Sp today didn't go quite as planned. My lovely wife couldn't come with us as she's a bit under the weather to say the least - hopefully she can come next week though.
But Neighbour turned up, we put the dogs in his car and hit the road. We parked at High Vinnals car park, let the dogs do their doggy things (in order: pooing, weeing, sniffing), then walked up to the fire road aka the forest road. From there, we did most of the course I enjoyed so much last week, but with only two stops on it, and those were very, very brief. We did what we know as the 'up downs', the main fire road that rings the hill, and is most undulant. There's one rise which is really disheartening, as you're nearing the top and it actually gets significantly steeper in the last hundred metres; at the top, I asked Neighbour to stop; turn around; and I said simply, "We just ran up that!". From there, we took a right up the hill, not the steepest path but not far off. It just goes on and on... I started to struggle toward the top of this, but didn't quit - mainly because Neighbour was in front of me, not in a competitive way, but it helped drive me on.
We made it. We kept going. We went past where we stopped last time, followed the trail (it is just possible for vehicles to access this, but they have to be fairly hardy 4x4s at this point, I would think), it undulated some more, and then curved up to the left. I knew this was coming, and we could have taken an earlier left which would have taken out the top of the hill, but hell, if you're going to do it, do it.
Neighbour made me laugh on this hill. It got steep, quickly, and he gasped "This is a hill too far!" Well, it seemed funny at the time.
It was fucking hard though. I changed my gait, using my Achilles tendon to bounce-and-return, saving some muscular effort. This works for me, but on a hill this hard, after what we had already climbed, it meant my steps were very short. But they did not stop, and that is key.
At the top of this, the track improves and becomes a more standard forest road, with an observation point at the top. From here, you can see most of the county. That's how it feels. There's not much anywhere near as high for miles around, the views are beautiful. And the feeling that we had just run up there? Unreal. It was another pause moment. I said to Neighbour, "Enjoy the view. We just ran up here." I then took a second to explain downhill technique, letting the quads absorb the impact, landing with the leg bent so the knee is not a shock absorber, and how his quads were going to be crying shortly, as we had a couple of downhill milles to cover in switchbacks.
And cover them we did. It was pure heaven for the first mile, as blood poured back into my hamstrings. Then it ached a bit in my quads and I wondered, if mine are aching now, how are Neighbour's? Mine are huge - he has very slim legs, not much quadricep. But he coped fine, and then the hard bit came and sorted us both out.
At the end of the switchbacks is a bit of a hill; Wife of Loveliness explained it was like a hill in town, "but stretched out - not so steep but longer". Well, it felt much, much harder, though again at first it was a relief as the opposing muscles took the lead. these hills just seemed to go on and on and on. In fact, they did - it wasn't that they seemed to at all. The hill would curve away around a bend, you'd make it to the bend and discover no respite, just more hill. Or five seconds of flat-ish, and then more hill.
And then, we were there. Back where we started. Exhilarated, hurting a little bit, but there and both completely over the moon.
I'm still on cloud nine, having run up and past clouds one to eight. Might aim for cloud ten next week, it's just up the next hill, after all.
Best. Run. Ever.