After my disappointing performance at the Great Scottish Run last weekend, I decided to concentrate on some long training runs over the coming weeks to try and get into shape for the Kielder Marathon in October. I set off this morning to run the 21 mile trail run that forms the basis of my London Marathon training during the winter months. This is significantly further than I have been running lately but I wanted to test myself out and see how my times compared with earlier in the year.
This is a testing course, around 90% off-road and with over 1500 feet of ascent. All was going well for the first hour but I had to take a slight detour by road to miss out a field that is currently home to a bull. It didn't add much distance on though and my next challenge faced me a little further down the road as I ran past Milndavie stables a pack of wild dogs began chasing me. I thought I could out run them and upped the pace slightly but their barking got louder and I realised they were catching me. My only choice was to turn and face the snarling brutes and as I eyeballed them they backed off and I could continue my run in peace. I glanced over my shoulder and the two Jack Russell's were heading back up the lane.
Two hours into the run I hit the hardest hill on the route so I had to dig in and once over the top, the rain started and it was a hard slog back home along the West Highland Way. Back home in 2.47, just 30 seconds slower than the fastest I ran this route during my London training. This morning's session has certainly given me some confidence but there is a bit more hard work to do yet before I decide whether to take on this challenging off-road marathon.