Thursday, 27 September 2012

"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" , Troly- Curtin

Well ... that worked up a sweat & another 10.39 miles for the week :-) Since we’ve had all this crazy rain today & thunder & lightening earlier, I thought I’d be prepared. I went out on my run all geared up with my OMM on again. It turned out to be the calm after the storm (or before the next). There was a nice breeze. It started off drizzly but drizzled to nothing. Ultimately I ended up feeling pretty hot and sweaty and ended up stripping off the jacket, always fun in the dark when your headphone wires are tangled all over the place. It’s part of the challenge…

And the weather has really been mental today. There’s been lots of lightning. I love storms. Obviously I don’t like running in them (though they certainly make you run faster, like cows…not that you could logically outrun either, but you somehow convince yourself that this is possible and not some illogical crazy runner logic. By the way, cows can run, fast…), but I love watching a good storm and fork lightening. It’s one of nature’s best shows. Then again I’d also like to witness a tornado one day, not for their destructiveness, but for the sheer power, wonder and natural phenomena of it all. And because I cannot comprehend it. It’s interesting to face things that you cannot comprehend. But anyway, yep, the storm had passed – I kind of wish it had passed earlier, since I couldn’t get into Liverpool for Starbucks catch-up with my friend because of flooding on the tracks and serious disruption/ cancellations on Merseyrail trains :(

Sooo weird...

So, I was out for my run. I bumped into two lovely runners I know & had a nice natter and continued on my way. I was thinking that tonight would be an 8 mile night at the most, so I was happy to get a bit more mileage in than I had hoped for. Big developments tonight were that the slugs were back! They were massive. The mysterious ‘floating in thin air’ spider webs were also back in force, probably because it has stopped raining. And there were lots of gnats about again. The trees weren’t dancing as much tonight and I couldn’t see any dodgy hanging branches, so that was good. Lots of puddles about, but that’s the fun bit. Oooh, I nearly forgot that I saw a rabbit. I got really close to it too. In fact, I thought it might be injured because it just stood there and didn’t seem phased by my presence at all. I don’t know, I got squeaked at the other night, I see foxes and get chased by cows and now I don’t frighten rabbits; I’m like Liz Doolittle…

The ‘occupy Auto lift’ hippies that have been camped out on the hilly road outside Auto lift for the last month or so were gone! I was shocked because I was so used to seeing them and their camp. I’m not even sure why or what they were doing there for so long. I’m sure it all made perfect sense to them.

Running up the hill felt much easier today. It’s all a matter of breathing and again, trying not to make it look like I’m struggling too much up the predictably strugglesome’ hill in front of a bunch of glaring motorists.

The song that got me through the last little stretch tonight was a bit of Wheatus and ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. Yes, I know. I have all sorts on my mp3 player. I like to change it up. Last night my power song was ‘Megalomaniac’ by Incubus. A bit of cheese here, a bit of indie, a power ballad or two, some rock and you’re good to go.

By the way, excuse me for the blog writing craziness this week. I’m on a roll; both with writing and running. I guess being ‘in between jobs’ there are only so many jobs you can look and apply for & this way I can occupy my mind. Although, I fear my mind is being too occupied. I haven’t slept earlier than 3am all week. Last night was the worst and I slept for only 3 hours. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t. So, what do I do when I can’t sleep? I seek out interesting snippets of information, usually philosophical to read. But then I end up thinking far too much about what I just read, so rather than trashy, mindless reading, my mind goes ‘Whoah, I thought/ felt/ that happened to me once.’ With my mind gripped by thoughts of insomnia I decided to have a little read around that very topic. Some good snippets of wisdom that struck me were:

"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world." - Leonard Cohen} this struck a chord with me, largely the second bit. Whenever I’m running an ultra & you get onto the night bit, I can’t help but feel a sense of ‘superiority to the sleeping world.’ You’re on an adventure and they’re not. Sure, they might be having nice dreams, but you’re out there actually living yours. And seeing things and experiencing stuff. See, even when I just cannot sleep and I read something not even directly related, I automatically relate it to running in some way.


"Every morning I think: What’s the latest I can sleep in ‘til, and still be on time for work? Well, I used to think that, before unemployment turned every day into a Saturday. " - Jarod Kintz } This one is more self explanatory and made me feel more miserable, but he writes quite quirky stuff, so I’ll let the author off ;-) It made me think I have too much time on my hands, and yet so much to do with it, but only so much that can be done…and I feel lonely *sigh*

"All I want is to sleep--to dream. Life is better in dreams." - Christina Westover} and this one kind of contradicts my feelings of superiority about experiencing more than the sleeping dreamer, whilst crazily running through the night. Sometimes life is better in your dreams. Unless you hallucinate (like some long ultras will give you), then your mind tries to entertain your waking self with bizarre creatures and mad imagery; both entertaining & frightening & maybe funnier than dreaming…

Post -run mugshot of the day...

