Detour

I know you thought yesterday was Saturday but actually, you were wrong: it was Park Run Day.

Happy with my week’s training, and determined to take on Mr Parkrun Noob, I tucked into a light breakfast and then donned my armour: running shorts, my favourite running top, clean socks -yeah, clean is a bonus – and of course, runners.

With my secret weapon all set to be unleashed from my ipod(Shhhhhh! It’s the Black Eyed Peas album The Begining) I was good to go.

Now yesterday was wet. Unusually so. After a glorious July, it seemed like the whole month’s rain had been detained in some vast holding area in the skies only to be unceremoniously dumped on the entire park run population on Saturday morning. Rain skittered across my windscreen as I drove to the park run venue and then I saw it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9_warning_triangle

Source: autotrader.co.uk

Dang!

Beyond the sign lay a treacherous bend and, from the whirl of blue lights and flashing tail lights, I knew someone had come a cropper on the greasy roads. Thankful that it wasn’t me, nevertheless, I still had to make to the parkrun venue on time.

The Garda (yep, we call our policemen Gardaí) held up his hand and I rolled down the window. He eyed my running gear appreciatively. Or, more likely, the body beneath

He peered in through the window and, with shake of his head, said

“I’m sorry, there’s been an accident so all traffic has to be detoured via The Sticks”

“Is everyone okay?”

“Yes, it seems so but it’s always a shock, of course”

Swiftly forgetting the agony for the people ahead of me, I glanced at the clock and realised I wouldn’t make it. Not in time to run, at any rate.

By the time I got to The Sticks, my good form had reasserted itself. I needed to train harder anyway for park run. Last week’s I’d got out of my comfort zone and pushed for speed. I finally felt I was creeping back to that place I was in two year’s ago, pre marathon and pre injured feet. I felt strong again. I needed to build on that.

I pulled up at the park run venue in time to see the first runners arrive in. It’s always so interesting to watch such a variety of finishes, from the steady super fast athletes who manage to sustain the same blistering pace throughout, to the little kid who lops along easily and then makes a break at the sight of the word Finish. And then those who struggle just to make the distance and have that sheer determined look that says

“I’ll finish, even if it kills me”

I stayed in my running gear all morning, watching the skies for a break from water torture. And I got my golden hour.

Lopping along by the river, I kept an eye on the Garmin so I’d keep my pace in the 5.40 min/km range for the three miles out, quelling my whiny self to maintain a steady pace.

I allowed myself to relax a little on the way back in. As usual the rewards came in the form of nature’s surprises: the blue flash of a kingfisher whizzing by, the grey on grey of the heron lifting his ungainly body above the river, the brilliant yellow bill, tipped with orange that is the herring gull’s. All of these things lift my heart and remind me why I run.

So I missed the park run. But, instead, I bagged myself a run which had a happy combination of progress and pleasure.

Sometimes-maybe most times-life’s little detours can take us to better places.

 

 

 

 

The Bring Summer to Ireland Campaign

I am spearheading the Bring Summer to Ireland Campaign. This work has seen me tirelessly pounding the roads all winter. And it`s been a long winter.

To the onlooker, this ritual looks repetitive, tedious and difficult. It is. But I am fortunate enough to have inspired the entire country to have faith in the process.

Clad in our team colours of dayglo green, and black leggings we have spent several thousand hours each week dedicated to the cause. For, it is our earnest hope, that with each step, the collective vibrations of our stomping feet reach deep into the earth internal mechanism and shift Ireland further south.

And I am pleased to announce that it is indeed working.

Yesterday the entire nation woke to summer. Blue skies! Blue skies! tweeted the entire bird population.And, indeed, even the resident teenagers in the Chook House bounded out of bed early to head for the Great Outdoors. Since they generally shuffle about under the haze of open laptops and ipads, they were temporarily blinded by the full spectrum rays of the sun. But their eyes soon adjusted, and in true Irish fashion, winter clothing was abandoned, sunscreen eschewed as they went in search of melanoma.

I needed a celebratory run myself. So I headed for the river, the better to soak up the sights and sounds of the season.

Yay! Summer!

Yay! Summer!

Yes, it indeed seemed as if we had shifted Ireland about as far south as Cornwall in Britain. Unfortunately the scientific instrumentation available to to us in the BSTIC campaign merely measures the visual. But the sights, the sounds, the feel of the whole place was high summer in Cornwall.

I witnessed this…
Swans`nest

….Two of my better looking cousins suffering from heat exhaustion at high noon. No doubt, ongoing concern in regard to the impending hatching of several chicks accounts for some of their collapsed state. I know the feeling. But birds have been adapting since the begining of time. They`ll shed a few feathers to cope with the heat, rejoice in having drier bedding for their little ones, and just get on with it.

I ran my heart out down by the riverbank and took in all the other sights and sounds of Ireland`s summer. Trees, water and heat meant flies were in abundance. Swarms of them gathered to bask in the sunbeams and all along the river bank growth seems suddenly lush as Iris leaves poked heavenward with the rushes and lilies spread in equal abundance.

boat house

Evidence too that Ireland may indeed have witnessed a similar shift in the past. This is a boat house. Long fallen into rack and ruin, I discovered it as a ran along the canal section of my route. We, in the BSTIC pride ourselves in our imaginations. We couldn`t, after all, pound the dull rain sodden streets of Ireland if we didn`t hold in our minds`eyes visions of glory.

