Day 10. Bicester to Wallingford
Driving to Bicester early on Sunday morning we passed the fields around Oxford that had been recently flooded. We had our fingers crossed that the water would have subsided enough for us to run through the area fairly easily. The day looked promising on the weather front and support-wise with four runners and two cars lined up for a day-on-the-road to Wallingford!
For the first section of Sunday’s run Ben, friend, artist and marathon guru, had travelled over from London to join me. The starting point was back at Sainsbury’s car park, via Bicester High Street, and after a few final kit-checks: nuun, gloves and Garmin, we were ready to go! The first few miles are always a warm-up/ see how everything feels type of affair – but with a friend to talk to, they soon passed by. In fact, the miles chalked up quickly and a few times, as Ben and I were bimbling along busy chatting, we over-ran the turning points on the planned route and had to be guided back to the correct road by the support cars! Oops!
The next section was fairly smooth, and soon enough the support group meeting point was on the horizon, Thornhill Park & Ride. Waiting there were the three eager Oxford runners Baptiste, Pete & Pierre and next on the map was ‘Shotover’ – which was so thick with mud I’m sorry to say I could not ‘shoot’ over it! We ploughed up and over the hill, and started a descent through scenic Oxfordshire countryside and villages.
There was one surprise on order for Sunday, which arrived when Georgie jumped out from behind someone’s garden bush in the middle of a village! I was not expecting to see my sister at all, or maybe at the end, so it was lovely to see her beaming face leap out after she had driven down from London, which gave me a huge positive mental boost!
With three support cars now in tow, our running group of four crossed the River Thames and ticked off a few more villages, including Drayton St. Leonard home to a rare wooden church tower. At one point we did almost run in to some flood water along a low lying lane. The cars took it easy, Georgie at this point blasting music from the radio for us, which helped slightly since I was at about twenty five miles for the day by then and the running-aches you would expect were starting to set in, including the knees. A megaphone or a big race-timing clock on top of her car, London marathon style, would have made the situation even better!
We stopped at one junction to check the maps and grab a few extra sugary energy supplies. Time was ticking but we were all keen to make it to Wallingford. But the next village was Dorchester, then Shillingford, and then Wallingford! The road into Wallingford seemed unusually long – home straights always do, but eventually we spied the village sign – and the support crew waiting alongside it! Sharing high-fives and nods of accomplishment we realised in total thirty two miles had been covered. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Ben and the Oxford runners, Baptiste, Pete and Pierre – who looked like they had been out for an easy jog, and Ben was heard talking about a tempo run?! It was a day to celebrate in terms of running, especially when just a few days ago I was seriously worried about my knees holding up. But with three more days to go I was also very cautious not to get ahead of myself, and immediately began the recovery process to make sure Monday would not feel too blue. Thanks to the efforts of everyone over the whole weekend it had been a total high!