Until very recently, I used to be very much a solo runner, going out racking up the miles on my own, using that time to get away from it all and reflect inwardly on what’s going on in my life. Now this is great as you can go out for a run and work out your problems without interruption and come back feeling better about life in general (usually). However, there is a lot to be said for going out with a group of likeminded people for a run.
I’ve recently started going up to QE country park on a Wednesday evening to run with a group, I wrote about this previously HERE. As I’ve alluded to I don’t normally do social runs and I also don’t normally run in the evenings either due to being to knackered from work, so all very new to me. Last night was the third week in a row that I attended and I have to say that my solo running mindset has been fully eroded away by good company, great routes, fun and laughter. The concept is simple, turn up and run, we go at the pace of the slowest runner, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are.
Each week the QE social run is different, different people, different numbers, different route, though the core members of the group are immediately apparent. The social run group is made up of local runners from various clubs from the area Portsmouth, Gosport, Stubbingon Green, etc, as well as non-club runners like myself. There’s no pressure to sign up with any club either, just come for a run. If you run in events locally, either races or parkrun, you tend to get to know people’s names/faces without having met and you’ll see them time and time again. Social runs like this mean that you get the opportunity to socialise with a lot of people that you recognise from events (or social media) that you’d never normally get to talk to. This weeks excursion was the same again, with a lot more people this time than previous weeks I didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone, but connections are made. “Ah, weren’t you on the Windmill Hill run the other week?”, “What a fantastic run the other week” and so forth, conversation starters for future encounters.
The run started from the car park at 7pm and on this occasion took us up the back of Windmill Hill and back to QE in a nice loop. The route was gently undulating along the boundary of the park, then out across the fields towards Windmill Hill, following the public footpaths. Some of the paths were a little overgrown, nettles and brambles biting away at bare flesh, but that’s part and parcel of trail running. The pictures that I’ve taken do the scenery no justice, especially Windmill Hill, it is such a steep hill, I wish I got a some pictures from further back as the pictures taken on the ascent really don’t show the extent of it.
Obviously I would have run all the way to the top without stopping, but *cough* I had to stop and get pictures *cough*. Absolutely nothing to do with fact that it’s steeper than a steep thing and my legs and lungs were screaming at me after a few hundred metres! It may be ridiculously steep but boy were the views worth it, along with the sense of accomplishment gained from looking back at where we had just come from.
The view from halfway up was something….
…but look at the view from the top. Spectacular. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are so blessed to have all of this on our doorstep. All those years spent living in the city centre and I rarely ventured up here into this beautifully picturesque countryside. I didn’t know what I was missing, but I do now so that’s all that matters. The other great thing about climbing these hills is the run back down, what goes up must come down after all.
The descent through this field had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat! Running headlong down the slope, massive bounding strides, arms flailing wildly out to one side whilst plummeting downwards, a sense of abandon and running without a care, wonderful. You’ve got to lean into it, let go and embrace it without thinking about stacking it! I don’t have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe the full extent of my enjoyment here.
I was just sad that it was over so quickly, we were out for about an hour and a quarter covering just five miles, but it seemed like no time at all. I could have happily spent another hour or more exploring further. I’m in my element out here.