Spreading Christmas cheer, a shocking phone battery and running into the hills. 

When you don’t have children Christmas isn’t quite the same however when you have a wife like mine you don’t need kids!! Excited isn’t the word. Christmas for us is spent alternating between My parents house in Bolton and my in laws in Liverpool which has its downsides as you end up spending lots of time travelling however this Christmas worked out brilliantly. Run wise I’d made my decision to run Christmas Day so as I drove home from work on Christmas Eve I stopped by the shops to buy a Santa hat and beard! If I was going out running I was entering into the Christmas spirit and doing it dressed as Santa! 

After opening our presents at home we headed out to the in laws the plan was to open more presents, spend some time and when the presents had been opened and before our Christmas dinner I was going to head out on the road. I was prepared for the run both mentally and physically and the few days rest had done me the world of good. I was also to have a running partner for a while during the run. My brother in law who recently started running to get fit and in the summer ran tough mudder was to head out with me. He’s decided 2016 is his year, he’s going to sign up for a marathon and complete the 26.2 miles of pain that Invareiably brings. We don’t run at the same pace however as we know it’s not how fast you get there it’s the getting there that counts. We sorted ourselves and much to the wife’s surprise I emerged from getting changed in by Santa hat and beard. I was ready!!! 

  
Christmas Day 1 hour 20 minutes long run.

As we headed out onto the streets of Litherland the weather was reasonable slight drizzle but still quite warm, us in the north of England found out Christmas Day the weather was to deteriorate and the region would be battered by rain that caused terrible floods and misery for a huge number of people. 

Using a route I’d planned on strava we set off on the flat roads that surround Liverpool and the first mile passed at around 8:30 min per mile, I felt comfortable and, Dan, the brother in law was hanging in following my lead. Our biggest surprise as we hit the main road was the reaction we was getting from the locals going about their journeys. As we ran, me in a Santa hat and beard, Dan in a Santa hat, each car that passed beeped their horns, waved vigorously or put  thumbs up. We were making people smile the Christmas cheer was spreading!! 

  
As we hit around 2.5 miles I had started to lose my partner, I’d got a comfy pace and was enjoying the run people were smiling, I was smiling and feeling strong. Around 3 miles I turned on my heals to find Dan however I realised quickly he’d headed home, I was now on my own. I continued my journey and I was running sub 8 minute miles whilst thinking back to the previous run I’d done with my work gear on my back – did that help me for today? Should I do it more often? Questions I didn’t really answer but they occupied my mind for a short while. As I hit 3.5 miles I was in full flow leaving the main roads behind and now heading in to more tricky country roads with very little pavement on a road called Virgins lane…I did stop to see if Mary and Joseph were in however they’d taken Jesus out for a walk so I continued on my journey. 

  
When strava hit five miles the roads become more water logged and pavementless So I decided it was safer for me to retrace my route back home. 

Unfortunately  as I clocked 7 miles my music suddenly stopped and as I checked my phone the battery had died. This frustrated me to a point but it meant I could hear the people on the pavements passing on wishes as well as people shouting from cars. Normally it’s abuse however today people were happy, comments were happy, I was happy and as I arrived back home I was strong and felt I could have gone further but that’s can wait. 

All in all a strong, enjoyable run for not just me but a few residents of the fantastic city of Liverpool, they made my day. I could enjoy my Christmas dinner without any guilt !! 

https://www.strava.com/activities/455999837

On Boxing Day a quick trip home from the in laws and clean clothes replenished we headed over to my parents house in Bolton. As I previously mentioned the weather had turned nasty and roads flooded all over the region so I made the decision I was to run on Sunday. This was ideal as I had to incorporate a 25 minute hill run and after my Christmas Day run I was confident. As I was awoke early on Sunday and I looked out the window the conditions were perfect, I was heading out this chance wasn’t going to be lost!! 

Sunday10 minutes easy, 25 minute hill run, 10 minutes easy.

45 minutes was the time running which isn’t a problem however with a hill run planned today was going to be tough. My parents have lived on the outskirts of Bolton for 34 years just off a road which heads out onto the moors called Smithills Dean road. This is a constant incline which has been a nemisis of mine over the years however today’s run would not just incorporate the Dean it would also take in some of winter hill. 

I headed out from the parents down the Dean as I had plotted my 10 minutes easy to take me away from Smithills Dean road. This meant I could attack the full climb that the Dean brings, awesome! After me easing into my run I hit 10 minutes and I started my assent of Smithills Dean at 1.5 miles. At this point I was feeling ok, not as strong as previous runs but I put that down to the amount of chocolate is consumed the previous two days!! The sun was out, I shortened my stride and got my head down focussing on a few feet ahead of me. This climb was going to take all my strength mentally and physically. 

 
Smithills Dean seems to go on for ever and when you reach a peak you see there’s still more to go and that can be soul destroying however it will never beat me!! I kept my focus on my breathing and the few feet of road ahead. Strong arms, deep breaths “you ain’t beating me” I kept repeating, glad the road was quiet as my language did turn blue for a while!   

    

  

  

  
As the hill progressed I saw a runner I front of me he appeared at the right time, doubt was creeping in, I decided I was catching him. I was challenging myself, stimulating my mind and keeping the thoughts off what was hurting, which was everything!! As the steps passed I gained ground on my competitor and after what seemed an age I caught up, a nod of the head and a simple morning was exchanged. I’d made the top and caught my target I was euphoric however I soon crashed back to earth realising I still had an ascent of 1 mile up a road onto winter hill, gutted!! Head back down, focus back on and final push. Frustratingly just at this point my phone battery died again!!! (iPhones battery is awful and I’m off to upgrade next week as a matter of urgency-1st world problems I know but mentally my music helps me when running, I need it!) 

I reached the end of the road where I knew this was 3 miles home so I turned back on myself again euphoric as I knew what goes up must come down!! My last push home was a descent, brilliant. It also meant I was able to take in the stunning views I had as I plodded home. The sun was out I could see the Peak District, the Welsh hills from the road I was on but more importantly I could see the top of my parents house through the trees. I won’t deny the climb was a slog, it took all I had and I didn’t really enjoy it but the descent home was brilliant and the sense of achievement I was feeling was overwhelming. Alongside this view and more miles in the legs today was a success and something to definitely build on after a few days rest. 

   
 https://www.strava.com/activities/457045481

In conclusion an enjoyable Christmas period with a few runs added for good measure but more importantly for me NO ALCOHOL…result!!! 

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