I needed a long run this weekend, something to confirm that I could complete the Great North Run without crumpling. We were away at the in-laws so I opted for the canal run. A remote out and back trail with no opportunities for rescue or abandonment. Perfect.
Out and back runs offer up an interesting dilemma – when to turn back. I set off with a ten-miler on my mind but I was feeling good after the first 5k and it was a fairly easy decision to commit myself to an extra kilometre before turning round. At that rate I would finish the run at 18km knowing that I’d only have to pull another 3 out of the bag come the big GNR day.
I was comfortable, smug almost for the first 6km. I was actually worried that my route might be too easy. A canalside swathe cut through the lowlands of Grantham isn’t a great imitation of the undulating route along the dual carriageway between Newcastle and South Shields.
I needn’t have worried. The towpath disappeared at 7k and I had to navigate bumpy grassland and then the fishers appeared.
I had to disturb at least 30 anglers who had set up along my route, their huge rods laid out across my path. Mostly I had to hurdle them but some fishermen took time to lift them out of my way. They’d allow them to hover around 4ft off the ground and I had little option but to limbo under the obstructions.
I didn’t feel like turning round too soon and making them repeat the exercise in reverse but I was getting fed up and wanted to be home already.
The return journey was not as enjoyable, the moment I turned round a pair of psychological bands clamped tight around my thighs. At every kilometre beep from my Garmin I would quickly calculate where I would have been if I’d turned around at the planned 8k point. I was punishing my earlier rash self.
I’d deposited a spare water bottle at the 5k point and now threatened to collapse with dehydration before I arrived back. When I did retrieve the bottle I was so paranoid that a passing dog had pee’d on it that I couldn’t enjoy it.
I was staggering by the end, hobble walking for the last kilometre but it was done and now I know I can do it next weekend.
Now all I need to do is raise some money. Donations for the Samaritans greatly received.