Some runs simply don’t go to plan …
but this one was in a bit of a class of its own. Was I jinxed? Or was this my own stupidity – coupled with a steep learning curve?
Not a bad start to the day, all things considered. A gentle breeze spread a sharp chill and storm clouds lurked in the distance ready for attack, but all in all a typical mid-summer’s day … July in England. Not to worry, I wasn’t going to be out too long. A gentle 10k up the hill to the Downs and back down again. Minimal planning, minimal kit required.
It felt pretty good, actually. I’ve been struggling to get into any kind of running routine since the end of May so I was expecting the 4k ascent, albeit a gentle one, up Dyke Road to take its toll fairly early on. I was pleasantly surprised. So surprised, in fact, that once I got to the top roundabout I decided to add on a couple of km by heading down to the rugby club and coming back off-road via the golf course.
Lesson 1: When you’ve planned a route, stick to it!
All was going well until I came off-road onto the trail and happened on a fork in the path (no, not of the cutlery kind!!). I didn’t hesitate for an instance. I knew exactly where I was going. The path to the right, of course, since that was the way I went last time, wasn’t it? Of course it was ……… (not)!!!
I was thoroughly enjoying the freedom of being in the middle of nowhere with beautiful scenery, the occasional rabbit scampering by, listening to some lovely music (yes – it was a headphone day!) … until the path ran out! Disappeared! All gone! It led into a very large field. It was a glorious field, admittedly, but I could see absolutely no sign of a trail leading right, left or any other way, so I surmised the track must pick up again on the other side and off I set. Ten minutes later, I had found no trail anywhere on the other side of the field. I had no option but to backtrack the way I had come. Obviously, I should’ve gone left at that fork, not right.
I turned around to retrace my steps and WHOA!! I couldn’t see three feet in front of me. While I’d been running along the field a stealthy wall of fog had shadowed and stalked me and had me well and truly cornered. Dammit! This happened to The Famous Five many moons ago. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!
Lesson 2: South Downs – watch the weather!
It was actually quite scary, so time to stop a moment, think, assess the situation and plan my next move. I stood and reassessed, took my first slug of water ………………………………………. and spat it straight back out. Suds. Nothing but suds. I peered at the bottle. I’d washed it, rinsed and rinsed again – but sure enough there was nothing to see but bubbles. Marvellous. Alone on the South Downs, lost, no water.
Lesson 3: Triple-check water bottles before leaving!
I could just about make out some telegraph poles, so I headed in that direction. Chances were they were going to lead me close to a road at some point. I found a hedge, too, and since I could barely see anything else, I resolved to stick to that hedge. I decided it was time to text Karim – just in case. Good to have some back-up – or at least to tell him that I was somewhere on the Downs.
OK. Keep calm, don’t panic. All I needed to do was turn on Location Services. That would (a) allow Karim to at least track my phone when he missed me sometime the following Thursday? – and (b) give me access to a compass and the Google function called something like Where-the-fuck-am-I!!
No signal. No internet.
Lesson 4: Take a goddamned map next time!!
So let’s see. I had absolutely no idea where I was. I couldn’t see a damn thing. I couldn’t hear any traffic. I had no idea which direction I was facing. It was cold (I was, after all, simply going for a gentle 10k). I had no water. No phone. No map.
But I had a hedge. Yay! Small mercies and all that … and just standing there was not going to get me anywhere, was it!!!!!! (??????) lol
Within a few minutes, I had run out of hedge, but there was something sticking out of the ground not far away and I trudged towards it. Woo Hoo!! A pin! A golf pin. Result! Of course, there was no number on it. I actually laughed at that. Don’t golf pins usually have numbers on them so at least you know what hole you’re on? Or am I the only person in the world that probably wouldn’t know that even if I was playing? Haha I was a little disappointed as I was still hopeful I’d get a phone signal at some point and at the very least be able to text Karim that I was close to ‘the 12th tee’ or whatever – but that was not to be either, seemingly.
Still, at this point I was celebrating because even if I couldn’t see in front of me, I COULD make out the difference at my feet between fairway and rough. All I had to do was follow the fairways and at some point I was going to hit the 19th hole! Fab. I stuck pretty close to the edge of the fairway so I didn’t end up doing something really stupid and going round in circles (again)! I was sort of smiling by that time, too. The fog seemed a little lighter. There was even a sign of some kind ahead – at least I knew civilisation had visited these parts! Oh, hold on – now that just takes the bloody biscuit, doesn’t it?
CAUTION!! ADDERS ON THIS SITE!!
You have got to be kidding me. Somebody was well and truly taking the piss. No doubt. Snakes? FFS!! What’s that about!!
But I was going to have to deal with that as and when!
Twenty minutes later I had passed two more tees and suddenly, as swiftly as it crept up, the fog lifted and there in front of me, the Clubhouse!
Water, phone signal, clear sky and I KNEW WHERE I WAS!! A bit late, but hey ho.
A few valuable lessons learned. I always thought running was a case of ‘just get out the door and plant one foot in front of the other quickly’! But no! It takes a teensy bit more preparation than that – or was that just me being very unlucky?
If nothing else, I would like to point out to any ‘new’ runners who happen to read this ….. that it takes that one decision, that one second, that one ‘turn’, one choice of route ……. to turn a casual 10k into 20+. You can laugh (and I am certainly laughing) at my pathetic misadventures … but in reality the South Downs, fog, no water, unprepared? Not a good mix!
What midadventures have you had, then? I’d love to hear them!