Seven Mile Madness

Posted: 17/03/2012 in Uncategorized

In my seven-league boots…

Two things drove me out of the house this moring, one was the lovely (dare I say Spring-like) weather, and the other was the obsessive-gear-geek desire to try out my my new Soleus 2.0 GPS running watch. More on that later, and I’ll post a review of how the watch performed, and my views on how well it is going to fit into my running obsession, but for now back to the run.

After Thursday night’s fairly short night run, I figured I should be pretty well rested, so what to aim for? A bit of distance, I thought, as I am now officially in training for the Kielder Marathon in October. I’ve done six miles a few times, so it had to be longer than that – I’d had a quick look at eight miles and thought I might die, so seven seemed about reasonable. I could also do it without headphones to tell me when I’d covered 3.5 miles thanks to the watchy on my wristy, rather than the ol’ iPhone-in-my-pocket. Result, and if I took the iPhone along for the ride, I could compare the results of the two GPS units and see how close (or otherwise) they were.

Right, out of the house, down to the sea front and ready to go. Or not, the watch took a couple of minutes to lock onto the satellites, so I got to have a look at the sea and the marauding seagulls getting ready for a day of ice-cream nabbing. #beep# Signal acquired, so off we go. From a standing start I clicked both the phone and the watch on, and started.

In the great book of starting-your-run technique, I don’t think I’ll make it near the front, unless it’s as part of a cautionary tale of eating out at Wagamama the night before, or maybe drinking too much beer. Unsteady is frankly charitable as description. Rubbish is nearer the mark. Still, I’ve learned that if I can put up with looking like a hippo with shin splits for five minutes then all will come right.

The sun was out, the clouds were 89% fluffly and the breeze was like a zephy from the gods to cool my fevered brow. Shorts and vest are now the order of the day, though I need a better vest, the Karrimor one I’ve got has peculiar holes for the arms – maybe it’s my burgeoning musclature, or maybe it’s just odd holes, but they feel like they’re not quite big enough.

I tanked past the Dome, along to Panama Dip and noticed that I was apparently running a 9:40 mile. That’s pretty bloomin’ good for me, but I wasn’t going to let on in case it faded away. Up to the turn for the lighthouse and around the caravan park – bit of an incline here, and my calves were feeling the burn – a number of notes were passed up to my brain asking for the rest of the day off. Needless to say, they were dispensed straight to the waste-paper-basket of faint memory, and on I plodded.

Up to the roundabout at the entrance to Seaton Sluice, and I’d fooled myself (and my calves) by telling them I could cut down my usual route back along the headland and all would be Easy Street. Not so, and with a maniacal cackle that frightened a dog walker, I headed into Seaton Sluice. I’d never noticed that the entrance to Seaton Sluice is a high point, and that (no pun intended) it’s all downhill from there. I noted it now, in the manner of someone currently running down the hill, in a casual, almost airy fashion.

Turn off the main drag and along the top of the cliffs – noticed a pillar just off the coast – must come back with camera at some point, then on along the road. Got to the end, and realised I was at 3.4 miles, not time to turn back yet, or I’d miss my 7 mile goal, so I headed off on the headland towards the pub and then off onto the trail. At this point, I was rapidly running out of land, and just made 3.5 miles before I would have plunged into the sea to my actual death. Result there, then.

Turn around.

The sad truth of downhill on circuits hit me at this point – I was going to have to run the 3/4 mile uphill incline to get back to the roundabout – hadn’t really thought about it before, but I did now. Well, there’s nothing for it, as the only option would be to get the bus, but I had no money, and with the Kielder Marathon beckoning I thought it would be best to avoid that kind of controversy from the start.

Phew, back out of Seaton Sluice (no offence Seaton Sluice, you’re alright in the sun) and down to the headland by the Lighthouse. A little bit of a trail, lord know I love a bit of a trail, and then back onto the cliffs above the beach at Whitley Bay. This is my proper home turf (literally), and I carved along there like a majestic but chronically scuppered galleon. Down onto the promenade and past Panama Dip and the skate park, along to the end and up to the Dome from the cafe at the beach. I’m essentially done here, 6.4 miles in the bag, and just a gentle jog along the path to get back to where I started.

Just for a bit of a distraction, I started worrying about running into the sun for the last half hour – was I burning? My face felt quite hot, but that’s as likely just the running. Post-run investigations show that I’m not red like a tomato, but I’m also not bone-white like an Englishman either. Another result.

Right, seven miles down, and I stop (which is weird, I usually stumble about, I’m not used to actually stopping) to finish the run on both the phone and the watch to avoid messing up the distance comparison.

Now for the stumbling, back home, drinking chia like it’s god’s own pint and smiling like a buffoon.

The watch? I’ll talk more about it when I review, but it worked really well – very happy with my purchase… even sorted out my one gripe with it, but I’ll save that for the review.

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