Tuesday 28 April 2015

Ah well, I can still dream......

My physio (aka The Magician) has told me to rest, the implication being no more running until my offending Achilles tendon is completely pain-free. So what better to do than put my feet up, close my eyes and daydream of running barefoot along this beautiful shell sand beach on the island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, lulled by the gentle sush of the sea on a braw summer day....
Luskentyre    (Click to enlarge)
Some June Day
We will drive there some June day
To the furthest place west where the shell sand
Stretches in white miles till it turns to sky.
You'll take off your shoes and splash the shallows,
Joy in the flickering of fish, the dance of crabs;
You'll take my hand and tell me we should run
Fast as we can, fast till we lose our breath. And I
Will run with you, will laugh too, because of this -
The summer and the blue, the sudden lightness of
   the world
Upon our shoulders. Slowly we'll come back, still out
   of breath,
Drive towards evening to the village for wine and
   shellfish - 
Soft salty lips of the Atlantic -
As a huge orange moon
Peels piece by piece across the sea.
                                        Kenneth Steven 

And an appropriate piece of music; 'Wave after Wave' sung by Joanne Hogg from the album 'Open Sky' by Iona.
       - Music in every sound
         Light beyond each cloud
         Hope in every dream......

Saturday 18 April 2015

Woe is me.....

.....for I've been and gone and done it - again.  Friday was such a beautiful morning, dawning crisp and clear, I couldn't resist the temptation to go for a run.  I should have known better for even as I came downstairs a slight twinge in my Rt Achilles indicated things weren't as they should be. Maybe it will go off when I run, I foolishly thought to myself over a cup of coffee. At 6.05am I locked the door and was greeted by a blazing sunrise as I stepped into the lane. Out came the camera for the first unscheduled interruption. A couple hundred yards along the road and I was in some discomfort so turned into the cricket field to decide what to do. Well, take another photograph for starters, looking across to my house which I'd never before seen silhouetted against a sunrise. It had to be recorded.
 I'd never seen my house at sunrise before, not in 37 years! (Click to enlarge)
 I limped back onto the main road and instead of doing the sensible thing, like turning left to walk back home, turned right and jogged towards Castle Hill. The pain, in my Achilles just above the heel, was bearable if it didn't get worse. But I wasn't running smoothly. My Lt leg was doing most of the work whilst the Rt was being half dragged along. On reaching the summit I made an effort to run normally while passing one of the regular dog walkers but ran a different circuit to avoid seeimg her again when I could no longer keep up the pretence. After 4 miles I'd had enough. The pain was much worse than when I'd set off.
Hum, which one shall I read?
After breakfast I set off to walk two miles into town for some necessary shopping but my offending tendon had other ideas and would only allow me to hobble as far as the nearest bus stop.  So it looks like I'm being forced to rest, which doesn't go down very well at all. There's nothing worse than a runner who can't run! Besides, I'll have nothing to blog about. Ah well, I'll just have to hope it's sunny enough during the day to lie in the garden and soak up some healing ultra-violet, then bury my nose in a good running book at night.
Now, there's another problem, which of the many books?
Or I can sit and watch the birds.....
Lastly, as most people know, I love music, but in most cases the words or tune must have been rolling around in my mind for quite some time before it's real meaning starts to register. This morning I heard one that my brain resonated with from the word go - even though I don't understand the words.  A Facebook friend, Julia Chi Taylor, uses it as an alarm to get her out of bed in the morning. I'd be more inclined to lie awake enraptured by it, then happily fall asleep again. Click here to listen to the beautiful Gayatri Mantra, and enjoy.. 

Monday 13 April 2015

Gone quietus.....

A rare glance at my biorhythm chart today told me I've been on this planet for an astounding 30,280 days. It prompted me to work out another couple of facts, i.e. how many of those days have I actually been able to call myself a runner, and how many miles have I run since I began in April/86?  The answers were equally astounding; 10,590 days and 37,828 miles - an average of 3.57 miles per day. For 29 years.  Someone recently asked "What would be your number one tip or piece of advice to give to a new runner?" I answered in just one word - Consistency.
The above figures should prove my point.
Where skylarks sing, by the sparkling dam at Cupola Corner
Somehow, last Saturday, I managed to pick up a niggling little ankle injury as I ran back over Bycliffe Hill during an eight mile run. So I've been limping a bit. And moaning a lot. Sunday was an appalling day weatherwise, so I may not have run in that stuff anyway, and today I'd to attend the funeral of a close neighbour - Iwan (John) Sinicki, a grand old man who, in spite of living through a disrupted childhood, then the horrors of a war-torn Poland, lived to the ripe old age of 93.
I hadn't intended limping along to the cemetery for the committal, after a service in Almondbury Methodist Church, but finished up following the procession a quarter of a mile or so to the grave side, and was glad I did. It was a warm Spring day. The sun shone bountifully and during the 'dust to dust', as flowers were strewn into his open grave, a song thrush sang and a blackbird briefly joined in too, adding a touch of sweetness to the dark suited solemnity.
I'd like to think they miss him too.
Now that John has departed only nine people remain in our little block of houses below Castle Hill, and I'm now promoted to eldest - which is a little worrying. Might be time to start writing a few notes to spice up my Eulogy.....

Friday 10 April 2015

A very Happy Easter......

