In the odd hot evening of my West of Ireland childhood, the kitchen window is flung open and we children are mesmerized by the dance of moths about the kitchen light. Then suddenly the trumpalaín appears. Bumbling and ungainly on delicate wings, he hoves around the light like a Zepphelin. Naturally, one of my brothers succeeds in trapping him. Then, cusped between his hands, the trumpaláin struggles to escape. To squeals of delight, each of us takes our turn to hold the poor beetle, giggling uncontrollably at his frantic movements tickle our hands.
And that’s not the end of his misery.
Soon he is laid on his back. Big and black and heavy, all limbs flailing uselessly, he is pinioned by his weight to the floor. We watch his unhappy dance before tipping him to his feet again and follow his flight into the darkest corner before catching him once more and releasing him to the darkening skies, and his freedom.
Pinioned to my bed with the flu last week, I felt like that trumpaláin. The by now annual respiratory virus had taken hold and,beyond coughing painfully, I could scarcely move.
Sleep was all I thought about and, for two days, that was what I did. Running was out of the question. Indeed, by Sunday, after two weeks of zero mileage, I began to wonder would I ever get back on my feet again.
But Monday came and just as suddenly as it had taken grip, the virus shook me free. I popped on my runners and ran.
It seemed as though Spring had time her awakening with mine. The westerly sky blazed pink as the long low light lingered over the bay. The Moon and Jupiter watched from above, while gulls cried as they wheeled homeward.
I’d almost forgotten my opening ritual. Garmin:on. Phone armlet:on. Car: locked Keys:stowed. Cap:on.
I didn`t wonder if I could do it. Didn`t plot distance or speed. Didn`t think about races to come or training plans to follow. I just ran four miles, with just one brief stop along the way, it felt good.
The beach run was a little victory dance, celebrating the long dusk and moonlight that made the return to sand possible. The tide edged away leaving silver rivulets in its wake running down to the sea while all along the blackened horizon orange lights bobbed as trawlers made their way home. I watched it and kept running with no consciousness of struggle, just delight to be part of it all.
Between path and beach I ran four miles. But, like my trumpaláin pal, I was ungainly and slow:A human Zepphelin bumbling along the beach and all along the promenade. This wasn’t an evening for post run despondency, however. Injury, illness and life`s interruptions are part of a runner’s lot. What’s mattered more was getting out there again and savouring all those little joys that keep me running. And getting back on the track again, somehow, anyhow.
So, for now, I’m free again and bumbling along. Another four miles last night and more running delights ahead I hope.
Maybe a little imprisonment to helps us savour our days of freedom all the more.