I took leave from work last Wednesday in order to complete a final long training run ahead of the London Marathon. The unseasonal early sunshine that had graced much of the country continued and I woke at 8.30am to clear blue skies and looked forward to 20ish miles road running through the Vale of Belvoir.
A bowl of porridge, a coffee and a pint of water later I left Grantham for Harlaxton Road - Denton - Harston - Knipton - Branston - Belvoir Castle - Woolsthorpe - Denton and back to Grantham. Similar to previous long training runs I drove the route the night before and dropped water and food at approximately 6 mile intervals. I have run a 25 mile version of the this run twice this year but decided to scale it back a bit as its now just three weeks until the marathon.
|Mysterious Staring Horse|
The previous evening I had done some speed work around Dysart Park in Grantham. Laps of 400m were completed, 1 lap, rest, then 2 laps, rest, 3 laps etc until 4 fast laps were completed. We then ran back down 3, 2 and finally 1 more tiring lap. As I climbed out of Grantham the next morning I felt tired and knew I was in for 20 'long' miles. By the time I reached the countryside which surrounds Belvoir Castle I was enthused by the sunshine, it was hot, and felt like a run in the middle of summer, brilliant! I sat and rested at a drinks stop just past Branston before shuffling on towards the castle. On the approach to the castle car park I happened upon a local Romany gypsy accompanied by his chickens, dogs and horse. I have seen the vardo alongside local grass verges before and as I ran past I resolved to return later and make use of the Gypsy's knife sharpening service which is advertised outside his van.
I ran on onto Woolsthorpe and walked up the hill towards Denton. I would have normally tried to keep running but today was about enjoying the run and being close to London I had an excuse to take the foot off the pedal. I stopped again at the salt bin at Denton, refuelling this time on 'high five' and bananas before hammering out the final few miles back to Grantham. I ran home in 3 hours after a roughly estimated 20 miles of running on one of those days when the weather makes you wish you could run forever.
Later in the evening I returned to the Gypsy's vardo. Approaching cautiously whilst scattering the wild hens I stood outside and shouted a greeting, I couldn't see a doorbell on this house! I could hear what sounded like a television inside but after a few more shouted greetings it was clear there was nobody home. Outside the vardo there were plates and mugs for sale, a sign advertising palm readings and a big wooden machine on wheels which appeared to be the knife sharpener. The mysterious, adjacent white horse was staring at me and making me nervous so I decided to leave three chopping knives of the Gypsy's top step. I retreated to the car glad to be away from the constant yapping of the Gypsy's dogs and the stare of the white mare which were tied to a adjacent trees. I couldn't get back to the vardo until Saturday evening and I took a risk that the gypsy and the knives would still be there three days later (i don't think my partner was very impressed!). On Saturday evening i pulled alongside and retrieved three duly sharpened kitchen knives. The knife sharpener told me he had been in the pub during my previous visit!
This was a great run in brilliant weather through some of Lincolnshire's finest countryside culminating in a Lincolnshire liaison with a real Romany, fantastic and three Sharp knives to boot...