I just had a thought; If I can’t sleep tonight (which I’m currently not doing because it is gone 2am and I am still wide awake), what will be my reading topic of choice?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” - Dr. Seuss

I guess I was going to begin by saying how great it felt to be out there in the rain tonight. It did. I felt relaxed & I had a nice run. But as I sit here I feel profoundly down all of a sudden. Isn’t life strange? I need to be more social. I spend far too much of the day alone. Alone is good if you don’t feel lonely, but the loneliness is creeping in, so I’m feeling the need for social interaction.

Another nice 10ish miles was run tonight, on a bright note. It was absolutely torrential rain out and there and it was lovely. I had fun dodging puddles. There weren’t so many slugs or snails out tonight. They were obviously overwhelmed by the crazy amount of rain and puddles. Lots of leaves everywhere.  The branches were still hanging around. In fact, there were some really dodgy branches out there tonight. They made me run at fun angles and faster. I was convinced the really big one that has been hanging around for a few weeks now was going to fall. All was ok.

It's a bit rainy out there....

I saw & had a little chat with a lovely runner friend out running tonight as well. She was the only other runner I saw out there. We both had our OMM jackets on. They truly are the best in the rain.

Things that made me jump tonight had nothing to do with weird shrubbery or spider shaped branches. Something made me jump and laugh. Some creature squeaked at me. It was a really cute squeak. It sounded like one of those dog toys, but it was definitely an animal. I was running past the garden of a small farm, so it was probably just a mouse or something. It was really funny. It put a big smile on my face. Then with two miles left to go something growled at me. I cannot determine what it was. I was running past a dark grassy verge where people often walk their dogs. It scared the life out of me, because I thought ‘Uh ohh, DOG!’ Retrospectively I think it was actually someone revving up an engine from one of those houses beyond the verge. It definitely made me fun faster!

Running mugshot of the day ....

Philosophical ponderings of the day: “As soon as we notice that certain types of event "like" to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the attitude of the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a "science" of meaningful coincidences. The classical Chinese texts did not ask what causes what, but rather what "likes" to occur with what.”  M.L. von Franz

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” - Plato

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Steve Jobs

You are an explorer. Your mission is to document and observe the world around you as if you’ve never seen it before. Take notes. Collect things you find on your travels. Document your findings. Notice patterns. Copy. Trace. Focus on one thing at a time. Record what you are drawn to.

Ponderings and observations on today’s run.


On today’s run I noticed (well, I always notice it lately) the precariously hanging branch that is suspended right above my head whenever I run past a particular patch of trees. It has been pretty stormy/ rainy/ windy here over the last few days and every time I run past I am surprised that it is still just hanging there, biding its time. It is quite a big branch. I do hope it continues to hang around and doesn’t fall down whilst I am actually running underneath of it. This is actually quite a big fear of mine. Not with regards to this particular branch (it isn’t that evil), just any precarious shrubbery. Being hit by falling branches, wacked in the face by leaves and branch, falling acorns, large tufts of grass upon the moors and narrow pathways lined with stinging nettles are all very valid obstacles of the plant variety that runners face. 

On my run today I explored. A little. I dodged a lot of snails. This is odd because during a run last week I dodged (funnily enough, my spell check just put that I ‘judged’ the slugs…maybe I am) a lot of slugs and now snails. What determines whether or not there are more snails than slugs out there and vice versa? One thing is that snails are ‘prettier’ than slugs. And there is more crunching if you fail to avoid them. You’re not simply destroying the creature…you’re wrecking a home! It is a much tougher game than ‘Sludge’ (slug dodge). Not only are you stepping on them, but there is both visual impact and sound effects. It is more traumatic all around.  So on today’s run as well as properly philosophising about shrubbery, I also spared some in depth thoughts for snails and slugs and slimy creatures. Runners are thoughtful.

Running up a particular road and a particular long hill on my route I tried my best to keep a steely look of determination upon my face. It is an excellent test of willpower. You can’t stop. It is quite a busy road and your inner voice screams ‘NO, you cannot stop up here, you have to keep on going, they expect you to stop because it’s such a strange hill that seems to drag on…even bus’s and some cars (my little banger) struggle up this hill, you HAVE TO keep running!’ And so you do.  And I notice my arms swinging much more ferociously as I get to the mid-point and my heart is beating much faster than before. I’m pushing out strange breaths and my lips are making an ‘O’ shape…I imagine. But I get to the house at the top and I can’t help but grin. Like some manic crazy mad woman I am stood there in the dark, in the drizzle, alone and grinning. Smiling to myself. And to the hill. In this moment I am pretty satisfied with myself. 

I’ve dragged myself out for the second night on the run to run up the hill I have avoided running up for quite some while and now I’m on a little streak. And it’s a really great feeling. I stop for a moment and turn around and know that I now get the best feeling. I get to leggit down the hill. This type of running is like being a small child and just going with it. I’m not sure with what. But you just go with this feeling you have at that particular moment and you’re free to run full pelt down a hill, in the dark. It’s your own little adventure. You dodge fallen twigs and little stones and there’s no-one else about. Sure I was running in a place surrounded by countryside, but I was far from the most idyllic place in the world. It is a big road. It is countrified, but it is still a road. And yet, it’s a really good run.

