One thing that the Great British Relay 2014 gave me was a better appreciation of the beautiful countries we all live (and run) in here in the UK. My addiction to the GPS tracker while following our baton around the coast meant that for an entire month I was watching scenery like this unfold...
When it came to our own turn to carry the baton from Clevedon to Portishead, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and some stunning views.
We also got ourselves into some enjoyable scrapes navigating our way through a wood... And I nurtured a growing fondness for hills as we dragged ourselves up one of Portishead's finest.
(I swear most of that 178 metres of elevation was in one fairly short climb.)
The upshot of all this is that since the relay, I've realised what a boring way I was going about my regular runs. I don't know what I was thinking before, trundling around the same old routes every day. I began seeking out greener, more interesting and increasingly hillier trails. This culminated near the end of last year in devoting four days of my holiday to running off-road races in some spectacular landscape in Cyprus. One was a "soft" mountain run that involved 667m of climb in 11km... It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life!
In the last few months, following the recurrence of an old injury, I've really stepped up the off-road running. And I'm LOVING. IT. As it turns out, despite living in the city, I live in exactly the right part of the city to get out on to some proper hilly, muddy trails within a matter of minutes. I didn't even realise this before! Winter running so far has been an absolute pleasure.
Plus, not only is all this off-road running protecting my joints and toughening me up for cross country season, it's actually allowing me to run MORE - because I can recover faster. Amazing!
Anyway, we're gearing up here at The Relay Record for 2015's record attempt so expect a few more posts as we test out the community blogging system. Ta-ra for now.
Photo credits: Matt Burden