Head Rambles in the Rain

Chestnut

Only a fool would have ventured out in Sunday morning’s conditions.

I was that fool.

Mind you,  it was warm. At least by Irish standards. The mid morning temperature was a very pleasant 12 degrees. That’s 53.6 degrees if you’re in Fahrenheitland.

We’re still in t-shirt weather then.

But the rain, that `tis-a-soft-day-thank-God`incessant Irish drizzle demanded a beanie(orange) and a long-sleeved running top(green). So, if you saw someone on Sunday who looked like she lost her way after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, that someone would have been me.

I did not see you, though.

I know this for a fact, because, for three whole miles I saw nobody. There wasn’t one other fool out braving the soft day. Nope. They were all as snug as bugs curled up on their sofas watching reruns of X-factor or chowing down on a big brunch.

The thought of them made me feel even more miserable.

It wasn’t until I reached the riverside that I finally encountered a humanoid. In fact, a whole family of them. These were no ordinary humanoids, however. The dad sported binoculars and was urging his young sons to look downriver. Evidently, he had spotted some exotic avian species.

And, to give them their due, the two young lads seemed only too happy to go along with their Dad’s directions.  So intent were they on their observations that they failed to spot my approach. They were entirely oblivious to the rain too, of course. Why, it seemed as though, for the males in the group at least, that this was, indeed, the most welcome of weathers. Maybe the drizzle attracted some rare bird to the place? Some Siberian sub-species who had the bad luck to be tossed up on these shores? Or a far-fetched feathered rarity from the outer reaches of Inner Mongolia, perhaps?

Only the mother looked miserable.  She was fussing over her daughter who lay in a buggy. Swathed as the buggy was, in a big plastic raincover, there was no danger of the little girl getting wet. But the mother reached in beneath the cover and took a blanket off, before readjusting it once more. And still she didn’t seem happy.

I could read her mind:

It’s not cold enough for multi layers and too damned wet to feel comfortable. And, anyway, why am I out here in such misery? And why, oh why, Lord, did I marry an ornithologist?

So, I wasn’t alone in my misery.

By now, the steady drizzle had developed into a full bodied monsoon.  Rain streamed down my face and my sodden leggings stuck like cling film to my thighs. My camera was stashed in my waist pack though I cursed my stupidity for not taking along a plastic bag to keep the water out of it.

Trotting on and whinging to myself, the sight of something truly hideous jolted me out of my misery: I had stepped over a dead rat.

Sure, the stepping over was the lucky part. I could’ve landed on the damn thing.

There he lay, all curled up claws and sharp snout…ugh!

Now I should’ve been brave and kicked the damn thing into the ditch.  For a few yards after I thought of the ornithologist’s family. What if the young boys were horrified at the sight? What if that suffering mother inadvertently drove the buggy over that ugly creature and then stepped on it herself? Would it mark the end of her riverbank ramblings? Or the end of her marriage, maybe?

A few yards further on, I consoled myself with the thoughts that children thrive on gore. The boys would get great news mileage out of that rat. They would spin yarns on the strength of that sighting to keep their classmates enthralled all Monday morning.

And, no doubt, the Ornithologist, once he took his sights off the river, would also want to be the hero of the day. He would be exactly the type that would shield his womenfolk from all sights of the rodent. He would stoop down, catch him by the tail and fling him aside. Thus,sparing their nerves and regaining his wife’s admiration in one fell swoop.

Of course, the only jangled nerves were truly mine. And the source of all my woes was neither the rat, nor the rain: it was all in my mind.

Or, as some anonymous expert stated a very long time ago “‘Tis all in the head.”

Much of running is.

But I was happier blaming the rain, of course. And as drizzle turned to rain and rain turned to deluge, I realised it was all hopeless. The bargained myself into pushing on for another mile, only by promising myself a prompt about turn as soon as I hit the four mile mark.

This cut short my planned long slow run by two miles. But, to be fair, it had already morphed into a medium fast wet run at that point anyway. Or so I convinced myself.

And in that eight mile stretch, there wasn’t another runner to be seen, nor another ornithologist, or even another drowned rat. Apart from myself.

And, wouldn’t you know it? The sun shone all afternoon.

Note to self: Check the rainfall radar on met.ie. Or better still, remember you’re living in Ireland. Where it rains. A lot. Get over it.

 

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M&M Run

It rained all day yesterday. All day.

One broad sweep of rain suddenly swept all of autumn’s colour into a monochrome gloom. And with it, my willingness to run.

If I skip a day’s running, I feel edgy. Two days, and I am casting myself back up on the heap of wannabe fitties. That place where I wallowed so long-and often quite happily. That place where I dreamt that one day-some day-I’d be able to run a mile non-stop.

Imagine. Non-stop.

If I miss three days, I can see the people from Michelin, galloping over the horizon, to fit new tyres to my thighs and waist. They’re good at their job, I’ll give them that.

So I had to run. Had to.

From the comfort of the Chook House I could see my car, sheets of rain bucketing down, fat drops glancing off the windshield before gathering for a brief second on the car roof and bonnet, then skittering down in little pools on the tarmac below.

But I had my luminous top on. I had a fleece. Relectors. My special rain-and-fashion resistant beanie. Full length leggings. My winter running gear. I was good to go.

Oh, but I hate rain.

It’s OK, I said whispering terms of encouragement to Reluctant Me. Just drive to the shop and pick up a couple of things. The rain is sure to be cleared up by the time you get out.

The couple of things turned out to be a litre of water and one hundred M&Ms. Or however many they keep in a pack. I should’ve counted them I suppose, instead of mindlessly chomping on them.

But mindless chomping seemed like a good place to go as the raindrops jigged and jagged their way along the windscreen, while I sat in the car, cosy and dry and, well, mindlessly chomping.

