Once again Commando is pacing the Winchester Half Marathon. There have been lots of Sunday runs with the pacer team. Today though, they were doing a practice run on the course. Despite the early start I went along too. Any chance to wander around Winchester for a few hours is always welcome and this morning I had a plan.
Last summer Commando and a group of friends tried kayaking for the first time. They had a whale of a time and all agreed they should make kayaking trips a regular thing. Various pieces of equipment were purchased, including a wetsuit. There was even some talk about buying a kayak. Somehow though, getting everyone together at the same time when the weather and the tides were right proved impossible. Today Commando decided to grasp the last gasp of this summer and go alone.
On 27 August, the local paper published a fairly sensationalist report about a huge fire at Lakeside. It was titled “Grassland completely destroyed by wildfire.” CJ saw it and was quite upset, even when I told him Kim and I had walked across the country park after the supposed fire and seen nothing out of the ordinary.
As we went through the kissing gate onto the unknown trail I couldn’t help thinking about the rule of threes. So far today there had been two, luckily fairly minor, disasters. Theses things come in threes though, and I was breaking my own rule never to take an untried path in the middle of a long walk. It felt like a recipe for disaster but, as mother would have said, rules are like pie crusts, made to be broken.
This morning I set off bright and early to meet Kim. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the walk along the river to our meeting point at Woodmill was lovely. The morning air was cool and I was singing a little song in my head as I walked. Heat might become an issue later in the day but I was fairly confident this was going to be a beautiful, if rather long, walk.
Plotting routes for long training walks isn’t always easy, especially if you want to keep things interesting. An out and back route is the easiest but it means covering the same ground twice and I much prefer a circular walk. After a lot of messing about with maps I thought I had a fairly interesting eighteen mile route planned but there was one fly in the ointment. Avoiding walking along Wide Lane twice meant taking the trail across Monks Brook Meadows and, with all the building work going on there, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get through. Luckily, Commando had a session at the Running School this afternoon so I thought I’d check out the footpath while he was being tortured.
After our sodden sixteenish miles last week and our equally wet weekend hill adventure, this week was all about shorter walks and hills. On Monday morning it was nice to see clear blue skies when I set out to meet Kim at Woodmill. The downside to the blue sky was the heat, even before eight in the morning, but I guess you can’t have everything and we were only planning to walk eight miles anyway.
This morning began with an early drive to the airport to drop Commando and Rob off. They were catching a train, not a plane, heading for Winchester and a summer social run with a small group of Hamwic Harriers. Kim and I would be conquering a few hills around Mansbridge while we waited for them to come back. It all sounded great, apart from the fact it was raining again.
Romsey is the newest parkrun in Hampshire and, since the first event back in March, we’ve been meaning to check it out. This parkrun is held on the playing fields of Mountbatten School, near the Broadlands Estate in Romsey, home of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. The course is more or less flat and mostly on grass, which was good news for Rob who has been suffering with a heel problem since Thunder Run.
Sixteen miles isn’t an easy distance to walk, at least not for most normal mortals. It’s the point when everything starts to feel tough and muscles start to protest. Knowing this, I’d spent some time planning an interesting route with some really pretty bits in the second half to take Kim’s mind off her aching legs and feet. In fact I was looking forward to it because I’d found an unexplored footpath that I was fairly sure would take us onto the Itchen Navigation at Kiln Lane. It was one I’d passed many times but had never actually walked.