Monday 4 June 2012

The key to a good run can often be luck

Yesterday, I set out for a nice, easy 20 mile run.  I'd selected my route from the list of go-to routes (i.e. no map reading, close by, minimal planning required) and gone for a fairly flat affair.  With only 2-3 big hills, and lots of rolling stuff, I was looking forward to a nice, steady pace for 3-4 hours.  The fact that the weather was filthy only added to the fun - a little soft mud underfoot is always nice.  Some days, however, a nice route doesn't necessarily make for a nice run.

As I ran through Snowshill, one of the most beautiful villages around, it was sad to see people setting up tables and flags for the afternoon's Jubilee street party.  Rainwater was streaming off the tables like they were forming some kind of water slide.  Then, as I got to the top of my first hill, I found out just how much of an impact last week's sunshine had made.  The grass was knee-to-thigh high along the path, and very wet indeed.  I was taking in so much water every time I lifted a foot that my shoes began a lovely squelchy tune.  For about a mile, I was shipping more water than I could squeeze out with each step - lovely.

Once I was back out of the long grass, I began to wonder if I was losing my mind - I kept hearing voices from the trees.  Nothing clear, just the occasional human voice, with no other sign of life.  It was windy, and the sheep were making a racket, but I was pretty sure that my brain wasn't creating a voice from these ambient noises.  Eventually, I ran along a ridge with a clear view to the other side of a valley to see some sort of large event going on - obviously something with a PA system.  It was hard to see what was going on, because they were as shrouded in the low cloud as I was.  So, no evidence there that I'm losing the plot!

I happily carried on in the knowledge that I'm not losing my marbles into a field of bullocks.  Those who know me will be aware that I'm not that keen on cattle.  They're large, a little too curious, and somewhat unpredictable.  So, with reassuring words to the youngsters that I was only passing through, I carefully walked through their pasture.  Normally, I get a few stares and am left alone.  The boys were a bit bored, I guess, and decided to gather round.  It was a little disconcerting at first, as they formed a semi-circle and closed in to within a few feet.  I stopped and stood completely still, in the hopes that they would lose interest and wander off.  But, no, they decided to come a bit closer - not the response I was after!  With a little gentle hand waving, they backed away enough for me to try the slow walk again.  A couple kept very close quarters, but eventually they let me go.  Given the potential for young males of any species to be curious, energetic, and a bit thick in the head, I wasn't sure where the situation would go.  Any tips on how best to keep bullocks at a distance are most welcome.  Luckily, the next herd a few miles later was more interested in eating than they were in me.  I think I'll give that route a miss for a few weeks!

By the time I was done with the low-speed cattle driving, I was starting to get cold (yes, in June).  From there, the rest of the run was about keeping warm (hat, gloves, etc.) and keeping going.  Village after village had soggy street party decorations that looked a bit like I was beginning to feel - worse for wear.  After 15 miles, I decided to call it a day and give in to the dreary weather. So, I cut a couple of miles off and headed back to Snowshill by road.  On the up side, my new route took me through the lavender farm.  The smell of the new buds in the rain lifted my mood and I jogged happily back to the car.  Funny how the vagaries of the route can so easily alter the state of a tired and unfocussed mind!

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