All the recent rain has made a lot of the local trails quite treacherous, and the last thing I fancy these days is an awkward slip, or a nasty sprain. I also don't fancy plodding the streets if I can avoid it, I'm not completely familiar with the urban sprawl from here (I should get a paper-round), but I know there are some very dark roads, and a few immovable inclines to deal with.
|Smiley start - Brookwood Station|
Within a minute I was out of the orange streetlights, and illuminating the mud and mist of the Basingstoke Canal towpath for a dozen miles of unhindered squelching.
The air was mild, the ground was soft, and the deep puddles were completely hidden by thousands of fallen oakleaves. So much for safe passage, on more than one occasion I thought I was going for a swim.
On route I was thinking smugly that I'd remembered to take a picture of the start, and reminded myself to take a picture of the finish, when about five miles in passed beneath the largest bridge on this section, and saw the most amazing piece of art/vandalism (delete as you feel approriate). It's been a while since a woman made eyes at me in a tunnel, so I took a picture of that too.
|What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?|
It also gave me chance to show you why I use Ay-Up headtorches. They might be a bit on the premium side when compared to most simple LED lights, and they are only be available by mail order from Down Under, but they're totally bombproof, and lit this whole photo using only my headtorch. If there's one thing that makes you go faster at night over rough ground, it's being able to see where you're going.
Leaving the tunnel I realised that parts of the canal were still frozen, and inches deep in leaf litter from the rain of the last two days. I remembered a couple of years back, when James and I were training for the Devizes to Westminster kayak race, we paddled along here in the dark in our fast, and very unstable boats, and ran aground into ice. Kayakers tend to paddle by moonlight alone, as any kind of light on the boat sends crazy reflections and upsets your balance, and headtorches just light up your hands and shiny paddle. I have never wanted to stay dry so much in my life, slapping thin ice each side of the boat with the back of the paddle, and having to back out the way we came in before turning round. We must have been mental.
So the run continued, and I was feeling really strong. Happy with my pace, I started to think about my total, and first began to consider that instead of running twelve or thirteen miles (whatever it turned out to be), I'd be daft not to go for sixteen, and round up my week's total to a hundred miles.
|Sweaty finish - Fleet Station|
So I stayed on the towpath, passing my planned turning, and in the familiar vicinity of Fleet was doing my arithmetic to try and give me a clean sixteen back to my car by the station. I ran past my old house, and on to the next towpath exit, before turning onto tarmac, and risking life and limb through the town centre on a Friday night.
Escaping unscathed, I checked my watch, and realised I might only scrape my hundred, I added a couple of jinks just to be sure. No-one wants to run 99.8 miles in a week, even if the computer says 100.
A quick stop for a scary pizza on the way home, and I reckon I'm ready for the weekend!
Today: 16.7 miles, 2:10 hrs, 2354 cals
January: 100.7 miles, 14:09 hrs, 13840 cals