This week has been a week of 'firsts' which have resulted in two interesting runs and a brief cycle across London.
Thursday night saw the first time I've gone running on the trails at night with a head torch. As it was an experiment and I was unsure if my pretty basic head torch would be up to the job I decided that I would first do a lap of the woods around Oaks Park where I would be not too far from a road at all points should I need to make a tactical retreat from the proceedings. My head torch turned out to be just about up to the job, although only just and there were a few trips along the way and I nearly ran into a recently felled tree. The whole thing was quite exhilarating in some ways but there's definitely an overall feeling of being very alone when running in the dark with only the sound of your foot steps for company. I think I'll definitely head out again, maybe with a new torch, before the nights start to get lighter again. There's a few races run at night, most notably the Kent Moonlight Challenge which was halted mid way though this weekend due to the snow, so I may have to keep my eye out for one to enter this year.
The second first involved the much hyped Boris bikes (I realise I am very behind the times on this as they have been around for ages). I needed to get from London Bridge to Paddington and had some time to spare so thought I'd ride. Whilst not being the most efficient bikes in the world it was a nice cruise from East to West across along the Thames and through Hyde Park.
The final first was on Sunday. I hadn't intended it to be an introduction to trail running in the snow as from the window of our friends house in Cheltenham all the snow from the night before had melted. The aim was to head up the paths to the top of Cleeve Hill as I had done in August when I was there last. The roads to the base of the hill will clear of snow however as soon as I hit the steep path up to the ridge the snow increased with treacherous ice covered mud in the woodland sections. The going on the way up was interesting and at times I was reduced to walking to stay upright through the iced paths and frozen mud. Upon reaching the top of the hill I turned to make my descent through a mix of skating, running and walking. Last August the descent was a fast, amazing and out of control experience. This time this was not to be the case! Whilst in the sections in the fields where the snow was deeper there was an opportunity to let loose, through the woods my approach involved hanging on to trees and sliding down the ice! Once back down on the roads I took an opportunity to run the final mile back as fast as I could but this couldn't make up much time for what ended up being over 50 minutes for only just over 5 slow but enjoyable miles.
Finally its worth reporting on some Beer of the week. Whilst in Cheltenham our guests took us to the fantastic local beer shop, favourite beers. Special mention must be made to both O6 from the Otley brewery, a strong porter with an almost liquorice taste and Exhibition beer from the Bristol Beer Factory- an excellent strong dark ale.