Last week I'd a bit of a clear out. My wardrobes, cupboards and drawers have got so full I'm hanging things over the backs of chairs, dumping them in corners or up the sides of the stairs. More cupboards would solve the problem but neither Oxfam nor British Heart Foundation have yet come up with anything suitable. So I've been busy rooting out clothes and clobber that are surplus to requirements and putting them quietly to sleep.
Among items disposed of were between twenty and thirty race T-shirts many of which had hardly been worn. Most ot them were too big. In days gone by I guess race organisers were of the opinion that most of the entries would be from fun-running rugby players. Nowadays there is usually a box to tick on the entry form to indicate what size you require.
I've kept a few of the more meaningful ones. I don't normally train in T-shirts, preferring sleeveless vests with RUNNINGFOX emblazoned across the back, my internet name I try to live up to. However, today was an exception. From the remaining few I chose a shirt I'd been given at the 2005 Horbury 10K - where I'd also managed to wheedle a prize out of them even though there wasn't officially an MV70 category. They were agreed my 43.39 at 73 years old deserved it! This shirt is one of my favourites, (a) because it fits and (b) because of all the motivational words imprinted upon it. I needed all of them today.
With my Rt calf muscle still playing up I shouldn't really have run, but it was such a nice day I couldn't resist. The benign sky was almost cloudless, the temperature a cosy 70ºF and the gentlest of breezes barely moved the leaves on the trees. Skylarks were singing above the fields below Castle Hill. From the gorse bushes yellow hammers were singing for lunch - 'A little bit of bread and no cheeeeeese'. Tortoiseshell butterflies settled on stone walls and dried mud wallowing in the reflected heat. The stream through Mollicar wood had diminished to the merest trickle. Bluebells have long since faded away, but under the old oaks and beech trees was a wonderful sense of quietness and calm, like in a Church.
Beyond the wood the path is exceedingly steep, at least 1 in 4 for around 300m. At the very top is a seat where an elderly couple sat, soaking up the sun and watching my progress. Drat! I hate to be seen struggling so tried to keep a steady rhythm until it levelled off and passed behing some screening trees where I could ease off. I was knackered! Not to mention soaked in sweat.
A little farther along I passed a grey hair and bearded gentleman wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, running shoes and headband. If he was a runner he must have stopped for some reason when he saw me. I glanced back later, but he was only walking, slowly.
The light breeze became more of a wind as I ran over Castle Hill, strong enough for a traction kiter to be scurrying along at an enjoyable pace. I decided against my usual fast finish. Five miles of hilly X-country was quite enough for my gammy old leg today. Ah, if only this weather would last throughout the summer. Then I could really knacker myself up!