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

Four miles

I had some really good news last week. 

Finally there is an end in sight to the ridiculous work situation that has been going on for the last few months. 

I was away in Liverpool for a gig over the weekend and as I looked in the mirror while I was getting ready, I actually didn’t recognise myself. 

I’ve not been able to run due to long hours at work and some really bad asthma days. My skin looks dreadful and I’ve got the spots and redness that I always get when I’m worrying too much. I’ve put on a little bit more weight than I’m comfortable with and my food habits have slid towards the junky end of the spectrum. 

This is everything I’d worked so hard to leave behind when I moved to Scotland, and so it has been incredibly upsetting to find myself back in this awful environment of fear and pressure.

Knowing the end is in sight helps enormously. Last weekend’s gig was a cracker. It came at the perfect time and it reminded me that there are many other ways to live your life. 

Staying with a friend from a few years ago kind of put me back in touch with myself – the self that stays hidden most of the time these days (and is the Flourish referred to in my blog title) but comes out when there’s some performing to be done on my terms. 

Liverpool is a really special city for me, it holds very strong and very happy childhood memories of a couple of day trips with an aunt who isn’t with us any more. More recently, it took care of my uncle during his chemotherapy. He described seeing the Isle of Man ferry being loaded up with bikes for the TT and wishing he was sailing away, and now I can’t look at pictures of the Liverpool waterfront without thinking of him and how relieved I am that he survived.

We drove around the city afterwards, through the docks, past all my friends favourite haunts and our next gig space. I love driving round cities at night, there’s an energy around the empty streets and motorways that really excites me. It’s much more fun on a motorbike than in my old Audi estate, but sharing it with F made it all the more special. 

I drove home on Sunday feeling revitalised and ready to get through the last few weeks of work.

Wednesday night brought me a little further back to myself. It was freezing cold, well below zero, icy underfoot. I ran four miles along a route I do regularly, a flat unspectacular trot along an old railway path. My headtorch batteries were badly needing a charge, so given the slippy conditions that I couldn’t quite see, I decided to come back along the main road instead. 

I noticed the patterns on the pavements as I reached the centre of the village. 

It’s a very small but subtle difference between living where I live now and where I lived before, and it seems a little strange but it’s one of my favourite things about living here. 

The pavements get gritted in the winter.

Sometimes I’m woken by a faint whirring sound outside accompanied by flashing yellow lights through my window. The first time I heard it I got out of bed to look, and there was a little white vehicle crawling along the pavements. 

I find pavemeng gritters strangely comforting, and when I see them they remind me of all the little things I love about being here, and all the things that are so minor on the face of it and yet mean so very much. 
I should be clocking 30-40 mile training weeks by now, but I know these will come when life is on a more even keel. The extra weight (that really isn’t much but is noticeable to me, and affects my asthma) will soon come off and I really don’t need to worry. 

It’s amazing what a little chilly slow run can do.