Monday 14 January 2013

Something for the weekend sir?

I was reading Trail Running Magazine  in October (I think) when I came across a short article which grabbed my attention.  The article was about running holidays and suggested a number of different locations and places where you could go on a specific running holiday.  I hadn't been looking to book a holiday or even a short break abroad but I'm always on the lookout for places to go in the UK where we can take the dogs.  

Ever since Nikki and I visited Ireland and took Keeley (our elder black lab) on holiday with us, we've been keen to include them on our holidays, they spend so much time without us when we travel with work, it seems only fair to include them in family holidays.  So when one of the recommendations was not only a UK location but also stated dogs were very welcome, I jumped at the chance of booking a weekend away.  

Jelley Legs is just outside Ripon, North Yorkshire and a perfect place for runners to visit and get some [serious] miles in with the excellent guiding of an experienced ultra marathon runner, David Jelley.  David's business caters for runners of all levels, so don't be put off thinking you have to run 50 miles over the weekend, although you can if you want.  

Our weekend started with a fairly long trip up the M1/A1 to Ripon, arriving mid-afternoon, just in time for tea & cake.  David showed us to our room, where the fire was going and the dogs settled in right away (as you can see from the picture).  Conversation during the cuppa covered a brief running history for both of us and what we wanted to achieve from the weekend.  You could see David's brain ticking away as he was thinking of different routes we could cover during the weekend, he was personalising our weekend away.

Before darkness set in, we changed into our running gear and set out the front door for a 7 miler through the local 800 acre Studley Royal Park.  A perfect and gentle run to blow away the cobwebs of the M1.  The dogs loved it and whilst we had one little incident with the deer, they were very well behaved indeed.  The park is a beautiful location with the ruins of Fountains Abbey (dates back to 1132) and is a designated World Heritage Site managed by the National Trust.  Whilst we didn't have time to see much of this vast estate, what we did see was wonderful and certainly worth spending more time exploring.

Upon our return home we showered and prepared for our evening meal with David and his wife, Damaris.  We'd opted in for the evening meal option and loved the 3 course vegetarian food; you can't beat good home cooked food!  During dinner we discussed the route for the next day and worked out logistics.  This is where David's guiding really came into its own, he selected a route that would allow us to run together with the dogs, covering about 14 miles or so in the morning.  Then we'd meet up with Damaris and she'd take Nikki and the dogs home whilst David and I continued the pain, I mean joy, of running around the Dales.

The next morning saw us enjoying a beautiful breakfast of home made granola and fresh fruit (other options were available) plus some home made bread toasted with peanut butter (my favourite).  Perfect fuelling in preparation for our long run ahead.  A short time later we departed on the short journey to our starting location where we parked up and got ourselves ready for the off.  David carries a back pack full of goodies but I had my camel pack and some snacks and warm clothing.  We were off and it was a fantastic day for running although it was cold, it wasn't raining (for once) and the scenery was outstanding.

Normally when Nikki and I run together I put a podcast on (Talk Ultra or similar) or some music through my iPhones loud speaker (I hate headphones).  Nikki has her headphones on and listens to her own playlist, although she'll often sing along to my tracks as well.  We talk on occasion but it's not a constant conversation.  It was refreshing to not have my music on and all of 3 of us chatted away throughout the day.  We talked about different races, potential options for races in the future, our careers away from running, etc.  I must say the time flew by and before long we were crossing the dam at the meeting point where we'd say goodbye to Nikki and the two dogs.  

The route had taken us about 14 miles across the some wonderful countryside and now it was time to hop in the car and head a little bit further down the road so our daily total would be somewhere in the region of 21 miles.  Getting out of the car and moving again was really hard work; now I understand why all those books advise not sitting down at aid stations......advice heeded.  After some fairly steep climb David and I rejoined our path from earlier that day and headed back towards the car.  This was officially my longest run ever and while the time wasn't anything special it was a good run with plenty of climb and I loved every mile of it.

Upon returning to David's house we cleaned up and enjoyed a wonderful selection of cheese, bread and biscuits along with fresh fruit and wonderfully warming cups of tea, bliss!

The end to this spectacular day was topped off by a trip to the pub with David & Damaris and a good friend of theirs, Martin.  Being included in their circle of friends and driven to the local made Nikki and I feel that this was the start of a friendship, rather than paying guests of a business, thank you both so much.

Sunday had us up a little later than normal and we enjoyed another excellent breakfast, where I probably ate too much of the wonderful granola.  We donned our running gear and headed out the door for some active recovery running as they call it.  I was amazed at how easily my legs adjusted and didn't feel sore at all.  Davids advice of wearing compression gear overnight after a long run like that appears to have had a positive impact, must remember that one for the future.

Our final jog was somewhat sedate around the local lanes and fields, taking in an old house with a moat, which that morning was frozen almost completely.  We finished our trip off with a quick cuppa before packing up and hitting the road for the long journey south.  My expectations of a running holiday greatly exceeded, I can't recommend Jelley Legs enough to you!  Not only will your running improve, you'll see stunning scenery, enjoy fantastic food; best of all you'll make new what are you waiting for?  Get over to now :-)