I've said it before, I never, ever looked at my watch during a race, preferring instead to run entirely by 'feel', always believing my body could judge optimum pace far better than any watch. It amused me to see runners checking their watches at every mile marker, presumably to assess whether ahead or behind schedule.
|One of those enjoyable dawn runs (Click to enlarge)|
My body set my pace according to fitness level and acquired training effect so there was never any computing to do on my part. Time rarely crossed my mind. I just ran the best my body would allow me to run on the day. The inquest and analysing began only when I got home when occasionally I'd get a wonderful surprise - a nice PB, an age related course record or occasionally a British Championship.
|Tuesday's 5 mile route|
Old habits die hard. Even though I haven't raced for years I never peer at my TomTom watch while actually running. I merely click it at the start and finish of a run then plug it into the computer to download and charge while I have my shower. Which is what I did last Tuesday after an enjoyable 5 mile run round local fields, woods and hills.
|Love those sort of surprises|
Still sweating I sat, draped in a bath towel, in front of my computer to learn the worst! But I couldn't believe my eyes when TomTom said I'd just run my fastest 5 miles (with 597 ft of ascent) and improved my Fitness Age to 66. So there you go, running does actually make people younger - by a whacking 20 years in my case!
|Stepping stones and Suspension Bridge at Hebden|
Things didn't go quite so flowingly at the weekend. On Saturday we visited a 93 year old friend who's recently been transferred from hospital to a rather opulent, up market Nursing Home. "Gosh" I said to the receptionist, "have you got room for me in here?" I quickly changed my mind on learning that weekly
rates amount to a staggering £831
|Paddlers in the river at Loup Scar|
By the time we'd driven to Hebden the sun had reached its zenith which meant we were in for a sweaty, uncomfortable run. I envied people splashing around in the river at Loup Scar as I ran past. I say 'I' because we ran separately, me having trouble with my nether regions again - don't ask - which somewhat delayed my start.
|A flotilla of goosanders |
There were crowds of weekend walkers to dodge around, and their dogs, but all were polite and chatty, giving words of encouragement and shutting gates behind me. In the intense heat they gave me little chance for rest.
|Burnsall beach and corner of Daggett's field|
Jeremy Daggett's field in Burnsall was brimming with picnickers, sunbathers and folk paddling in the river. A pungent smell of barbecue smoke and charred meat stung my nostrils as I ran through. I wasn't tempted!
|Early purple orchids - I think!|
I'd never before noticed the delightful little patch of wild flowers near the bottom of Postman's Steps. Maybe it's only appeared this year. And nestling among the carpet of blue were some beautiful early purple orchids that, of course, provided another excuse for a few moments rest.
Running back over the Suspension Bridge I noticed algae is already forming on the river, as it does when water gets low in hot weather.
|Algae forming a scum on the River Wharfe|
"Remind me never to run in this sort of heat again" I said to a non- running neighbour as I turned in home lathered with sweat. It was ages after my shower that I cooled down sufficiently to fancy any lunch. It was fluid I needed most. A bucket full of it.
|Setting off into the boundless blue on Sunday's run|
More sensibly, Sunday's run was a bit earlier in the day but nevertheless the sun was rising into a cloudless sky as we set off up the ghyll trailing our black shadows. A grey wagtail in the beck gave us our first excuse for a rest as it flitted from stone to stone in search of food for its fledglings.
Sheep had already sensed the increasing heat and were seeking shade in the lee of a dry stone wall. What they didn't know was that the sun would soon be directly overhead and their cool shade would be gone.
|Sheep in disappearing shade -|
or have they picked the wrong side of the wall?
We'd set off to do a seven mile route but were already feeling a little uncomfortable in the rising temperature. "Maybe we'll just go round Yarnbury and make it a mile shorter" I suggested. My wonderful partner quickly agreed. "The mountain pansies should be flowering on the Yarnbury track" she said.
|No mountain pansies but a few splashes of thyme|
"Oh, I wasn't meaning that particular track, that way will cut it down to only five miles" I said. Subconsciously I believe we both thought that would be far enough! So that was the way we went.
|At a stile approaching the tiny hamlet of Yarnbury....|
Unusually, we hadn't seen a solitary soul. There are usually cars parked around Yarnbury and walkers wandering along the tracks, but there was no-one.
|....and standing on the slightly raised curve of the overgrown henge|
We crossed a field containing a henge that dates back to the Neolithic/Bronze age. Sadly over the years its 22 metre circumference has become so overgrown as to become barely recognizable among the thistles and tussocks in which it lies. But we found it.
|Legging it down Moor Lane|
We climbed over another stile to run down Moor Lane where a lone lapwing was flying around. We surmised the majority of them had already returned to the coast where feeding will be much easier on the wet seashore than the baked ground of the Yorkshire Dales.
|Keeping going up Edge Lane|
Turning onto Edge Lane we encountered our first, and only, hikers of the morning who gave us a cheery "Well done" as we shuffled by, determined to keep going up the steepish hill ahead of them.
I'm afraid to say we succumbed to yet another tempting short cut at the end of Edge Lane, down a narrow path leading steeply downhill to the welcome shade of a wooded area where knapweed was growing in profusion.
|Almost home and still the sky is blue|
From thereon it was a gentle run past Garnshaw House, through a couple of fields and down a stony lane back into the village of Hebden - to a cooling shower, drinks, lunch, then if I dare say it, a short siesta out of the sun. I sometimes wonder if I'm getting old?
|Sunset - and time for bed|
Not according to TomTom. At my present rate of progress I could soon become a teenager again.
In my dreams....