First desert run

Agafay

I came across this chap about 5 minutes into the run – he seemed happy to keep to his side of the path and you can probably see the very top of my shadow in the foreground as I gingerly took this shot.

Today was the first desert run. Charlie drove us out to the Agafay desert which is about 45 minutes from Marrakech, into the sands and rock and off we set. We had agreed that we would run out for an hour and back for an hour as our paces are so different. Guess who is slower…..

The path was quite clear and with the mountains in one direction and wooded hills in the other, navigation didn’t seem like it would be too difficult. The conditions are very similar to what we will be doing in terms of the rocky terrain and the altitude at around 1000 metres so it was a brilliant chance to see how I felt. I also wore my Hokkas with the two sock system, second day in a row after yesterday’s 12.5 miler to see how that would go. And I carried just 75ml of water and no food.

I felt very heavy legged as I got going and felt all the hills up but didn’t seem to benefit from the downs. I tried to only drink every fifteen minutes and let myself slow down then to walk for a few paces while I slurped.  Half an hour went by quite quickly, and then another quarter but the last quarter till half way dragged. I was looking at my watch every 30 seconds which is not a good sign. I also felt quite clumsy in my shoes which are a size and a half too big for me and have very thick soles. But I did feel that they sheltered me a bit from the stones on the path.

It wasn’t really too hot. The sun was very fierce  but the temperature wasn’t bad – I reckon around 70.

The half way point was nirvana. Although, I was disappointed that I had only just got over the 4 mile mark.  In an hour I should get to 5 miles even at my excruciatingly slow pace. I stopped for a wee and a good drink – rationing myself still to half way down the bottle as I had to get back. When I got up though, I felt really sick and dizzy. I’ve never really felt like that on a run before and it wasn’t a huge amount of fun.

I wasn’t totally sure what to do, but thought it was best to press on so set off at a brisk walk, which felt so much easier than the running. And then after a mile, I felt better and started off at a run again. A miracle happened – I got some flow! I suddenly felt like a runner and speeded up. I felt a rhythm and a real sense of joy and ease. My pace increased dramatically – remember it starts off at a very low base. It was a truly great feeling and made me think that maybe, just maybe, one day I will feel like that for longer than 20 mins. Still, every little helps, as they say.

So, 8 miles. Four of them trudging, one of them struggling and three of them flying.

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