Having missed two weeks of hill repeats (a late late finish pre-handover of some plots folowed by a week of holiday), today was a Thursday and as such I had little excuse not to do some sprinting up a steep slope.
Only problem was lack of motivational idiot – I didn’t fancy it after all and everyone else at work had an excuse not to. But I like the result of the effort, so hatched an alternative plan which seemed a touch less daunting but promised a lung bursting hilly sprint somewhere I’ve promised I’ll visit since finding it about a year ago.
The road from Rye to Cock Marling (through the parish of Udimore. Superb names; well done East Sussex!) has a short-cut to Winchelsea via a torturously tight, steep, narrow road which has the best name ever…Dumb Womans Lane. This was last year’s diversion/shortcut/only reasonable way to get to site without a 16 mile diversion. In a car it’s a horrible prospect – one of those blind lanes that has no passing places on any of the steep bit (it’s so cut into the hill, there is at one point a 3 metre high retaining wall at the road edge holding the bank up), meaning up to quarter of a mile of reversing if a complete numpty is encountered around 3 blind, steep corners.
On legs, the pleasantness doesn’t improve much, to be fair!
The jog towards the hill was three quarters of a mile of in to wind slog. I’d refer to it as a warm up, but it was an ordeal in itself, such was the breeze on the top of the escarpment that, despite providing great views of the levels around Winchelsea, also allows winds t be fully experienced. The jog down the hill was lovely. Out of the wind, easy, very attractive. Then it all went blurry.
I chose a spot 0.4 miles from the top, turned around and ran. Hard as I dare, to be fair, rather than outright sprint. I hate not giving my all, but first outings always intimidate me a touch. The pitch is very hard – much steeper than the site road which is 1:11 at its steepest. And, instead of building up to a 250m sprint via 50m increments, the full 0.4 miles was to be tackled in one go and just over halfway up the steepest bit is encountered. Just about here, my lungs were burning harder than any 250m hill repeat, so something was going well.
The last part had a longer than anticipated slope to my turnaround and, as I reached it, I even allowed myself 5 seconds of hands on knees gasping to allow a little air back in. Then I kept my promise and returned to the bottom, recovering well as I did so, before launching back up.
Just after the steepest bit this time I even had stars in my eyes. Lungs bursting for 0.8 miles total seems a nice way to run on a Thursday and as I finished the hill, I felt happier than on an equivalent set of pyramid repeats, as I had hoped. The hiccup with not being sure whether I’d repeat the set was not having a pair of laps to compare times and thus effort; next time I will. The odd thing with having a hell of a hill followed by a jog to site with a following wind and a slight down-slope is that, despite being in full recovery jog style, my pace was well under the 7.30 per mile that needed mental effort on Tuesday. Odd how runs work out. On return to site, clearly a good workout had been done – I was pouring with perspiration, despite a relatively low temperature and good breeze.
So the result is that I like the longer distance hill but wonder if it is in fact better or worse for me. Not having a laboratory to test the relative merits, all I can use to decide is my reckoning. And I reckon that since I promised to enjoy my runs, if there a people to run with and we fancy the pyramid hill I’ll do that. Any other time I fancy bursting my lungs through my chest, Dumb Womans Lane is the place for me.
Just so long as I don’t meet a van at the tightest, steepest corner. I don’t know who’ll be more shocked!
310.07 miles to go.