Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Health Warning: Reading Books can be Dangerous

A blog from Russell, deep in Wales on a Forestry assignment...

I can’t walk, only hobble and my legs and shoulders are racked with pain as I write this. Not surprising to me, though, I did one of those things you know is stupid but you still have to do.

You see I’m staying in Wales in the village of (intake of breath) Pontrhydfendigaid, at the foot of the Cambrian Mountains. No time to run since Monday so come Saturday and a fair forecast, I’m going to run. There are some great hills and mountains round here so plenty of scope. But in spare moments I’ve been reading a book Julie gave me for my birthday: ‘Wild trails to far horizons’ by ultra-long-distance trail runner Mike Cudahy. He’s an obsessive extremist who has done amazing things and I’ve found the book quite inspiring. Now I’ll never be an ultra-runner of any sort, my favourite race is the short but steep Ben Sheann hill race. And I don’t run much on roads or even hard surfaced tracks. But today I shunned the chance of some fine hill running to attempt the Ystwyth Trail Cycle Route.

I joined the trail on the disused railway line across the massive peat bog of Cors Caron and a ittle under 3 hours and 17 miles later trotted up to the finish beside Aberystwyth Town Football Club. I managed to run the whole way apart from stopping for water and a marathon (reverted to the old name in sympathy with the Greek people) at two-thirds distance. It’s a nice route, mostly on disused railway but with one annoying section on a busy road. At times the railway, though fine for cycling, is a bit too straight for running. The four mile straight alongside the Ystwyth River seemed unending but the river helps by reminding you it’s downhill all the way. By the end, my calves felt quite stiff and sore due to a lot of running on tarmac and even more on the hard railway path.

Aberystwyth being a traditional seaside resort, I headed straight to the eat-in fish and chip shop to enjoy their wares then to the beachside café on the prom for ice cream and tea – lovely – with another marathon to finish. Each time I stood up after sitting my legs were alarmingly stiff but eased off after a few minutes walking. Daft I know, for one so unused to long runs and already suffering from ‘tarmac calves’ but I had decided to run back too, so off I set. The stiffness eased off a bit as I got into a rhythm and I was surprised how quickly the first few miles passed. By half way I was walking up the hills and my running pace was slow but steady. Towards the end, any wee excuse and I was walking but always managed to get back to running again - a kind of scout’s pace. With the end in site I managed to keep running for the last 3 miles and even upped the pace to a respectable hobbly-trot as I made my triumphant way up the main street to my digs.

After cups of tea and a snooze I could hardly get down the stairs. Oh well, serves me right and what did I expect. See what I mean about books!


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