Lost In Translation

May the road rise up to meet you

I fixate on some crazy thoughts when I am out running. And, it seems, the tougher I find the run, the more fixated I get.

Let`s get a peek into my bird brain this morning:

I`m on a hillrun. I call it Endless Hill for a reason. It`s three miles of upwards drudgery.

The noonday sun is hot. Not hot hot. Just 24 degrees Celsius hot. But very hot if you`re a hen with lots of feathers and a pretty ample covering of subcutaneous fat and used to proper Irish summers with lots of rain and low temps. Cripes.

Half way up said hill and I`m hitting meltdown. I can feel myself beginning to pool into the melting tar.

I goad myself on-“Just to the next fence post” “C`mon, over to the oak tree“. But I can feel the road rising up to meet me and suddenly I recall the ceramic plate we had at home and it`s Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

And here’s a bit of Irish for you, if you want to impress your pals:

Go n-éirí an bother leat” Phonetically, that would be ” Guh niry on bow-her lat” .

It`s the first line of that Irish Blessing “May the road rise up to meet you”

Well, there I was, plodding up the molten and endless hill and, by golly, did I feel it was rising up to meet me. Overwhelmed by heat, exhaustion and unfitness, I felt it would surely engulf me.

“Go n-éirí an bother leat”   Indeed.

I stopped. For the first time on that hill, I seriously considered an about turn and swift descent. I gulped my bottle of water and considered my position. My feet were killing me. Right one, in particular. It`s the whole arch/flat foot/ligament thing that`s been a plague since the marathon. My back, thankfully, was fine.

But it was the heat that was making me particularly crabby.

That, and the Irish proverb.

May the road rise up to meet you.

Something was lost in translation there. Who needs a rising road? Don`t hills just make the journey tougher?

Revived after the water, I decided to plough on and consider the rising road. Having made the decision to keep on, I began to feel better. Maybe it was the water, or maybe even the Christy Turlington effect, but the rest of the trek-another mile maybe?-felt decidedly better.

Aha! I had finally stopped fighting the road and it was indeed, working in tandem with me, easing my journey, helping me along…rising up to meet me.

Literally translated, the proverb means “May the road rise up to meet you” but, of course, the rising is more the easing of your journey.

And this road also had another couple of tricks to ease the journey in the form of Stop signs.

Being a particularly obedient Red Hen when it suits me, I stopped, of course, at the Stop sign…


It helped that there were four of them in all. Another ease for my journey.

Six miles after I`d set out, my run was done. I am not sure what benefit it has on my physical well-being. I was as slow as a snail, after all.

But beating the urge to cut the run short certainly helped my mental toughness.

As for the Irish blessing…

I am grand with the road easing my journey.  I`ll have the wind on my back anyday. I`m happy if the rain is confined to the fields, while I`m on the road.

And the sun can shine all it likes as long as it`s not too hot.

If you`re heading out on the road today, for a run, or for any other reason,

“May the road rise up to meet you”

25 thoughts on “Lost In Translation

  1. Ah, thanks for explaining that first line. I’ve always had visions of being smacked in the face by the road. Three miles is some long hill – I was thinking the 1.8 miles Hell of the West in Connemara was long 🙂

  2. Pingback: Ah, Go On, Go On, Go On. | redhenrun

    • I did a hill repeat on that hill last year. That`s the really maddening part. Feel like I`ll never be that fit again. And that`s a possibility, of course. In which case this blog will have to devolve from being a sorta running blog into something entirely different. Oh well, time will tell… Thank you for your encouragement anyway. Much appreciated!

      • Ha… ha… ha… How right you are 🙂 My Great Great Grandmother Susan Kelleher, at the age of 18 and fleeing the effects of the “Famine”, arrived here in South Australia on one of the “Bride Ships”… full of single young Irish Girls coming firstly as servants and then to marry and make a new life for herself.
        I found you via Angela and “The Silver Voice” and although I don’t run, and can hardly walk 😉 , am enjoying your posts very much indeed.

      • Very interesting comment, Catherine. I didn`t know those ships were referred to as Bride Ships. I`ll learn a lot on your blog!

    • You know that hill theory is a complete disappointment in reality. Works well for cycling, sure. But, by gum, when I`m on the downward slope, I`m so wrecked from the upward trip, it still all seems like a huge effort. Wasn`t always like this. It`s just that I`ve got a whole lot worse 😦
      Thank you for your comments though! And your encouragement!

  3. I struggle with going through the red traffic lights during the marathon! As for the road rising to meet you, makes me think that I am about to nose dive in to it!
    Great perseverance hen

    • Oh my, but it`s a struggle, Shaz. Wish it could just be a tad easier. I`m hoping that those twenty second interval things pay off after four weeks. We`ll see.

      • After a lousy 9 miles that should have been 10 this am I up with you on the struggle! Am sure the intervals will help, I know the hill training and intervals I am doing at mo are helping and I guess not every run is going to be a good one is it? (Although I really wish it was!)

      • Well, obviously you`re up and I`m still in bed so maybe that has something to do with my sucky performance! 🙂 And you`re on holiday and working that hard! Good for you!

      • Mmm but maybe the 5:15 alarm had something to do with sucky performance. Now get out of bed RH, don’t you have eggs to cook?

  4. great post – heavens ! What makes you go on! Go n-éirí and bóthar leat I thought meant ” may the road rise WITH YOU’? If it rises with you, it would not matter if you were going up or downhill 🙂 . In any event 6 miles – well done!

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