Frost, ice, sunshine & 17 solo miles

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With the Race to the King double marathon in June the plan for today was 17 miles and 1,800 feet of elevation i.e. a third of what’s coming up in Summer. After only a mile I reached Fareham creek which looked just like a Christmas card with a liberal amount of frost and ice on the shoreline as well as the still water having a thin covering of ice too.

I’d loosely mapped out the route beforehand so that I could maximise Portsdown Hills trails as well as running it from different sides.

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Today would be the furthest and steepest I’ve run for a while but it would also be a good test of will power. Clearly it’s more fun to run with others but completing challenging runs on your own really adds “buckets” of self belief. I wasn’t worried about pace or even walking occasionally, today was all about getting the job done.

Once I’d left the wintery creek behind I joined Paradise Lane as it climbs out of Fareham. It’s funny how leaving the tarmac and houses behind immediately relaxes me. I find there’s no need to think about anything, just concentrate on the best line and avoid any pot holes. It’s a cliché but time almost stands still, all you can hear is your breathing and the birds.

dsc00081Once I’d reached Fort Nelson and the top of the hill I followed a narrow trail back down the hill, over the motorway towards Portchester. Naturally every downhill is followed by an up so I ran up Dore Avenue, followed by Hill Road and again found myself heading for the top of the hill. At this point I saw Brian from the club but with him wearing a beanie I mistook him for someone else !! Hello Chris was soon corrected to hello Brian once he’d said “hello Rog” and I realised who it was 🙂

I couldn’t resist the chance to run down the other side of Portsdown Hill so I threw in Portchester Lane which was quite slippy what with the sun not having risen high enough yet. The telegraph poles show the ascent !!

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Back on the trails I ran parallel with the main road and pondered to myself how long this track had been there, 10 years, 50, a few hundred, who knows !! Dropping down towards QE hospital I shouted encouragement to 3 cyclists and then this lead me to the steepest climb. Instead of following the road I ran on the grass almost vertically up towards Micks burger van. The killer section was a series of steps half way up the hill that had to be taken slowly. I was reminded of the cycling phrase “Legs shut up” at this point and had to walk for a short while.

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Once at the top I spotted a sign I’ve never noticed before in front of a thicket of trees. Stopping for a quick read as well as a couple of the fig rolls, which were part of my on going “try eating on runs”, I was impressed to see that the trees had been planted in commemoration of the Falkland War servicemen.

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As the 12 mile point approached I decided to leave a second Portchester Lane and settled for 1,600 feet elevation overall. As I retraced my steps I glanced at my watch for probably only the second time. Two hours had flown by !! Some days that sense of well being and contentment that you are coping with what you have set yourself really does make time fly. It hadn’t been at a great pace but that wasn’t the point, it had been manageable and enjoyable.

All that remained was the trail back up to Fort Nelson which was “steady” and a few comments with some ramblers as I dropped into Fareham.

It’s hard to explain how a testing run can still be relaxing and as I sat in the back garden once I’d finished there was a big smile on my face as I said out aloud “Good job Rog 17 hilly miles” , yes I have to confess to talking to myself !! Thanks for reading.

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