I snatched a piece of glory for myself on a long, slow, Sunday run by the coast. It was one of those very bright October mornings with the moon a finger-painted smudge in clear blue skies over the bobbing boats of Skerries harbour.
White sails dazzled in the clear, calm waters, as the members of Skerries Sailing Club busied themselves with their yachts.
And there were plenty of land lubbers about delighting in the crisp clear air or, like myself, taking pictures of the pretty scene…
…and silly shadow selfies…
Oh, I could feel my old enemy, Procrastination, setting in. It was time to go.
The Skerries-Balbriggan route is very popular with runners and walkers. No doubt, it’s spectacular views have a lot to do with that. And of course, hugging the sea as it does, it is entirely flat. Always a plus for a plodder like me.
The downside though is that the footpath is very narrow, and its surface is dangerously rough. Three miles in, loose gravel got the better of me. I stumble. Almost saved myself. Then, horror of horrors, slam onto the ground.
It’s the classic little-kid fall, featuring two grazed knees, two skint hands and lost pride. I hobble to a nearby gateway to assess the damage and recover my composure. And, apart from a hole in my leggings (damn, my last good pair) I am good to go.
As it turned out, this wasn’t the worst of my pathway woes…
I had to step off it several times to let pedestrians by, always, of course, with an eye out for a car careening round a bend. And, worse still, there is a patch just outside Skerries where the path runs out entirely. Possibly to encourage runners to up their tempo a tad.
It had that effect on me, anyway.
It would be really good to see this pathway widened and resurfaced. A lot of people enjoy it and, with a truckload of health problems festering in our overfed and depressed population, this investment would do the world of good for both Skerries, Balbriggan and their visitors.
But otherwise, the mild autumn temperatures and sea air made for perfect running conditions. And, even though I love to listen to talk radio during these long slow runs, I took frequent earphone breaks just to enjoy the sound of the sea and its accompanying birdlife.
Here and there I’d catch a glimpse of redshank, oystercatcher or snipe, while the gulls, announced their abundance with raucous cries.
Soon, I was heading into Balbriggan. A solitary red bricked chimney declared it’s industrial heritage. This was the ancient chimney of Smyths’ textile factory.
The town was built on tights, balbriggan being a term used to describe a fine knit textile which was once manufactured in that town and turned into hosiery and underwear.
Balbriggan hides its glories well. One of the joys of running, of course, is that it tends to sniff out these charms, and so brighten even the most tedious of trots with sparkling gems.
The harbour glistened in the morning light. After the hideous railway perimeter and ugly jumble of buildings, it seems all the more surprising. And, a little further along there is a Martello tower, yes, another one to match the ones I’d seen in Dalkey,Sandymount, Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinney and in Skerries itself.
Winding back through the town, there is the interesting court house building, and a beautiful Carnegie library opposite. But little else to delight the eye.
I was homeward bound at this point, however, looping back to Skerries and already looking forward to the return journey, trotting along between the railway line and the sea, and enjoying ever second of it.
I met more friendly runners on that route than any other I had encountered. I figured that was because they were as happy as I was, enjoying the scenery and the glorious autumn day.
Ten miles done. I barely felt them. Not, I hasten to add, because I am super fit, or even fit.
But, because some runs just are sheer joy.