Easter didn't really begin until the day of resurrection. On Maundy Thursday I'd been prescribed yet another nasty concoction of anti-biotics, peppermint oil, Loperamide and lactulose for my troublesome nether regions, so for three days the farthest I moved was the 20m or so from my rocking chair to the loo, at a speed dependent upon the urgency of the event. All very boring.
Grimwith reservoir......
The Easter morning communion service, followed by a pint of strong Italian coffee, seemed to recharge my batteries for an hour or two. Come 11am I was donning appropriate running gear for a wild 9 mile run by rocks, heather and bog to suss out yet another of my wonderful partner's planned walking routes to slot into her U3A schedule later this year.
Dodging the treacherous sphagnum swamps across Wolfrey Moss
 The first two miles, although uphill, were relatively easy, following a rough Land Rover track from Grimwith reservoir, over Appletreewick Moor, past purpose built shooting butts to the boggy heights beyond. From there on running was somewhat stop/start as we zig-zagged through treacherous sphagnum moss swamps, clambered over rocks and fought our way through knee-high heather to the crag at Great Wolfrey.
Climbing and bouldering at Great Wolfrey......(Click to enlarge)
 On past visits to this crag we've never encountered another living soul, so were somewhat surprised to hear voices as we approached. Half a dozen climbers were honing their skills on a vertical wall, or bouldering on a lesser crag with a huge safety mat spread out below. Most were somewhat uncommunicative but a more social one invited us to 'come and have a go'. We politely declined!
Leaving Wolfrey our next problem was how to cross the rocky moorland stream that cascades down Gate Up Gill. We tried several places but the rocks were either too slimy or too far apart. In the end we opted to reach the other side by a sort of hanging barrier that swung about a bit but was quite good fun.
Looking for a way over Gate Up Gill......
 During a bite to eat below the shooting hut at Bullfront Moss we decided to abort the crossing of Goody Stones Moss and Sleet Moor to retrace our steps across the swinging barrier to follow Gate Up Gill down to Grimwith where we'd left the car. It shortened our route by 1½ miles. It wasn't that we were tired but because my next dose of medication was due at 2pm and I had to get home in time for that.  Running the full 9 miles would have taken us over the limit.
The solution, a swinging barrier......(Click to Enlarge)
 A 'keek, keek, keek' alerted us to a pair of peregrines mobbing a buzzard by a gaunt old building lower down the ghyll where we suspected the peregrines were nesting. It was a joy to watch them scything the air on swept back wings. Crossing the dam at Grimwith I'd found myself a little way ahead of my wonderful partner and in spite of my internal problems still managed to break forth into song ('Power of Love') in the beautiful surroundings.
Running along Tinker Lane on a misty Monday morning......
Easter Monday dawned grey and misty. My nether regions were playing up again so I opted for a wild run on my own where there was little chance of meeting any holiday hikers to witness impromptu loo stops! Thankfully there weren't any - loo stops or hikers - as I relaxed into an easy lope along Tinker Lane where brief flashes of sunlight through the mist transformed farm buildings into oil paintings. Dropping into Hebden Ghyll the mist suddenly cleared and I felt the sun's power on exposed bits of my anatomy as I ran for home under a vivid blue sky.
High Garnshaw farm - an oil painting in the mist on Tinker Lane......
 Every Easter Monday Hebden Methodist Church put on catering in the Village Institute to raise funds for chapel maintenance. We went along for lunch and were treated to some of the most delicious spicy vegetable soup we'd ever tasted.  It was more of a stew, very nutritious, and just what we needed to replenish calories we'd burnt off on our individual runs. Thankyou Margaret. The carrot cake was very good too. All of it!
Big Booth -  Alasdair in relaxed mood.....
 Tuesday marked a rare visit from Alasdair, my eldest son, he of the Adonis body who weighs exactly half as much again as his marathon running dad. With his eagle eyes he'd come to help us locate the illusive ring ouzels, once common throughout Hebden Ghyll. So common, in fact, that a book was written about them by an ornithologist called Ian Appleyard who for many years spent lonely vigils recording and photographing their nests and activities.
Pewit's nest by Grimwith reservoir......
 Such is my son's incredible eyesight that we'd barely left the house before he spotted a wren's nest neatly woven into a clump of flowers hanging from a wall. In ten miles of walking we sighted a total of 38 different species which, lest I forget, are listed here:
Wheatear, meadow pipit, dunnock, Wren, grey wagtail, pied wagtail, curlew, lapwing, buzzard, skylark, golden plover, house sparrow, robin, chaffinch, mallard, redpoll, greylag geese, Canada geese, redshank, ringed plover, oystercatcher, teal, wigeon, jackdaw, song thrush, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, blackbird, reed bunting, greenfinch, wood pigeon, pheasant, red legged partridge, black headed gulls, starlings, red grouse. Last of all, joy of joys, we managed to find a solitary ring ouzel in a rocky area of the ghyll where they've previously been known to nest. It flew away and though we hung around for a while, it didn't return. But we'd watched it long enough to get a clear view of it's white gorget that distinguishes the species. So thanks Alasdair, without your help we wouldn't have seen a quarter of the birds you found for us, especially the ouzel. You can come again....
Early morning light at Castle Hill......
 On Wednesday I returned to my town residence where, unusually for me, I spent most of the day resting and completing my course of anti-biotics.  On Thursday I awoke at 5.45am raring to go. The Easter activities must have done me good for I reached Castle Hill in quick time - quicker than a group of runners from 'Total Fitness' who were being shouted at by their instructor who'd ridden up on a bike!  I was on another of my so-called progression runs, each of the five miles faster than the previous one. For a recovering patient it didn't go too badly with a 12.02, 11.28, 9.42, 9.39 and a nice 8.40 to finish. I was happy with that. It rounded off our Easter activities very nicely. Roll on May Bank.