This weekend I was in Bath for a wedding and although I've been to Bath twice before, I hadn't run there. I've written before about running like a tourist. I never get tired of it.
Here are my rules for run tourism:
- Explore the local area
- See some good views or get a good workout (or both)
- Try not to annoy the person you're away with by getting lost/being late
- Casually mention your run tourism to anyone else you meet but don't bang on about it because not it's just possible everyone is as keen on running as you are
The wedding was at 2:30pm. After an unnecessarily hearty breakfast, sat around for a few hours to let it digest and then after some map ogling, figured out what I thought was an 8-9k route. If I left at about 12, I'd be back by 1 for a quick snack, a shower and still have time to make myself look pretty. I'm kidding of course. I don't need any time to make myself look pretty.
Leaving at 12:10, I told my girlfriend I'd be about no longer than an hour, hopefully back by 1. It seemed like a reasonable pace. My route was to take me up Bathwick Hill, past the university and down the other side before joining the Kennet and Avon canal which looped back round to Bath.
hat I hadn't factored in was quite how steep Bathwick Hill is. It goes up more than 500 feet in a mile which is enough for it to be a significant warm-up. I even got a "Good effort!" from a cyclist freewheeling down which gave me a boost. On reaching the summit, I took a slight detour before finding my way back on track. Worryingly, I was already behind schedule so picked up the pace. To be fair this wasn't hard after the first mile...
he downhill was, if anything, steeper than the up had been and I let gravity do its thing. The views were delightfully bucolic with trees and fields, lambs and stone walls lining my route.
When I reached the canal, I'd been running for a little over 20 minutes which meant I had around half an hour to run about 3.5 miles if I was to be on time. Not impossible in usual circumstances by any means but a) I was already a bit weary from my hill adventure and b) running at anything other than a slow jog hasn't been on the cards lately. Suddenly, my gentle tour had become a race against time.
I pushed on as hard as I thought I could maintain for the next half hour or so. I wasn't checking my pace so it was just me, the canal and the odd bike rider and barge driver. The views were pleasant but it was warm and I wasn't used to running at speed. Racing the clock but not knowing the route, was both intriguing and hard work. I tried to focus on my running form - head up, arms pumping back and forth, head still...
I knew the canal curved left but it didn't seem to be going left much. Was it a lot further than I'd anticipated? Was I really that slow these days? Would I even get under 55 minutes for a 10k?
Finally there were indications I was nearing the end and I remembered that running relaxed was more helpful than running tense and I eased through the last mile or so, pausing only to avoid some walkers and their friendly dogs.
By the time I'd bought lunch and got back to the hotel it was 1:10. I stood in a blissfully cold shower and eventually cooled down enough to put on my suit.
I'd seen some sights, got a good workout and not been late. The wedding was fun and I hardly mentioned my run to anyone.