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.



As we plunge towards winter, I take some compensation from the light of these autumn days.  The window of daylight is short at this latitude, so my workday runs are done in the glare of streetlights. Only my weekend runs can give me my fix of daylight and the great outdoors.

Last Sunday was one of those crisp, dry autumn days. My route-a familiar one-took me past ploughed fields and hedgerows, down to the canal and on by the river. After a week of rain, the going was too muddy for my liking but I kept an eye out for some autumn colour. Shades of russet, scarlet and yellow always gladden my heart.

The week`s heavy rain, however, had stopped the colour play of the leaves. From deepest green, it seems as though they`re set to run straight to brown. Drier days are needed for them to sport their full palette of autumn colours.

That said, the light was still a joy. Hanging ever lower and more distant in the horizon, the sun rendered everything in a softer, more painterly light. Stepping through the woods, was like running through a watercolour painting. But it was a painting without a frame, a whole visual experience within a softly coloured sphere, from the pale blue sky, past the greens and browns of trees, down to the deeper muddier colours underfoot.

I ploughed on. My eye was drawn by the sudden turn of a cormorant`s head in the canal. He cut a v of ripples as he swims on, frantically scouting the river bank and the waters below with sudden jerks of his head. Then, sufficiently frightened by my plodding feet, he suddenly rises from the murky water and takes flight.

An interloper this far inland, he looks almost supernatural with his large, black ungainly body and silent, steady flight.

He reminds me that this is the season of the púca, where mists and long shadows and darker days conspire to conjure up the ghouls and ghosts from their graves.

Misty autumn light to lends itself perfectly to ghostly imaginings and makes fertile ground for the tellers of tales. Darkness and cold brings a deep sense of foreboding to many of us anyway, as ancestral quests to survive through the harshest of winters are lodged deep in our DNA. We are ever watchful, fearful, and willing to believe the worst.

Who knows what lurks in the misty haze of these autumn days? What spirits are rising from the ground in the long dark shadows? What ghouls will take over if the sun falls of the edge of our earth never to return?

We are foundering between the richness of harvest time and the impoverishment of winter, of darker nights overcoming the brightness of the day. We are in the twilight zone between the bright heavens and the murky underworld.

Our Celtic ancestors saw this well and celebrated Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) at this time of the year. They knew that fairies abounded now, and that souls were free to visit their living relatives. They lit bonfires and, in later centuries, set candles in gouged out turnips left on windowsills, lighting the way for ancestral spirits.

Running through the woods, I can feel all of the ancient magic that invoked those ancestral spirits. Autumn can come in more subtle hues, than the fiery reds that I seek. But  subtle colour changes, soft mist and dull light add a magic of their own.

Púca=Irish word for ghost



Fun, Light, Colour

Some little pieces of prettiness that I encountered on my Sunday run. Catching glimpses of deepening hues warms my heart and brings an added element of joy to my run.

I tossed in some variety into the run itself too, and decided on a whim to run intervals. I have no idea what my landspeed record is. Never occurred to me to check before though I`ve a distinct feeling that I`m a tad shy of Roger Bannister`s four minute mile.

Funny thing is, just as Roger-and runners of his time-were scared of literally bursting their hearts in the attempt- I realised that I have similar fears. Fear of injuring myself in some way, fear of having a heart attack on the spot.

And it`s there the similarity with Bannister ends. Or with any other average Joe Bloggs runner, for that matter.

The truth is, I am not a gifted runner. Just an ordinary old plodder who likes to shuffle along in the hopes of making my heart, body and mind a lot stronger.

But I am still curious about my limits

Flipping through my Runkeeper App afterwards, I realised that I can run at 6.06 min per mile. Albeit, for just .10 of a mile… And I also managed, .40 of a mile at a 7.37 min per mile rate.

Now, if only I could string a few quarter miles together at that speed for a couple of miles, I`d be making real progress towards speeding up.

I need to time myself for one mile-or maybe even just one kilometre. And use it as a baseline against which to measure any progress.

