Running Through History

Today’s run was an out and back along the Roman Road from Wandlebury. There is quite a lot of history on display in a small area. The Roman Road itself is known as Worsted Street now. Well, to be fair it’s not widely known as Worsted Street. There are suggestions that the name is something to do with the wool trade which in turn suggests that the name is medieval but nobody really knows. The Friends of Fleam Dyke and the Roman Road website also suggests that if could be called Wolves Street. That’s cool; wolves ranging out between Abington and Linton.

Wherever possible, I like to run along the surface of the road and not in the ditch.


Diagram courtesy of The Friends of Fleam Dyke and the Roman Road

The surface is visible for a long stretch north from Worsted lodge and it’s still very well drained. Even on horribly wet days, there is little mud on the surface along that stretch and it’s easy to run or walk along there. South and east of the A11, the surface is less visible and you’re running along the ditch. In past, more violent times that ditch could have had bodies in it. I always feel queasy when I think about that.

Wandlebury Country Park contains a ring ditch. It’s about 900m in circumference and pleasantly up-and-down as you run round it. I don’t feel as odd running through that, which is strange. It’s an Iron Age thing and frankly, I think it’s full of of faeries when it’s not full of sweaty runners.

A good place for 900m reps.

Okay, maybe not faeries, or even fairies, but it’s certainly a fantastic place for runners. I am very aware of how long this feature has been in the landscape, of the thousands of people who have seen it, crossed it, been through it. The same is true for all sorts of places. Imagine the millions who have passed through Kings Cross Station, for example. As fond of Kings Cross as I am, I don’t find it very special. Wandlebury, the Roman Road, Fleam Dyke and Mutlow Hill are different. I don’t know why. They just are. Sometimes, you just have to accept that.

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Less Than Handy

I am a complete plonker. Everybody who knows me knows this. Most are kind enough not to mention it, at least in my presence. I’m a clumsy plonker at the best of times and during the winter things only get worse. I can guarantee falling over at least a couple of times when it gets slippery in spite of wearing grippy shoes and trying really hard not to. I usually fall over in full view of attractive women or men with a physical sense of humour.

I was supposed to be running the Folksworth 15 on Sunday. The race was canceled because the very sensible organisers thought that they would have lots of Richards on their hands had they gone ahead with it. Instead of flogging my sorry arse round fifteen miles of hills through wind and snow, I headed off with some mates for twelve gentle miles around the Gogs, the Roman Road and Wandlebury.

It was beautiful. There was snow on the ground and more falling as we set off. The car park was icy and treacherous but once we got onto the snowier surface of the dog park, it became much easier to move. The route Phil chose is one I know a bit since it uses the same trails as Alan B does for his 9 Miles of Hills. The surfaces on the trails were mostly snowy and grip was good in the Saucony Peregrine trail shoes I was wearing. Things were a little more difficult when we came off the Roman Road and headed down the road from Worsted Lodge towards Babraham. The tarmac surface was as icy as the car park had been,

I fell over. Of course I did. I fell over like I have dozens of times. I was jogging gently down a slippery part of the road and had just told Andrew to be careful around here when my legs were no longer where they should have been. When I was at school, I once had the chance to play a set of kettle drums. I liked the resonance when I beat the skin and held the side of the drum. Ever since then, I’ve thought of kettle drums when I fall over. There is a proper thump of stomach and lungs and bladder and bowels all the other cavities of the body when you go down in a oner. I didn’t notice putting my hand out but I must have done because my left middle finger wasn’t bending inside its glove. I gave Andrew – who was asking me if I was all right – a very crooked bird and said I probably wasn’t.

We’d been right at the back of the group and I tottered the rest of the way down the hill to meet up with the others who had crossed the main road. I showed off my very crooked bird, the sight of which was beginning to make me queasy. It wasn’t painful at that point but I thought it might become painful when the endorphins began to subside. I worked very gently from the knuckles and pulled the finger straight again. Some of the others wanted to head back with me to make sure I was okay but I didn’t want to spoil their run further so I set off on my own back up the side of the main Cambridge-Haverhill road. My hand felt funny from time to time but it wasn’t painful and I began to push the pace a bit. Because we’d been bimbling along and chatting my legs were fine in spite of having run five miles or so and I was able to push a bit back up the hill.

A&E at Addenbrookes dealt with me swiftly and competently. I was in and out of the hospital in less than an hour and a half and that included about half an hour of me wandering around a silent and empty, Sunday morning hospital. They checked out my finger, x-rayed it, spotted a teeny-tiny chip floating around in the joint, gave me advice about keeping it mobilised and icing it from time to time and sent me on my way.

I woke up during the night with pain in my wrist. I couldn’t move my hand much in the morning so I headed back to A&E. I explained what was going on and again I was seen very efficiently. I couldn’t have more x-rays immediately but I was given another assessment. I had a second round of x-rays which showed a chip from my triquetral. I may have damaged my scaphoid as well but it would require bone scans to be certain since the images from my x-rays aren’t clear. My wrist wasn’t hurting on Sunday morning which is why I didn’t mention it then.

I haven’t trained since then, not really. I had a kettlebells class booked for today which I couldn’t attend. I won’t be going for a while. To add slight insult to minor injury, the very nice cross-training gloves I ordered arrived this afternoon. I ran on a treadmill at Green’s this evening and it was horrible. I’d planned a 50 minute session but could no longer be arsed after five minutes. I stuck it out for a mile, the absolute minimum I could justify as a run for the purposes of Jantastic. I managed a few Russian Twists having assured myself that I could hold the medicine ball and some planks resting on my elbows and toes. I couldn’t do the rest of that workout because it all involves resting my weight on my hands – twisting planks and press-ups and all that torturous modern jazz.

I’ll be doing more running on that dreadmill, at least until the ice disappears. My joy is as palpable as dysentery. For the first time in my life, I really, really want the thaw to come. So come on, I’d like a nice calm westerly and mild weather for the rest of the winter. No more snow days. No more ice. Sorry, kids.

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