If there is one thing that running teaches you, it is perseverance. I thought this as I walked home on Friday night with three heavy bags of shopping, stopping only once to answer my mobile. And I thought it again this morning as I ran off down the road aiming for a slightly longer than normal run.
Which is why I started off at a sensible pace, one that neither Nick nor Cliff can run at: slow!
I headed out to Oldlands Mill, but then rather than take the Ditchling route I turned right and dropped down into Hassocks, running through the back-streets to the station. In an attempt to find some new paths I ended up running down more back-streets before emerging to the south of the village and running to Clayton at the base of the Downs.
Here the path takes the scarp slope head on and I engaged low gear and kept running as far as Jack & Jill. Recognising that I normally walk across the car-park before carrying on up the hill (effectively breaking the hill into two) I decided just to keep going for a change. I might not have stopped, but I have to confess to having had a little help… in the form of a couple of jelly babies. Well, two at the bottom of the hill and two more at the very top to be exact.
I then ran across to Ditchling Beacon and whilst I had loosely planning to continue running towards Lewes, something caught my eye. It was a group of three people contemplating a matched pair of barbed wire fences in the corner of a field. I stopped to offer assistance, although since two of them were in their elegant seventies, I guess that they weren’t about to take me up on my offer.
Agreeing that the best way for them to go was back the way they had come, I then took the path in front of me which lead all the way down to Westmeston. But on reaching Westmeston, a strange thought occurred to me, worthy of Cliff or Pete. Why not run back up the hill?
I was all out of reasons so I headed back aloft, taking the path goes pretty much directly from the bottom to the top. At the top I chatted briefly to the group who had also made it back to the safety of the stile, before I headed off back towards the Beacon. Nietzche would have been proud!
I took the path down before the road, but half way down my sense of curiosity took me off to the left from normal, across up-slope from a house with a tennis court to the beacon road and down to the car park at the bottom of the hill. Here I turned left along Underhill Lane and then right onto the path that leads to Ditchling. The village now boasts two tree-houses of which I am envious. One is clearly for children, bearing in mind the assault course that enables them to get down. The other, apparently, was designed with adults in mind… taking G&T’s on the deck looked like a very appealing prospect.
I ran up Lodge Hill and back via Oldlands Mill, feeling that I was finishing at pretty much the same pace that I started… still slow, but not quite fading, although that might have been something to do with another four or six jelly babies which I had callously chewed. Overall the time was two hours, 34 minutes for 14.7 miles… a mere 5.72 mph.
However m’lud, I would like to introduce some mitigating circumstances: the time as I left the Beacon was 1 hour 45 and the speed up to that point, including two scarp climbs, was 5.35mph. The 5.3 miles home from there was dispatched in 49 minutes… 6.5mph. Still slow by comparison to the boys, but not that slow!
And I did have some additional weight to carry.