After last Thursdays fourteen miler I’m feeling confident so decide to go for a run over the Calderdale Way Relay Leg 4, with runners from a local running club. Sunday morning comes round and I’m not feeling as confident.
Most of the runners who were going to run aren’t now because of the reputation of the guy leading the run as a hard and fast runner and it is bitterly cold with a layer of snow covering the high ground of Yorkshire.
My nerves aren’t helped when on arriving at the meeting point I am greeted by six runners who all look like they know what they are doing and I feel out of my depth and worry that I will be left behind in the middle of the moors somewhere!
We begin from Blackshaw Edge and immediately I am trailing behind the others. I am struggling badly on the downhills today which seem to be covered in either wet leaves or snow. Either way I’m not in a downhill mood today and this sets the theme for the rest of the run.
We go down and up some small climbs before we go through woods on narrow trails which connect the small villages around this area. We begin the big descent to the bottom of the valley and I am left behind struggling to get a decent pace going on the wet cobbles and leaves.
I get to the bottom and soon I am beginning the first major ascent a brutal climb of around 700ft to the top of the moors. On the climb I find some decent form at last and manage to keep the other runners in sight for a change!
At the top of the moors the landscape changes.
We go from paths covered in leaves and mud to a vast open expense of snow covered moorland. There is a trig point for us to aim for but the paths have disappeared under the snow and it is easy to take a wrong path as we find out a couple of times!
It is at once stunningly beautiful with a raw harshness and you know you could easily take a wrong turn or twist an ankle and nature would chew you up and leave you in no doubt who was in charge.
The only paths to follow are the occasional trail that pokes through the snow or the stream that run down to the valley below. After five minutes my feet have turned to blocks of ice. I have no feeling below my ankles, every step feels like I am running on bricks, jarring my shins and making it difficult to run. This is a new experience for me and one I may need to get used to.
Strange thoughts go through my mind, will I ever regain any feeling in my feet? Will they turn black? Will they fall off? Can I run 21 miles with this feeling in my feet if I need to?
This lack of feeling in my feet continues for around four miles. It’s a massive relief when we finally start to come off the moors and see green fields and know I will be warm again.
After another downhill on which I again struggle embarrassingly the final climb comes into view and I find my stride and manage to save some face.
All in all it’s been a very good days running with new running friends and a new route too. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, where I am strong and where I need to improve, but most of all despite struggling on the downhills and thinking my feet were going to drop off because they were so cold I’ve really enjoyed myself and hope to do it again soon.