13 days to go…..

With less than 2 weeks to go until the North Downs Way 50 the nerves are building and the enormity of the task ahead is becoming more apparent.

It now comes to a point where I am asking myself have I done enough training, the reality is that I could have done more. I feel I have done as much as possible while still maintaining a reasonable life v training balance and not really sure where I could have squeezed in more, but that doesn’t stop the wondering.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, this week was a good one for mileage and the type of training. Monday I mentioned in my last post, a 13 miler which was to work off the excesses of the Stag do. Tuesday I ran a 4.85 mile run, taking Wednesday off and running 8.28 miles on the Thursday. Saturday was the last long run before the Ultra and I ran a section of the North Downs Way, before heading home, for a total of 20.06 miles.

The long run was a pretty sedate pace overall, coming in at 12:27/mi but this was down to A) Navigating the North Downs, B) focusing on managing my energy levels and C) Stopping to take photos here and there.

A shot of the trail heading towards Pilgrims Lane just outside of Merstham

The run started out from Merstham, I was running with Gareth but he was going to do run 6 miles out then another 6 back whereas my plan was to carry on along the North Downs Way to Titsey then follow the roads and trails back to Croydon, with a planned distance of 20 miles (although I hadn’t planned the route from Titsey to Croydon). Heading out from Merstham we started along the trail, the weather wasn’t great but it was a lot cooler so this made running so much easier.

There are some nice views, helps keep the mind occupied

Using the Harvey Map and the sign-posts, as well as the route details Gareth had printed out we plodded along. The ground has dried up significantly, but the mud has dried uneven and this means careful navigation at some points.

The scene from Caterham viewing point
Into the dark!

It was at Caterham that the first navigation error occurred, and looking back on the GPS recording vs the map I can see that we simply missed a road. Below is a screen capture of the recording and where we should have gone according to the map, simple really but we just missed the turning that we should have taken and carried along the road until we found a trail that we thought was the North Downs.

The red line was the route we took, the black the rout we should have taken. We just expected the turning to be further than it was, it didn’t cost us too much time as we found our way back.

This mistake highlighted how important keeping aware of my surroundings will be on the NDW50, as a mistake like that could be very costly.

A photo of the sign posts that keep you on the straight and narrow, and it was at this sign-post that I headed off on my own as Gareth turned back for his run to the car.

Now on my own I was reliant on the sign-posts and the map, so the already slowish pace slowed further as I was stopping every 5 minutes to check that I was taking the right turn and not heading onto some random trail.

A shot of the trail leading off, the ground drier and easier to run on
The fields of Oxted Downs
Nearing the quarry and Titsey plantation
Its not without dangers, luckliy he didn’t appear to be home
The map used, Harvey North Downs Way (West). Great map, all of the route in nice sections and waterproof.

Titsey foundation walk and part of the North Downs Way, this a longish uphill section

Coming out of Titsey I had finished the section of the North Downs Way that I was going to do for the day, I was tempted to carry on to Knockholt Pound as it is the finish of the NDW50 but having not planned my return journey (either running or public transport) from there I opted to head back home, aware that it should work out about 12 miles.

It was shortly into this route back that I got lost, a footpath sign that I was passing I ended up following to see where it ended up. Coming out into a field after about 2 miles I encounter a number of sheep and no real idea which turning to follow.

Lots of sheep but no idea where to go.
What did we do before Smartphones with GPS!! Using my phone and Google Maps I manage to find a direction to head in to get me back to a route I know

Once I had found my way back it was a simple case of following the routes I know home, bringing me in just over the 20 mile mark. After this run I don’t feel too bad, some slight aching but nothing major. The positives from this run is that despite the slow pace it is still quick enough to get me in under the 13:30 cut off of the NDW50, and that is all I am after.

Total Distance for the week: 46.25 miles, Total Time: 8:41:02, Total Calories: 5759

3 thoughts on “13 days to go…..”

  1. We should have turned where the sign said Public Footpath. Don’t know why it didn’t say NDW. Need to speak to you about that part of the route as there’s a couple of places you could go wrong

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