I didn’t collect anything I found on my travels. Well, a daddy long legs flew in the house when I got back home. Did I collect him? Maybe he just needs a place to camp out for a while away from the wind and rain. I did think about pulling down the overhanging dodgy branch, but I probably wouldn’t have brought it home. It was massive. I don’t know what it is about branches and trees today. I also made myself laugh whilst simultaneously scaring myself (I jumped) as I skipped over a weird spider-shaped (yes, really) rogue branch/ plant/ thing. I laughed because I realised it was way too big to ever be a spider; unless bird eating spiders have moved to Britain. Also, it was without doubt on second glance, a plant related obstacle. Silly me.

A useful thing I learnt tonight and something that someone has told me before is that I like to run whilst holding onto things in my hands. When I completed the Brathay 10 marathons in 10 days challenge I nearly always held a banana or a bottle of water or a buff in one or both of my hands during my run. I got to thinking: Is it a comfort thing or a practical thing? I actually think it helps me position my arms better and run better. Tonight I had a fleecy buff in one hand, as well as my mp3 player in the same hand; my nose kept running, invisible spider webs kept getting in my eyes and I needed something to wipe both away. Music wise, I have an annoying habit of sticking my mp3 on shuffle and then skipping pretty much all of the tracks that come on, before settling on a truly motivational tune that’ll get me running at my best. Maybe I should change my music, but I kind of like it the way it is. I mix it up. 

Anyway, in my other hand I had my torch. My hands were both clenched and I don’t know, it seems to make my lower arm muscle more taut and angular to the elbow and I just end up swinging my arms ‘better’; more efficiently. Thinking about it even more, I seem to straighten my posture and look ahead more, rather than down (I have really bad posture and slouch a lot…long body) and my running feels smoother. See, the simplest of actions can provide revolutionary thoughts and answers. Well, it was quite insightful to me anyway. 

Today I was drawn to the simple things. It is easy to overlook the simple things. In fact, sometimes all the massive crazy things that happen in the world and in our lives demand that we neglect thoughts surrounding the simple things. Every now and again it is refreshing to think about the simple things; about the snails and the gravely sandy bit on the bridge over the canal; upon which I dramatically fell over once on a run and ended up with very bloody knees.  It is relaxing to let your guard down and just ‘go with it’. It is liberating to look a complete mess and like I have been dragged through a wet hedge backwards and still come out smiling. It is ok to smile to myself out in public along a long dark road. It is fun to dodge puddles. It is fun to splash into puddles. It is amazing to be out in the cold biting air and to see all the nice cosy warm cars driving past and be certain that you would never want to switch places with them at that moment in time (okay, on the Grand Union Canal ultra I did want to snuggle up on a nice warm barge…there was crazy torrential rain & I was wearing a bin bag & I had about 90 miles left to run and they look so cosy).

So there we go. That was today.  I rediscovered the simple things. I also rediscovered my mega padded, furry hooded winter coat. Not for running in. That’d be interesting. But it is snugly. Hey, it’s even okay to write random bloggage that won’t make too much sense to others. Just exploring.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

You are an explorer.

I’ve had some really good runs this week. I’ve really been getting my running mojo back. I’ve gone out for a run and smiled for no reason and had those moments where you just feel happy and contented to be doing what you’re doing, to be running, to be out there.  It all sounds a bit mystical, but there is this overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment sometimes when you’re just running along and feel relaxed. Just for a few short moments you can just feel so serene and nothing much else matters. It is great when nothing much else matters except for the 'there and then', the here and now.

Every run I’ve done this week has been in the dark out of choice. I love running in the darkness and getting my head torch out down country lanes. Sure, it can be a bit creepy but it feels like more of an adventure.  I do take a head torch with me in my jacket pocket and a mobile phone though just to be on the safe side. Certainly, this week I’ve had a lot of down moments, a lot, but in the good moments where I’ve been running and running well, I’ve felt happy and been thankful that I have that outlet and that will never change.

Last night I went out for a nice 5 miler. I saw a fox, really close up! The fox I met was a bit too chilled out, was stood only a few metres away, looked at me and just stood there and then took a few steps closer. It was nice to have met, but considering my encounters with cows and some dogs, I decided to run off in the other direction :)

This week I’ve also applied for more jobs, looked at jobs (it’s a job looking) and options. I’ve also been way too philosophical this week. It’s a strength of mine that I do take the time to think and a downfall that I think far too much about things in general at times. It can drive you a bit crazy when you’ve got too much time on your hands to think. It’s been quite lonely. I can be alone, but I like people. I need more social interaction from like-minded people. Otherwise I think I will just drive myself crazy…if I’m not a little already haha

Anyway, just a few thoughts... I seem to be full of them this week.

Later on in the day (Mini update):

I went out for another really awesome run & it was just really brilliant; just what I needed. It was a fantastic fantastically wet & rainy 10.46 miles & there was a big hill thrown in there (I used to run it all the time, but I haven't in ages, with no good reason but laziness I guess). It was just really darn good :-) and I got fantastically soaked, wooo! So fantastic really is the buzz word for that little meander