Waking early I hopped on the train from Hook to Brookwood to follow the Basingstoke Canal all the way home.
When I go for my half marathons I tend to run all the way to the Barley Mow pub in Winchfield before picking up the canal and heading homewards so the route is a familiar one with the psychological boost of knowing once I get to this point then I truly am approaching the end.
I have cycled the length of the canal a couple of times so I am familiar with the terrain and doing it in this direction I am well aware of what awaits me.
At 8am I emerged from the station and began my trot. Within a mile I had joined the tow-path and it was just me and it standing between me and home.
The weather was slightly overcast so perfect for running and with the date being the first of September the air temperature was still pleasantly warm.
The first thing that struck me on this first stage of the run, apart from how stagnant the water is around there with a thick scummy layer of duck-weed and algae giving off a mighty honk, was how the 2 cans of energy drink were going right through me. Every 10 minutes or so I was having to stop to drain the vein!
|Stagnant water covered in duck-weed = lovely aromas ;)|
As I approached Farnborough Airport, I was at the halfway mark and paused briefly for a short rest as I took this photo from the bottom of the runway. Munching on a cereal bar and slurping down a gel.
|The view along the runway @ Farnborough|
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I realise that this stopping was probably the worst thing to do as from this point it was incredibly hard to consistently get things going. From this halfway point my mile times fell off a cliff, rocketing from the 10 minutes to a mix of 13 to 16.
The stretch of the canal from Brookwood through to Fleet is extensively bordered by military land and as such was an area of national importance from the late 19th century to the end of the second world war as the hub of the British war machine. As such the canal was fortified to protect from invasion and some of these still remain:
|Tank-Trap, although why a tank would try driving down the canal is beyond me!|
The further in I got to the run then the more the cloud-cover began to lift and the temperature rose. By the time I reached the most exposed part of the route the sun was blazing down, with little shelter on offer for this Elephant Hawk moth caterpillar that was crawling across the tow-path.
|A tasty snack!|
Eventually I made it home with leaden legs, completely cream-crackered but able to at least lay claim to the boast that I have run a marathon, a huge psychological lift so that the first 'competitive' race I run will not be totally foreign to me as I will have the distance under my belt - or in this case 27 miles so a little bit longer.
As a recovery I made myself a bacon sandwich for a blast of proteins and staggered up the stairs in to the coldest bath I could run to ease my aching muscles, confessing to LSS what I had done, which she had kinda guessed by me saying I was off for a long run and had not returned within 2 hours.
What I have learned from this run is that the wall is hard on the body just to keep yourself running and stopping makes it so very difficult to restart. Also cans of energy drink before a run are not necessarily the best thing.