And can`t you imagine the above boathouse in days of yore? Maidens in white dresses trailing their hands in the canal waters, as fine young men in blazers and straw boaters rowed their boats along the canal? This look would be all wrong in persistent rain of course. The maidens wouldn`t stand for it and their men would have no peace. So perhaps Ireland was actually further south before.

These are the things I ponder as I pound the pavements for the good of my country. Others may be concerned about race times and personal bests, what`s for dinner or what cake they`ll bake for their offspring.

But not me. My mind is always on higher things and dreaming of the collective good.

And thus I ended yesterday`s run. Three and half miles, and crap time but hey, I`d a lot on my mind.

It was time to gather in the little chooks, camouflage their sunburn so the neighbours wouldn`t think I was a bad mum, and throw something resembling lunch in their way.

And then tell them the good news:

Summer in Ireland is set to run until Monday!

Success for my good pals in BSTIC but it looks like we`ll have to keep on running.

River Run

Hurrah! River runs are back! Although it`s still very cold and, with a fine Siberian easterly whipping all us poor Paddies to pieces, it`s dry and bright. Time to get back to one of my favourite routes: the riverbank.

I brought my camera along. There is always the chance of seeing something interesting, or just plain beautiful along by the river.

Horse Chestnut Buds

Horse Chestnut Buds

Although not the best photograph in the whole wide world, the sight of this horse chestnut bud thrilled me. I love the stickiness and size of these buds. I love the elegant way they`re upheld by the branches and how quickly they will unfurl into a multitude of light green palmate leaves. Their lanterns of white blossoms will add to their glory in May. And into those schoolboy delights in October~conkers. The horse chestnut never fails to delight.

Defence System from the 1940s

Defence System from the 1940s

These pillboxes are made of concrete and so, as ugly as all hell. But interestingly, they once formed part of Ireland`s defence system during the 1940s. Ireland, see, was neutral during World War 2. So, while the rest of ye might have been up to your necks in blitzes and battles, we had, what became known as The Emergency. Ah, yes, our classic tendency to understate everything. The Emergency, of course, lasted six years.As for the pill boxes, well, from what I`ve heard, a soldier would be stationed in each one. That little slit on the top of the box, afforded the watchful soldier a view of the river, lest an enemy of the nation swim or boat upstream and thus, infiltrate our fair land.

I was still running, of course, at that point. Only pausing to take pictures, for the benefit of you, dear reader. That, of course, had the added benefit of giving me a break at very regular intervals. And an incentive to cast my eye about the place. And so I spotted this….

Where do these steps lead?

Where do these steps lead?

Summer House in Ruins

Summer House in Ruins

This house was built for the family that resided in the Big House, two miles downriver. It was their summer residence. I figure, from the brickwork and from what remnants of style remain, that it was built in the later part of the 19th century. If you`re so inclined, look it up. It`s Glenmore House, Oldbridge. Drogheda. There`s quite a bit about it here. Which probably contradicts all I think I know about it. Oh, well….

Have to say, I`m a big fan of ruins. Took a peek inside and snapped this….

Basement

Basement

… and this…

Faving West

Facing West

I can`t help but imagine what life was like for the former residents of these houses, and their retinue of staff.

But, dreaming done, I had to make my way back down river, and quickly. The sun was sinking fast. And anyway, I needed to focus on actually running

I took off like a bullet. Past the steps. and the pillboxes, and the buds and the river.OK, a slow bullet. But much quicker than my photorun two miles.

By the time I`d returned to my car I`d run four miles in all. Garmin says my last two miles hit below 9.30 minutes per mile. Ok, not Speedy Gonzales. More Lazy Red Hen. But I`ll take it anyway. My speed is on the up.

And so is my mood: river runs are back!

River Run

Boyne Dec 30th

 

Does running along the beach or river bank have extra health benefits? Wouldn`t be surprised if it did. I`m happy in either place. But I particularly like my riverside runs. Love the dirt trail underfoot, love the many moods of the tidal river, love that it`s generally quiet. Love that it takes me right into the heart of the town through the squalls of seagulls and teeming traffic. Then I get to loop back again into the quiet of country life.

That`s where I was this morning. Its becoming my Sunday routine. Six miles of undiluted pleasure. Talk radio is usually quite entertaining at this time too, so I`ll generally throw on the headphones and alternate between listening to the weird ways of the world, while enjoying the scene around me.

The photo I snapped today doesn`t do it justice. But there`ll be improvements on that one in 2013 as I`ll certainly have lots of opportunities to capture better shots.Maybe even as soon as next week. Because it is, I am told, the start of Janathon Hadn`t known about janathon until lost jogger pointed it out.Yes, I desperately need the extra motivation. After three run free days, my thighs were screaming at me this afternoon. Evidently, the river run had reawakened some dormant muscles. A sure sign of a slacker.

The Janathon participants are expected to exercise and blog about it every day. A nice challenge, that. I need to get my bike out, as cycling to work is definitely on the agenda in 2013. And I also need to improve my swimming to cover another New Year`s Resolution. But running will be king. So I`m aiming to run five times a week, with three swims and one cycle.

Yes, I get very ambitious about my exercise regime when I`m sitting on my tod!

But anyway, I`m happy enough with today. It`s got the week off to a good start.