I made a wonderful discovery last week. Tucked away in fields surrounded by lush woodland is a riding circuit with nicely mown grass and logs placed across for horses to jump. Strategically placed notices warn 'Private, no public right of way' - 'Equestrian Ride for private use only' and 'Riders to have a valid number', but at 6 o'clock in the morning it's highly unlikely anyone will ever be there to police it.
|For me, that red arrow means 'This way please' (Click pictures to enlarge)|
I couldn't resist and set off running the grassy turf, avoiding the logs on my first visit, but jumping them all the following morning before climbing the steep hill towards Farnley Hey and up onto the Castle . After 5 miles and 582ft ascent I jogged home feeling somewhat knackered. But happy. In spite of all the notices, I've a sneaking suspicion I'll be there again.
|My new X-country route|
Something else quite out of the ordinary occurred last week. Maybe I was a bit non compos mentis at the time, or too much wine the night before, for on Saturday morning I allowed myself to be driven to Fountains Abbey to take part in their weekly Parkrun. We were greeted by an old running friend, Bill Wade of Holmfirth Harriers, who assured us we couldn't possibly finish last because being last was his job that day, acting as 'sheepdog' to make sure everyone got round safely.
|My wonderful partner with the 'sheepdog'|
I was determined to stay within my comfort zone, to run at my own pace whatever happened, and under no circumstances to get into racing mode. And that's exactly what I did. But in spite of running in a somewhat blinkered state it didn't stop me enjoying the truly magnificent water gardens and a beautiful reflection of the Abbey on the unruffled surface of Half Moon pond that almost stopped me in my tracks. All this under a cloudless blue sky.
I wanted to spend some time taking pictures after the race but the Parkrun takes place before the National Trust property officially opens its gates for the day and has to be vacated by 10am. Drat!
|....and yours truly getting ready for action|
|Gathering for the start at Porter's Lodge|
A sheltered valley with no wind was conducive to running reasonably good times, in spite of uphill sections at the start and finish of both laps. My mile splits were: 9.10, 9.31, 9,02 for a 28.57 finish which, oddly, is a two minute improvement on my last Parkrun back in 2013. Full results here:
|Fountains Abbey in the sunshine. We couldn't have chosen a better day.|
We were amazed how fast the morning's results and relevant statistics were all worked out for by mid afternoon we received emails confirming that my wonderful partner and I were both 1st in our age categories and yours truly had set an M80 course record. The Longwood Harriers raiding party had struck again!
|The track across the moor on Sunday's bumbly run|
By complete contrast we set off on Sunday for a quiet bumble around Grassington Moor and Blea Ghyll. Unlike the previous day we'd threatening skies and a sighing wind that blotted out any birdsong there might have been. But it was unusually dry underfoot which made for good running along scant sheep trods and over the mossy moor alongside Blea Beck.
|A bit puddly down Backstone Edge Lane.|
After the puddly bits down Backstone Edge Lane, where I did repetition runs in times past, it felt good to open up to sub 6 min/mile pace for a short distance before jogging home after 7.32 miles and 745ft ascent.
|Three of the moor's residents. I often wonder what they're thinking?|
25 miles with 2,537ft ascent was the sum total of last week's runs. Actually, it was a bit more than that for I never count the 'point somethings'. One of these days I may start doing when I'm trying to make low mileages look a bit more respectable in my dotage!
Happy running everyone.....