Things to come

It is beautiful in Glasgow this morning. The sun has lit up the shoulder of Slack Dhu and Dumgoyne, and I can see the snow on the mountains around Loch Lomond. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve loved seeing various blog posts and photos from fellow Scottish runners hailing the return of the early morning light, and today was the first time I’ve not needed my headtorch on the morning dog walk. 

I’ll miss seeing groups of eyes staring back at me from behind the trees and the resulting scamper of deer running away, but oh the anticipation of the longer days to come, the evenings up in the hills and hopefully getting out on my bikes again.

Tomorrow, at last, is long run day. 

Weekends have been packed since the start of the year and there has not been any space for a decent run. Evenings have also gone by, not so much in a blur but in an awful rattling shrieking express train of stress, pressure, conflict and general unpleasantness. 

I’m just starting to build my running miles up again, carefully to allow for the worsened asthma and the constant lurgy that has been lurking and threatening to take hold since November. Somehow I have kept it in its place. 

Tomorrow I will be heading out on one of my favourite routes that takes me past some of my favourite haunts and never fails to lift my spirits. I’ll pull on favourite, familiar kit that has seen me through good days, bad days, long days, freezing cold, soaking wet days, baking hot sunny days. I’m not sure I’ll have enough oomph to drag myself up the distillery hill, but I shall give Glengoyne a wave on the way past with a nod to friends far away.

Spring isn’t quite with us just yet, but patches of snowdrops appeared a few weeks ago now, and while mine will sadly be trampled by eager greyhound paws, it has been wonderful to see them emerging on the coldest, darkest of days. Daffodil leaves are starting to poke through the soil too, and my road will soon be a flash of yellow as I come and go.

The training plan for the Great Glen is always at the back of my mind, as is the kit list for the Great Lakeland 3 Dayer. Both have given me something positive to focus on through these last awful weeks at work. I’m so excited about both, although apprehensive, nervous and more than a little bit scared. 

I entered a new race last night, which will take me to yet another bit of Scotland that I’ve never been to. This one has a deep personal connection as it’s where my parents met on teaching practice all those years ago.

Running has given me so much, particularly running here in Scotland. I’ve missed its regular and defining presence lately, and it’s so good to have it back again.

Some favourite running pictures…

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Fling relay 2014, Conic Hill. photo by Graeme Hewitson
Fling 2
Fling relay again, photo by Edinburgh Sports Photography
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easter saturday 2014, epic day on Rannoch Moor with ma wee pal
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Loch Katrine marathon 2015. photo by Fiona Rennie
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closing stages of Tiree Ultra 2015, a bit tired and windswept

Tea-soaked days of nothingness

I ran a very long way last weekend. I completed the Highland Fling, a 53 mile race along the southern section of the West Highland Way. To my surprise, I’ve recovered really well and my legs were feeling ready to run again on Wednesday.

I promised myself a good long break after it though.  After a lot of weekends and evenings spent either training or practising for my concert (6 weeks ago now!) or a combination of both, my time is my own again. A bank holiday weekend means an extra day to be savoured.

I’m trying to plot the next adventure, the next goal, the next Big thing. I’ve done a few Big things, particularly over the last year, and I know very well the slightly lost feelings that come  in the aftermath.

The desire, or even the need, the urge, to be pushing forward so continously can be quite destructive – putting too much in too soon leads to burnout and exasperation, and if not to over-training then to under-recovery.

But by nature, I’m quite lazy. I think most people would be surprised to hear me say that about myself, but the truth is, unless there’s something right ahead to work for, I can find it quite difficult to stay focused and not let my days off float away in a blur of tea and TV.

Recently though, I’ve been thinking maybe I need a bit of that. I guess it’s all about balance.

So I have designated today a most exceptionally lazy day. I have a stack of reading I’d like to do, some blog posts to write and a LOT of tea to drink.

Other than that, I think the most pressing question will be whether I really should have another piece of the crumbly sticky lemon cake I made yesterday.

spring

Winter came again last weekend. It was a shock to the system after a week of almost tropical sunshine.

But even snow, hail and sub-zero temperature two days before the start of May can’t dampen the feeling of spring, of newness, of joy, that I have in my heart at the moment. A couple of less-than-positive areas of my life are soon to come to an end, and there is real hope that what replaces them will lead me onwards to the next phase.

I’ve never struggled so much through the winter before, but this year things were very different. Since the middle of October I seemed to be ill or recovering from being ill. Christmas and New Year, normally times I love and enjoy, went past in a haze of cold remedies, antibiotics and steroids. Spring running plans were almost abandoned.

A concert provided a much-needed focus, and timed perfectly with the clocks changing. The weather was awful that morning and unloading my harp was a cold and rather soggy experience. Then at the start of the second half of the concert, I played a Beltane Dance to welcome the summer and by the end of the piece, the sun had come out.

As the days began to draw out at long last, I felt as though I was coming back to life.

I’ve had my first after work evening hill run of the year, feeling too warm on the steep climb up, watching the sun going down and then shivering a little once the light started to fade.

Gradually, my dogs are needing their winter coats less and less. I will moan about the impending moult when it comes, and wonder how two such skinny dogs can possibly lose so much fur.

Soon even weekend walks will need to be early in the morning or late at night. They are getting older and will find the heat even harder to deal with this summer.

A dear friend rang me last week, we had lost touch a little since the big move and it was good to hear from her.

She asked me about my new life, and I told her about the connection I now feel to the seasons and the effect it has on the environment here.

We talked about a few other things, and I was briefly taken back to when things were all so very wrong and it felt as though nothing would ever be right. She, perhaps more than anyone else, understands where I’ve come from, and why I had to leave everything behind. It was understandably a very emotional conversation.

And yet it was filled with positivity. We looked back, and looked forward and talked about all the changes that had happened in between. There are more to come, for her and for me.

This is one of my favourite times of year – knowing the days will continue to draw out, until it will still be light when the dogs are out for their last turnout before bed. 

This year, my summer is looking pretty empty, no big cycling adventures or long runs or trips away in the diary just yet.

I feel uneasy about this, and so it’s time to sit and dream, and wonder if, and wonder how, and plan, and arrange, and anticipate, and then it will be time to go.