Monday, 11 April 2011

(Almost a) Stretton Skyline - 10/04/2011

Today was the final stage in checking out progress with my calf injury. I'd done 8 miles on Tuesday and 11 on Friday with no real adverse reaction, so I wanted to get a proper long run in and do most of the Skyline route. I intended to cut the last re-ascent onto the long Mynd because that would have probably been a bit too much of a distance progression.

I parked up on Watling Street again, at the foot of the descent from Ragleth Hill so I could refuel, top up my drink and change shoes or clothes if necessary, then jogged up through the town.

I started my watch at the startline for the race near the cattle grid in CMV and jogged up the road. I was soon stopped as I bumped into othe Mercia Fell Runners, chatting first to Rob Court who was out with his family, and then Mel and Helen, who'd been out in the cooler early morning (how sensible) and done chuncks of the Valleys route. I staretd the watch again after a loo stop at the NT's toilets and ran up Lightspout past a lot of ramblers, and on to the top of Pole Bank (reached comfortably in 33 minutes).

I had a good easy descent down into Little Stretton, stopping a couple of times to take photos, and then filled my water bottle at the campsite, having got through half a litre of liquid already. On through the village and strongly up towards the top of Ragleth Hill, running rather more of the generally steep ascent than I often do, I reached the checkpoint at the south top in 1:13 (about eight minutes faster than in the race last year).

I tried the Newport patent descent route, but went a little too far right on the way down. I need to remember to go straight down from the obvious rock! Anyway I picked it up and the road section is gentler and quicker than coming off the end of the ridge. I'm inclined to agree this is the faster way.

I paused the watch and stopped at the car for a few minutes, removing the t-shirt and putting on my vest and lots of sunscreen. I had a Twix and drunk some water, refilled the bottle again (High5 energy drink this time), and set off towards Caer Caradoc.

I was feeling good at this stage and ran all the way to the kissing gate, then hiked quickly up the steep ascent to the summit, reaching this point in 1:53 running time.

I descended well too, but felt the effects on the road to Comley Farm and on the ascent of the Lawley, where I took it fairly easy, reaching the top in 2:18. Coming back down I realised my legs were quite tired and I'd probably also gone a bit too fast as I was struggling to recover. Two weeks of lost fitness to get back there, I think...

I headed across the fields to the A49, and then decided in view of my condition (very little fluid left, and a bit tight in my hamstrings) to head along the road to All Stretton.

I had a very welcome short break in the pub where the young barman filled my bottle with nice cold water as well as selling me a pint of squash, then returned to Church Stretton by the fields and Madeira Walk.

Stats for today were around 16.5 miles (including the jog up to CMV from the car), and about 3,350' of ascent in a total of about 3 hours 20 minutes (about 12:10 pace). I reckon if I could sustain my pace to the Lawley through the rest of the Skyline route I'd be at around the 3 hours 40 mark for the Skyline now, a considerable improvement on my 4 hours 16 from the race last September.

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