After a relaxing time in London, Jamie and I are bidding farewell to the UK this morning and boarding the Eurostar at lunch to return to France, to Lyon, and to home. It’s been nice to take a break with him and see a little of the city that I hadn’t seen before – Greenwich, Kensington, and a couple of the boroughs out around where my parents live – and also to enjoy this recovery week of running in the small hills around Northwood.
I haven’t been pushing the distance at all this week and instead I’ve preferred to get in reasonable recovery efforts. I know that, with the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra coming up in less than a month now, any time I can spend working on hills is going to be valuable so I have made sure not to avoid the rollers around Northwood even though they are probably not the best thing for tired legs. Surprisingly, these small rises add up fast and I’ve managed to hit more than a hundred meters of elevation without really trying during the runs on Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll have to keep this up if I am going to have any chance of feeling good during the Ultra Boucle…though perhaps ‘feeling good’ is a little too ambitious for a race that hurt over six hours last year and will hurt a lot more over twenty-four this time around.
For the last run I decided to try out a Strava segment I had noticed on a nice loop near the golf course near to Mum and Dad’s. It’s a simple two kilometer loop on quiet, residential roads that I have walked on previously while being amazed by the mansions that line the streets. Indeed, the name of the segment is Miles of Massive Mansions and I think it’s reather apt; Dad explained the other night that there wouldn’t be much on that loop you could buy for less than a million pounds – and converting that to euros suggests that is real money, Brexit or not. After running the loop, I planned to pull out onto the main road once again, run a modified loop as I had the last couple of days, and finish off not at the coffee shop but at home because sometimes getting to the international train terminal on time is more important than that cup of Joe.
I started my run on the other side of the road to avoid having to cross over traffic while stressing about kilometer splits and then made the turn onto Copse Wood Way for a minute before starting the loop on Links Way. I looped around in the early morning cool and a few of the locals were, even this early, getting set to head into their offices wherever they might be. Eventually Links Way turned into Copse Wood Way again and I headed out to the Rickmansworth Road and the start of the longer loop. On this first section I managed to break into the top ten for the Strava segment which, considering how the hill popped up with about 500 meters to go on the loop, I was happy with.
I followed the same route as the day before, heading down to the end of the road and then taking the double-left turn to head back towards Northwood Hills and Northwood proper via the Pinner Hill Road. However, instead of pulling to the left as the Pinner Hill Road turned into Hillside Road at the mid-point of the climb, I instead pushed on up Pinner Hill to give myself a little test on a hill. It’s been nearly a week since the Saint Fons 12 Hour race so time to push the legs a little, right?
The climb itself is about half a kilometer long and pitches up pretty consistently at a 6% grade. The top is a harder push than the bottom, a little steeper it seems even if the profile doesn’t tell that story. After clearing the barrier to traffic that divides the hill into two parts, I pushed on as best as I could and then, reaching the top, turned to the left onto Hillside Road to follow it back into town. I wouldn’t know until afterwards how I had done but I did let my heart rate climb a little and I pushed at a nice 75% of maximum effort or so, enough to feel like I was doing something. I managed to complete the Strava segment well outside of course record pace but only just outside the top ten who have run it, and strongly enough to know I haven’t lost all my form from the Saint Fons 12 Hour just yet.
The final run back home was simple enough and a nice chance to say good bye to London, or at least Northwood. After a couple of small rollers on Hillside Road, I dropped through Northwood’s high street, passed the London School of Theology, took the left hand turn back onto Rickmansworth Road, and closed out the run just as the 10K mark rolled around on the Garmin.
Thanks for a wonderful recovery week, London (and for the hospitality, Mum and Dad!), and I hope I’ll be back to run longer again soon.