In the general scheme of things, that’s a naughty title, I admit. Let me explain.
We’ve been under the kosh of late in the station. Low crewing levels due to illness have meant that even mundane things like going for a run have been tedious to arrange, and oft-times, simply not possible. It’s total and absolute bollocks, needless to say, but I won’t be writing my ‘tell-all’ memoirs just yet!
So, this morning, the clouds parted. Both metaphorically and literally. My Station Officer got in touch to say I could have the morning off, so I laced up my runners and headed out, with no specific plan as to where to go, other than NOT where I normally go. Because of late, I have been wearing that path very thin indeed.
Before I set off, I reset the watch units to miles. This is not really a big deal, but I have been running in kilometres since I start wearing one, and have got used to the various landmarks on my usual routes where it will beep at me when each k has passed. And I changed the pace to miles too. This is all psychological spoofery, as I train not only my legs but my brain for the Connemara 100. I reckon I can physically train the body for the distance; what needs a tweak under the bonnet is the mind. I find with any long distance endurance event, you really need to conquer (or at least understand) the situation you are about to subject yourself too before you ever set off.
I did start with the Park, but that wouldn’t be unusual. Then on through to the Clonee Road and the Royal Canal towpath. Here the landscape at the southern end of the Moor of Meath is flat and exposed, and the cold wind gave me a reminder that two thin running tops might have been a brave and foolhardy choice. Nothing for it but to run on, and generate some heat.
Along beside me, some of the larger birds of this environment where out and about, impervious to the cold: Mallard Ducks, Mute Swans, and a Grey Heron.
My favourite gnarly beech is still making strange gurning faces at me as I pass, and the Grey Heron flinched but did not fly as I did a little drive-by shooting with my camera phone. Not the best pic, but if I had slowed to a walk, he would have taken off in his steady, lumbering way, such is their love/hate relationship with people.
Further on, near the train station at Louisa Bridge, two Magpies where making use of the large puddles created by the recent heavy rains, and poor repair work. As I soldiered towards them, they finished their ablutions and flapped away. Even in the colder months, when the buds are still tucked away in their beds, there is something to see along the canal. Mind you, this pleasant thought was brought to a sudden halt as I rounded the bend and there was a high fence across the path. The works to ‘improve’ the towpath are continuing, and they have reached Leixlip. Needless to say, I don’t agree with these plans, as they essentially strip the canal and its towpath of what makes them so alluring in the first place. Yes, they are a man-made piece of industrial heritage, but trying to turn them into ‘blueways’ just destroys everything good about them. The ‘path’ that will be be built will be expensive to install and maintain, and will require much of the grass and wild verges to be removed. Trees too will be sacrificed, and the nett result will be an anodyne trail where everything looks the same.
I doubled-back, and took a few quick pics of Louisa Bridge.
These bridges represent some of the best in mid-to-late 18thC stonemasonry. They are not ornate, per-se, but they are functional and built to last. They too are increasingly under pressure as they are not fit for the modern world of vehicle traffic. And this particular bridge has been abused more than most. Most of these bridges over canals have names, and many carry beautifully-carved plaques, detailing their name and date of construction. This one has several, and the one facing west (shown above) has been obscured by a large pipe. The one on the road has been partially buried by tarmac, as repeated layers of road ‘improvements’ have seen the road surface rise considerably over the decades. It’s a poor way to treat your heritage.
So, I retraced my steps back to the Park, and then added a little more distance in the trails by the river. All told, just under 10.5 miles by the time I got home. My Garmin page is still showing all the stats in metric, so I think I’ll just leave it. These are, by any measure, luxury problems.
But as regards the big race in August… the training has officially started. My written plan (cadged online from http://www.erunningguide.com/running100-mile-ultramarathon-training-program-for-first-timers) doesn’t begin ’til the end of the month. But we start now.