|Harry, myself, Andrew|
After my last attempt at running up Bison Hill, I couldn't resist another go as I was determined to improve my time. I could go on about increasing my lead on the Strava course record; that would be bragging as there's only a handful of runners that have done it and I know there's some faster ones around here.
I had talked to my good friends Harry and Andrew about escorting me up as a kind of pace setters as I knew this might make all the difference. Besides, it's fun. We had a vague arrangement for Wednesday last week which I then forgot about (on this occasion I will blame my day job and the demands of that). I got reminded via a text message while I was out having a post-work run somewhere else, also involving running up a steep hill. I drove as fast as I could, grabbing a sports drink on the way, and arrived at Whipsnade Zoo at about the right time. The arrangement was I'd leave my car there (at the segment finish) and run down the hill to meet Harry and Andrew. This all worked fine.
Tackling Bison Hill
I've mentioned before, this climb is on the road and 0.8 miles. Three sections: a) approach with a gentle slope b) main steep climb at 1:5 followed by c) final flat run to the finish.
We planned it so Andrew would lead the way just in front. Harry would ride alongside me giving me a running commentary about speed etc. On this occasion I gave him permission to yell at me using whatever language he thought was appropriate.
I can tell you, I really appreciated the running commentary with my speed - that was reassuring on the step bits and towards the end when "you're in double figures" as I ran as fast as I could towards the end. I hoped he was talking about my speed and not my time!
I found I could happily talk as I started on the approach slope and we chatted. As this was the first time we'd done this, Andrew and Harry were keen to make sure their pace was right and took care to avoid shooting ahead. Once I'd turned the first corner and the gradient increased my conversation dried up apart from the odd gasped word. Like before I found getting into a good rhythm of swaying my arms from side to side was helpful and I was almost on tip-toes as I ran the steep part. At this point I remember feeling really good and I had a pretty good idea my time would improve.
Once we passed the Bison Hill car park on the left the road levelled out ahead of a gentle turn to the left and then a final sprint to the end. Although it was on this final sprint I was over 10mph and at full speed, I knew I should be able to go faster.
My time was 7:02, some 13 seconds faster than before. Wow. We stopped, I took the above photo by the zoo entrance. We talked about bikes, running and bike rides. I was coughing quite a bit, not sure why and so without hesitation Andrew offered me his water bottle. Excellent, thank you. As a teenager Harry is so keen and increasing his strength and speed all the time and coming on nicely. Andrew is a quiet but highly disciplined cyclist with considerable endurance and speed; far more than myself. I couldn't wish to have a better pair of pace setters on that climb, so a big 'thank you' to both.
One of my all-time great runs
In my mind I have some specific runs filed away of all-time great runs. They tend to be long runs which are often early in the morning and always on my own. This run, which MUST be in those all-time great runs, was completely the opposite: short, fast, with others and in the evening.
Harry and Andrew cycled back home, while I felt a fraud by driving. I did comfort myself as I'd come straight from work and I had already had another run that evening (Charlton Hill Road, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire) which I will blog about another time.
I felt on top of the world, elated and thankful. My worries from the day in the office were blown away and once again I could feel my mind and body buzzing with the endorphins and that Runner's High feeling.
Definitely, without question, a great run. Trouble is, 7:02 simply begs to be beaten and complete the run in under 7:00 seems an obvious target for another time.....
Once again, thank you Harry and Andrew. I'm so thankful I have been blessed with a good pair of lungs and legs. Praise the Lord!
|Harry, Whipsnade Zoo entrance|