There`s other things I could do, of course. Like drop weight. One kg weight loss can knock off one minute from a runner`s ten kilometre race. Sounds like too much effort to me though.

I could also attend to my core body work, or join a running group, or maybe even just push myself that little bit more when I`m out there. And maybe I will.

I`m enjoying what I`m at right now. Love the parkruns, love the variety of routes I have, love making new discoveries about what I can do and wondering about what might be possible.

That`s all that matters. That, and getting out there into the autumn mist and light. That, and having fun.

Seasonal Adjustments

Autumn Leaves

Busy week in the Chook House. Though not on the running front.

Oh, I tried.Sunday 6 miles Monday: intervals on the beach. Wednesday: 3 fast miles. Thursday: 4 miles. Not so bad then. But not as much as I needed.

But, as the Man says (And yes, I`m paraphrasing here.) There`ll be weeks like this.

New work projects are kicking in. Then, there`s the readjustment of the Teens to school and college(yep, one has flown). Another readjustment needed to all our extra curricular activities.

Much though I love cramming those long winter nights up with more fun, it takes a little time to get used to a different timetable.

Even the runs themselves required little adjustments this week. From a fantastically warm summer(this is Ireland remember: the mercury hits 20 degrees celsius we call it a heatwave) we`ve dipped to single figures this week and are happy to see the red bar hover around twelve degrees. Time to pull the thermals and the long sleeves out.

I also had to reinvest in a cap. Minimalist that I struggle to be, I only had the one. Realised before last Saturday`s parkrun that I`d abandoned it on a training run that week. Oh, I hate to litter. So I went back to my best guess of where it would be but nope, it wasn`t there. Guess someone hates my litter even more than me.

Now, my cap is dual function: disguise and rainwear. Couldn`t be without. So, a quick trot to the sports`shop and I`ve a nice dry head again.Well, a dry head anyway.

Garmin 405-no, not my one. This one`s working.

Garmin 405

Haven`t been quite so luck on the Garmin front though. My Garmin 405 is completely frozen on the “Drag your finger clockwise on the bezel” screen.

Oh, I`ve tried everything, apart from flinging it at the wall. Yep, did the run the battery down trick, the `hold down both buttons for ten seconds trick` I checked youtube, fixya, garmin and countless other sites.

Ah, the good old days, when all gitches were resolved with a thump

Ah, the good old days, when all glitches were resolved with a thump

Modern technology often has me longing for the good old days. Domestic technological issues back then were swiftly resolved with a kick (washing machine) or a thump (TV).

Anyway, no joy with the Garmin. I`ve two options now-fling it at the wall or fling it in the post with $79.

Yes, a bit of a Hobson`s choice, then.

Meanwhile the day job has brought on some new projects. I love the buzz of a new project. I`m on a high for the duration.

Unfortunately, it turns me into a bit of a duracell bunny on speed. Long after my body has flaked out, my little old birdbrain is  hopping all over the place. I`ve had three 4 am wake up calls this week. That`s three times of tossing over the week`s events and plotting forward action on all fronts. Only to be shattered by mid morning from lack of sleep.

At times like this, I need running more than ever. I`ve cancelled my trot up to the park run this morning, in favour of a little sleep in and a five mile run closer to home Then I`m starting the week off tomorrow a longer slower run. I know if I get more mileage in on a Sunday, the rest of my running week tends to go better.

And I`m joining Paige Sato in cutting out the crap. Duracell bunnies thrive on mindless munching and I`m guiltier than most. Chocolate, and cheese are getting the boot.Paige also recommend the ap My Fitness Pal. So I`ll give it a try too.

Wouldn`t mind having Paige`s talent at knitting and balancing a very busy life. But I can`t be brilliant at everything now, can I?

Autumn. Hmmmm. I`ve mixed feelings about it. Love all that colour. Love all the new things it pegs into my routine. Hate the long evenings. Hate the long dark wet evenings even more. But hey, gotta keep moving and just make those seasonal adjustments.


Photo Credits


TV:  Photo by gothopotam via Flickr CC