Two thousand calories later and I am still in the car, engrossed in DeValera’s biography,and waiting for the rain to clear. The threat of a Michelin delivery has been forgotten with a comforting combination of a sugar high and a great read.

Suddenly something catches my eye. Could it be a large luminous butterfly? There are so many chemicals in peanut M&Ms, I realised that it is perfectly possible that I am hallucinating.

Looking out into the neon lit darkness I catch sight of a man-no, a runner-flapping past in his luminous runner’s jacket. And he’s going fast. Oh, God.

Well dammit if he can do it so can I.

Garmin. Check. Earphones. Check. Reflectors on. Check.

In my rush, the remaining M&Ms scatter across the pages of DeValera’s Biography. That long gone and dour soldier of Ireland, our former leader, wanted comely maidens dancing at the cross roads.

Bet he never imagined that the comely maidens would morph into middle-aged women in skin-tight lycra chasing after luminous butterflies.

Catching the butterfly, of course, was never the goal. I was out there. And actually, I didn’t feel half bad. Maybe the M&M chemicals have an anaesthetizing effect. Or maybe my spare tyres were giving me wheels. Or maybe I was still hallucinating. And the rain…rain? It was more of a little drizzle really, that just as suddenly, as I hit the tar, dissipated.

For one glorious Narcissistic moment, I was Moses at the Red Sea, declaiming a great parting of the waters. That feeling lasted a whole mile. Long enough to get the sweat running so that when the rain did come back( I am not Moses, of course, and I don’t think I am that extraordinary. Not really.) I was glad of it.

Grand trot, all in all. Four miles. In keeping with some sort of training schedule.

Later, and I am sprawled guiltlessly on the sofa, reading Dev’s biography, and chomping on the last of the M&Ms, Teen Son walks into the room, glances at the M&M pack and, realising it’s empty snorts in disgust.

And your feet smell too, Mum.

Ouch! But, basking in the afterglow of M&M chemicals and endorphins, I smile anyway.

That’s because I am not just your mother son, I am an athlete.

Mmmmm,M&Ms are good.

Juneathon Ketchup

Juneathon Day 21:

A midsummer’s park run. Yep, did it. Didn’t cover myself in glory. But, as it was a new park run course for me, naturally, I got a PB!

And, since I hadn’t competed in a while, I also experienced the sensation of actual running. I’ve been indulging in far too much jogging/shuffling lately.

Juneathon Day 22

Sunday and it’s supposed to be Long Slow Run day. Unfortunately, that clashed with Long Slow Hot day. And, while I scoffed at those lazy strollers licking ice-cream, two miles in I was reaching melt-down point. By three miles, I had thrown in the towel. And bagged me a ninety nine too. Ninety-nine ice-cream, that is. Not miles.

Juneathon Day 23

I had to sweet talk myself into running today. Isn’t that ridiculous? The very thing I know is essential for my body and mind, the very thing that underpins all my zest for life and I’ve to go persuade myself-like a mother cajoling her wayward toddler to leave the toyshop-that yes, you have to go and no, it doesn’t matter about the speed or distance, just get your runners on and get out that door rightaway and stop your nonsense.

Of course I enjoyed it. Actually, I trotted along by the river and made a point of taking everything in.

Highpoints?

  • Fat lilies punching up through the still canal waters, fists of yellow petals on thick stems.
  • A Mama duck with her troupe of six ducklings. No Dada about. I’m guessing he’s holed up in the Duck Inn with a pint.
  • Another ‘new’ plant poking up among the reeds. It’s pinkish red and tall. Gotta get back there with my camera.

Lowpoints:

  • A couple(human) striding along by the river and not speaking. At all. I met them on the return trip and yes, same story: glowering faces.
  • The dumb dog on the dumb long lead with the dumb owner.
  • A man running towards me with no bra. No, it’s not an essential piece of kit for a guy. But it would have helped this fellow.

Juneathon Mileage:63.24 miles

Juneathon Day Seven: Riverbank Run

 

 

Iris

Yellow Flags

 

Juneathon Day Seven saw our dreadful internet service grind to a halt. I suppose you could say it reflected my run a lot in that I ground to a halt several times.

Still, I managed to push the distance at bit at 5.5 miles. And, for the first couple of miles at least, the speed. But the gods of technology were not on my side yesterday, as my Garmin somehow failed to record the run. So now I’ll never know just how super speedy I was on Day Seven. 🙂

My route took me down by the riverbank. Soon I was trotting along just listening to my thoughts and watching for the little wow moments that Nature throws up.

Of course, I love the irises right now. Yellow flags is another name we have for them here and one that suits them all the more. They stand stiff and tall along the riverbank, with the soft yellow petals catching the breeze, just as a flag would.

Pink Flower

Then, there’s this fellow. No, I don’t know what he is called but isn’t that pink and white against green combination oh, so pretty? I too lazy to search for the name though, so do share if you know. Hedwiga, are you out there?

 

 

Egret

Little Egret

 

Now, this fellow I do know. And maybe you do too. Apologies for the quality of the photo, but he’s a shy chap and, with my iphone,  that’s as good a shot as I will ever get.

His blindingly white feathers stand out against our grey skies and water. Mediterranean in , origin, to me, he is a reminder a warmer climes and endlessly sunny days so I am always thrilled by the sight of him.

And of course, he reminds me of all the changes we have seen in Ireland in recent times. I got to thinking a lot about that on my plod along the riverbank yesterday.  To my mind, they are mostly egret changes, blinding flashes of purity that startle us out of greyer times and even greyer thinking.

But all that’s for another blog post on another day.

Juneathon Day Seven: 5.5miles

Juneathon Total: 29 miles