Autumn Run

Horse Chestnuts

Horse Chestnuts

Ah! Autumn. As if Saturday’s sudden dip in temperatures and onslaught of rain were not signs enough of the changing seasons, I spied these chestnuts on my Sunday run.

Note the rainwater dripping off them. The rain showed no sign of abating all morning. I am convinced that there’s an intelligence in those clouds and of a rather malevolent sort: they knew I had a run to do.

Do I get extra points for running in the rain? Well, I decided for myself  that I can, at the very least, exchange a long slow run for a quick challenging one when persistent rain is at play.

And so, on Sunday, I took on Killer HillL two and half miles of steady ascent. Don’t they say the higher up one climbs above sea level the colder it gets? Despite my running efforts, it was pretty chilly and a whole lot wetter by the time I got to the top. My thoughts were with Unsportywoman and her Point to Pinnacle challenge way down there in Tasmania. Ouch!

Of course,my hill run was a toddle in the park compared to her that.

Though Sunday is a peak day for running, there wasn’t another runner in sight for the duration of my trot. A sure sign that I am nuts.

But there was water everywhere. Gurgling down gullies, dripping off leaves, lodging into roadside puddles all about me.

And, of course I was soaked through. Having experimented with various rain jackets in the past I have found none that satisfied my need to be waterproof and cool. So I opt for being wet and cool instead.

Luckily, I had my sun visor on. It’s nifty sun shielding peak doubles acts as a roof gutter, as it were, in the rain. So my upper view is framed with it’s sturdy rim drip, drip, dripping in a merry little stream but at least, keeping the blasted stuff off my face.

The other bit of good news is that when the rain hits, I get instant oomphh in my legs. I don’t want to hang out there any longer than necessary so everything is done at a consistent gallop. No stopping to take any pics for my faithful follower, no admiring the hills in the mist. Just get it done.

The horse chestnut tree? I took that photo at the very end of my run. Just at that point where I was wet enough to be screaming for home, but too damned warm to bear the stuffiness of the car for the trip home.

And, wouldn’t you know it, just as I am heading for home the sun cracked through the cloud banks. I rushed back out again to bask in the warmth of Ardgillen’s walled garden and delight in some autumnal joys.

And maybe pass that on here to my faithful follower’s heart.


Killer Park Run

Yes indeed, the photos here tell of a place of great beauty. There are delights at every turn. But Ardgillen Park, Skerries has its shadow side.

And that shadow side comes in the form of a killer park run.

Yes, I trooped up there today, all thrilled with myself. I had a game plan, see. I would start off fast, then put the brakes on and keep a steady pace before letting all hell break loose for a killer finish.

But something wasn’t right from the very beginning. Everyone looked alarmingly young, lean limbed and athletic.

And then there was me.

And as we set off on the course it soon became clear why youth and limbs and athleticism were essential for this course. Hills. Lots of. Doing their undulating thing all over the place. The kind of hills that were vicious to ascend but barely registered on the descent.

Not for the first time I realised what goes up must come down is just a vicious lie. What goes up, goes up forever and may only go down ever so gently.

By the second kilometre I was in trouble. All about me the young things were loping past. Some even had enough wind for light-hearted conversation with each other.

Meanwhile, I was in deep conversation with myself.

Get Real Me wanted to quit but Aspiring Runner Me wasn’t so sure.

Get Real Me: C`mon. Pull out before the end. Then you won’t actually register with a lousy time.

Runner Me: Well, maybe I won’t get a lousy time. And, anyway, since this is my first run here, it will at least be a PB.

Get Real Me: There’s another runner flying past. C’mon, quit while you’re not ahead.

Runner Me: If I quit I’m going to feel an awful lot worse for an awful lot longer than what I am feeling now.

In the end up, it was exactly that thought that kept me going. Somehow, I had to get through this and, if it was pushing me out of my comfort zone-and it most certainly was-that would be a good long term investment.

I thought I knew Ardgillen pretty well, but the route took me to places I hadn’t been before. And not just in my head. So I had no sense of where the end was as I shuffled along at the end of the string of runners.

At one point I was beginning to feel a little hopeful. Suddenly, I could see the finish line and I realised I was only a little behind some of the faster runners. But then a steward rerouted me to Lap Two. And while the young ones were racing towards their sub 24 minute finish times, I had to do another loop-one the faster runners had already done- with the few stragglers that were left. It was a sickening moment.

But, eventually, I got to the end. Didn’t even bother with the sprint finish. I was just glad to be done with those hills.

Time? Don’t even ask.

But I did score a PB for this particular Parkrun.

Will I be back? Oh, I have to bite this bullet again. But it won’t be next week and, while I can’t reverse the clock and get my young legs back, it will be a grand challenge just to do better next time.

Compensation? I rediscovered the wonders of the park afterwards, with a most enjoyable photowalk through all of its beautiful gardens.

Almost beautiful enough to forgive it for its killer park run.

Autumn Blooms at Ardgillen

My running week went exactly as planned. In other words, I had a nice long rest from it all.

It worked out well too coinciding, as it did, with a major week at work and a full blown headcold. I needed the break on some front.

I did put the head out a couple of times, though. And one of those trips was to Ardgillen park. Teen Girl, gasp, asked to go running with me and Ardgillen fitted the bill. With all it`s colour and wonderful views, it`s a lovely place to run. Teen Girl wouldn`t stretch too far beyond a two mile trot, but that was fine with me too.

After the run, I headed back down to take a few pictures of the place. I was very impressed by the sight of all those flowers in bloom as I hadn`t expected to see quite so many at this time of the year.

But, as you can tell from the captions, gardening isn`t my forte. There are so many plants that I failed to identify. And no, don`t be impressed by those I have captioned correctly. I photographed any plant identity tabs I`d found in advance of snapping the related plant.

If you can identify any of the unlabelled ones, I`d really appreciate it. I`ve numbered them in the hope that it would make your task a little easier.

It`s inspired me to dig up a new shrub bed at the Chook House and maybe have some similar colour on display next autumn. But I`ll need to know what I`m looking for first,if I am ever to find it.

Here`s hoping I find my fitness again this week too. as I hit the road again.