Trinity Street Pic

Route and Shoe Trial in Cambridge

Christmas has been and gone and sometime during the festivities my wife handed me money and says buy some running shoes. I’d been fairly happy with the Asics I’d been wearing so tried to find something similar but maybe slightly better. I tried Sports Direct. My original shoes (Asic Gel Blackhawk) had been bought there. They had two pair of Asics and both were well beyond my price range. I was very tempted to buy from a proper running shop such as ‘Up and Running’  but looking around there I couldn’t find anything under a hundred pounds and my budget was 50, that could possibly stretch to 60 if I saw something absolutely amazing. I decided to go to the

running shoes picInternet and found Gel-Hyper33 for only just under 48 pounds. They looked to be just my type of shoe. They had a gel cushion to try and absorb some of the impact of my 14 stone crashing down on them and that cushioning was in the middle which is where I tend to land. When I received them I tried them on in the house and ran up and down the stairs in them. Not the most conclusive test in the world but they felt quite good and seemed to fit. Today I decided I would give them a proper test trial outside in the big wide world. I also wanted to try out a new running route. We’ve been having the showers refurbished at my place of work so I’ve been wondering about running there and back to work so that I can try to fit in some extra runs.

Today, both the shoes and the route would be under test.

My route is one I’ve cycled many times but I was interested to see if I would enjoy running it. I go over the cycle bridge from Milton and then cross the road near the entrance to the Science Park, then to the busway and turn right down there. I go to the second bus stop and then cross over Kings Hedges Road and follow Kirkwood Road to the recreation ground. I’m finding it fairly easy going and the shoes feel good. They’re very light and let air pass through them. In fact at this moment my feet are feeling quite cold.  The route is not exciting me though. It may be that I’ve cycled this route so often that I now feel jaded by it. I very rarely take headphones with me, preferring the sound of my own thoughts and allowing myself to soak up the sights and sounds of the places I’m passing through. I wonder if I start to run this route regularly whether I should bring along my Ipod and a few podcasts for the purposes of Jim entertainment.

I continued along Cameron Road, Northfield Avenue and did a bit of a wiggle onto Mere Way. This leads onto Carlton Way and then it’s just straight on to Shire Hall. So, hello workplace, pleased to see you. I’ve run 5 and a half kilometres and am feeling nicely warmed up. I trot around the front lawn for a while. I’m thinking of running back along the route I’ve just done but it isn’t really calling to me. I then look down the hill and see Cambridge spread out in all its glory. It’s just too enticing.  I should run around there for a bit. I have no plan now. I’m just running and I’ll decide where to go as things progress.

The Backs are my first target. There is a row of colleges along the river and the backs of all these colleges display their beautiful lawns here and some River Cam picof them provide convenient bridges so that we are able to cross over into the centre of Cambridge.

I cross over and turn left onto Trinity Street. The sun is out now and it’s absolutely glorious. I’m really revelling in the run now. The sights are beautiful. There are people nodding and smiling as I pass by and the sun is being ever so beatific. I realise that I’m now almost certainly on part of the Cambridge Half Marathon Route. This will be my next big run. I’ve never taken part in a half marathon before so it’s going to be a fascinating challenge. I managed to run the 13.1 mile distance a few weeks ago for the very first time so that has reduced the fear of it a little bit.  I got so excited when I did manage the half marathon distance that I didn’t just sign up for the Cambridge Half Marathon. I signed  up for the Blenheim half and the Histon and Impington Flaming June run. A complete half marathon beginner signing up for 3 of them. That’s not too many is it.

pic of Jesus GreenAnyway, enough of me displaying my stupidity here. There’s more running and more stupidity later. I continue onwards onto Jesus Green and straight across that onto Midsummer Common. It’s starting to get a little busier here now and there’s quite a bit of dodging bicycles and other runners going on. One of the downsides of living somewhere so downright beautiful is that everyone else wants to be out enjoying it too. I keep moving on to Stourbridge Common and hear a yell. Squinting into the sun I’m no wiser so I trot over to see. It’s Lloyd, one of the people I meet up with when I do Parkruns. We shake hands and  he says what a shame it was that Parkrun had been cancelled the previous day. The wind was quite ferocious and had brought down a number of trees. It was felt that we probably shouldn’t risk having 400 parkrunners rampaging through the country park while the wind was so determined to drop heavy duty foliage upon our heads. Apparently Lloyd went across to Bury St Edmunds and did the Parkrun there. That should help his rehabilitation.  Lloyd is yet another of our crowd who is recovering from an injury. It is unfortunately all too common. I’m keen to carry on my run so we wave goodbye and go about our business. I cut back down to the river. There seems to be a boat race there today so I decide to stay this side of the river rather than cross over at The Green Dragon Inn. I dip under the bridge and then plod off into the muddy mess that is Ditton Meadows. It’s hard going here and it’s here I find out something else about my new running shoes. They seem to be designed to let lots of air get to your feet but that also means that they are quite happy to let all the water there is slosh straight through the uppers to give your feet a bit of close up watery goodness. It was quite a shock. I squelched into the puddle and it got rather more access to my feet than I was expecting. Maybe these are designed to be specifically summer shoes. I slosh and squelch a little more until I emerge from the mud into the quaint little village of Fen Ditton itself. I’m just about to turn left around the church when around 20 cyclists all adorned in high footpathviewvisibility jackets emerge from a footpath to my right. I’ve never noticed this before so decided to take a look. It was a delightful path running alongside a dream Georgian mansion and then taking me on a detour around Fen Ditton. Then I wound back into the village to approach the church from the other direction. A nod of acknowledgement to the church and down the street to the public footpath across the playing fields. It was about now I started to think I must have run for quite some considerable distance. I’d run 13K and was beginning to wander whether today might be a good day to test whether I could run half-marathon distance again. I’d only need to do 3K to get to 16K and after that it’s only 5K and 5K is easy. I tend to think in terms of chunks of 5K if I’m trying to talk myself into something. Doing a 5K run itself is quite hard as you’re usually running quite fast but 5K as part of a longer run doesn’t seem like a huge challenge. I figured that I’d run to Baits Bite Lock and then up toward Milton Village and see how far I’d gone then. If I was within sight of a half marathon distance then I’d loop around the village a couple of times to add the extra kilometres.

