The Marathon Diaries: Twenty-one up

Sometimes one just gets the bit between the teeth. Yesterday was just such a day. The day was not a particularly auspicious one as I toiled with the psychology report I am taxed to do. Administrative problems with the report were driving my blood pressure skyward and I really needed a complete change of pace and activity for the day. I had promised myself a longer run, all being well, for the day as it had been a few short months since I’d ran more than 11-12 miles in one session. This had nagged at me mentally and in truth was carving chasms in my confidence regarding running a marathon. At one time of day I was mentally strong and assured enough to contemplate any distance placed in front of me – not so these days. For the day I desired 13 miles as a maximum and would have been comparatively happy with that achievement.

12052009059The beginning

So, head in something of a whirl with the frustrations of the day, I set off for my regular starting spot in nearby Woodborough and headed off down the lane pictured above at just after quarter past four. A pleasant afternoon was an encouragement as I hit the River, Trent side, at just after five miles and having passed through the pleasant villages of Lowdham and Caythorpe. Skipping through the cherry tree-lined path on the way to Gunthorpe I realised that I was doing pretty well today – feeling comfortable and about to settle into a long run. After six or seven miles I became fixated with the outlandish idea of running…yes, twenty miles.

Gunthorpe Lock, Notts

Gunthorpe: running by the river

My footsteps were light and economical – always a good portent, and I flicked on through the unkempt riverside pastures of Hoveringham village, sunshine fortifying my way on to the powerful Hazelford Weir along the Trent. There was no going back from here.

16072009565 Hazelford

16072009562Hazelford Weir

The secluded, attractive and sleepy route of Gypsy Lane took me to my third water stop of the day at Bleasby village’s Wagon and Horses. Wandering in through through the pleasingly refurbished old county pub’s rear entrance I drank thankfully, thirstily and lengthily from the bathroom’s cold water tap. Now some twelve miles in to the run, Thurgarton village loomed as the next target, but yet some way off. Still a long way from home and a more familiar route. Mentally and physically I still felt strong for the challenge that I knew from experience was up ahead.

16072009556The Wagon and Horses, Bleasby

Tip-toeing over the quiet level crossings of the Nottingham to Newark-on-Trent railway line, Hoveringham and more water lay ahead. A peer at the GPS on my wrist confirmed the unfeasible length of time this run was beginning to take away from the ‘normal’. Hoveringham careered into my tired view and more welcome and highly necessary water in the shape of the beautiful Reindeer Inn within the village. Sated, I curiously paused a moment to look at the pictures on the quiet pub’s corridor walls of previous party times. So incongruous with the reason for my brief presence there today.

Re-emerging into now-greyed skies, I was now back on a more regular route and heartened and fortified by this. The country lane wound and wound as I kept a strict control on my head – rejecting any negative thoughts of tiring. The hamlet of Gonalston heralded a ‘final lap’ of around four or five miles. Passing the old blacksmith’s shop, past the diminutive cottages, even a mild incline registered on my legs and general posture. Straighten up. Straighten up. Gonalston has a long lane of the same name that leads to the next village of Epperstone. The historic rural area ahead often feels like a long drudge towards the end of a lengthy run but today – perspective of distances altered by a very long run – it felt good to be so near home.

Evening drinkers outside the Cross Keys eying the runner curiously I passed on, ever nearer my destination which I knew held two challenging hills at the end of the run. Why twenty-one miles? Well I arrived, bloody but unbowed, on Woodborough Main Street having registered 20.25 miles – to doodle around the village for a further .75 of a mile seemed to be the best, most perverse thing to do right now. I was extremely weary and slowing accordingly but I wanted to show that, yes, I can go that ‘extra mile’ – quite literally. Twenty-one miles. I was pleased to stop. I really was. Water, back at the car and an attempt to straighten my head.

Messages to my friends and a phone call home in which I realised that my voice had all but disappeared. A pint of water and a celebratory pint of beer in The Nag’s Head garden followed before a worsening chill saw me head back to the car and the short drive home. Sated, accomplished and triumphant. I had proved once again that I can do this thing. I will be taking part in The Nottingham Marathon in September.

2 thoughts on “The Marathon Diaries: Twenty-one up”

  1. hi just reading part of your diary where you run 21 miles along the trent, i am training for the nottingham full marathon 2010 and i run from Gedling up lambley lane down in to burton joyce along to colwick back home which is 13 miles. I really enjoy running along the trent and was hoping you could forward your 21 mile route which you spoke about taking in hazelford and the wair. Are you still running? many thanks Andrew

  2. No problem Andrew. The route was as follows:

    Start at Woodborough, Nags Head pub

    Down Lowdham Lane and along the bypass through Lowdham Main Street.

    Over the Lowdham Railway Station and turn left down the road to Caythorpe.

    Opposite The Black Horse pub in Caythorpe, there is a public footpath alongside the old mill house, pass through this and on for for a couple of fields. The path leads through to Gunthorpe Main Street (you may need a map to trace this path).

    Turn left onto Main Street and pass The Unicorn Pub and down the river towpath for 5,5 miles. You will come to Hazelford Weir.

    Turn away from the river at the weir where there is an old, largely unused lane which leads out to the road between Bleasby and Fiskerton.

    Turn right at this road for a couple of hundred yard and turn left into Gypsy Lane.

    At the end of Gypsy Lane and after the Wagon and Horses turn right up through Bleasby and keep on the road to Thurgarton.

    At the main Lowdham – Southwell road turn left then sharp left again and into Hoveringham.

    Through Hoveringham and take a left turn at the far end of the village back towards Gonalston.

    Pass over the main road and into Gonalston, following the little main road through the village and on up Gonalston Lane to Epperstone.

    Through Epperstone and at the end cross the main road at the mini roundabout and up Shelt Hill into Woodborough, returning to the Nags Head.

    This is around 20 miles, I added a bit on at the end. There are drinks stops to be had at the pubs in Lowdham, Unicorn, Gunthorpe, and the pubs in Bleasby, Thurgarton, Hoveringham and Epperstone (if you time them right).

    Good luck with your training and let me know if you need any further explanation. I’m still running yes but not training for a marathon at the moment!

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