Upon re-entering Milton Village I see I’ve done 16 and a half kilometres. Now I’m definitely within sight of a half marathon distance. There are less than 5 kilometres to go. Surely that should be easy. Unfortunately my world has just fallen in on my head. I can’t seem to lift my legs. My stomach feels incredibly queasy and I feel decidedly groggy. At this point I should have stopped and made my way home but I kept thinking, “No, no no, I’m so close. I can just stagger the last 5 kilometres.”  So, staggering is exactly what I did. I went into the country park and ran around the edge but then I found that the juniors were doing their Sunday Parkrun so I felt it best to get out of their way. I retraced my steps and then plunged into the village, winding back and around and across and over. All the time I felt sick and completely without energy. Eventually I tottered  home with a time of about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I know – it may sound slow to you folks but for me it was a 10 minute improvement on the last time I’d managed to run this distance.

I’m sat outside the house with my head in my hands and my darling wife opens the door. She smiles at me and tells me not to take my shoes off. “I need you to go to the supermarket.” I nod meekly, do a few stretches then smile and totter off to the shop. I’m limping now. The shoes have given me blisters on my right foot. The left one fits absolutely perfectly. The right one, not so much. I may have to wear extra socks in that one or maybe I can fit an extra insole.

I’m feeling ill when I return to the house. I can’t even eat the smoked salmon on tiger bread that is waiting for me. I bathe and then crawl into bed feeling sorry for myself. An hour later or so I manage a coffee and eat the salmon. I’m still feeling slightly dodgy but a good deal better than before. I must have suffered some kind of deficiency that caused my body to suffer so at 17 or 18 kilometres. Maybe there’s something I should have been eating or drinking. I didn’t take any water but with the temperature hovering around 3 or 4 degrees Celsius then I’m not losing massive amounts in sweat. It was a very odd feeling indeed. However, I’m feeling much better now and am glad I did the run. It’s a frightfully long distance so I’m pleased to have been able to prove to myself that I can still do it.

This route available to view on Strava

3 thoughts on “Route and Shoe Trial in Cambridge”

  1. Sounds like a lovely run! I personally find that 16k is about the limit I can do without nutrition, otherwise like you I hit a wall and can be quite poorly later (usually I fall asleep). By the time you feel that way it’s too late – best to take something at 10k or so, so that it will kick in before the 16k mark. That made a big difference for me…I like shotbloks, sort of very wet jelly cubes. In a race I eat one every 5k and it gets me through…everyone is different though, you’ll just have to see what your tummy will accept 🙂

    1. Thanks Heather
      I was wondering whether it might be something like that. It really felt like I’d run out of something or other but I didn’t really know what. I’ll try some sort of nutrition in future on the longer runs to see if that helps.

  2. Well done Jim. Nice to read about your run. I too had the problem of my body giving up – just like yours – when I was preparing for the Cambridge half marathon 2 years ago. It was my first half and I had set off on a target of 12 miles around Cambridge, but as I found out afterwards, had not taken enough fluids or nutrition. I was new to running then and just went for it. After about 10 miles (so two miles away from home), I crumbled. Energy went, felt ill, could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I sat on a wall for a while and then really slowly walked the last two miles from Fen Causeway roundabout to home (near the Science Park), so all along The Backs and then Milton Road.
    I had to get over this mental ‘wall’ and did so a couple of weeks later by completing that same route. I used (and still use) the High 5 gels which I get in Up and Running. The guys in there recommended them. as Heather says though, you need to try these things out before an important or meaningful run, just to check that your stomach is OK with them. Ask the guys in the shop for advice – they are only about one pound per go if you wanted to try some.

    Also, I’m with you on the breathable shoes. All of the Brooks I’ve had (I always wear Brooks now due to width issues) have the same top as yours. When I first ran in them it felt like built-in air conditioning, but like you, I soon learned on wet Parkruns, that your socks don’t stay dry for very long.
    I’m due to pick up a new pair of off-road Brooks this week, so will see if they are the same.

    Great reading your blogs !

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