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Today, I Have Been Mostly... by Rob_Barber


 Always hated running! For some strange reason though, ever since watching that very first London Marthon in 1981, I've kept on watching,&nb...

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Started: 3 Sep 2010

Last post: 16 Oct 2014

  • Catching The Worm.


    Oct16201411:14 p.m.

    It was a very rude awakening at half past four this morning. A sharp elbow in the back from a wife who, it turned out, was in the middle of a pretty funny dream. Her dog agility and show jumping had all got very muddled up, she had a saddle on the Jack Russell and couldn’t get over the jumps on a horse so small Laughing.

    Two choices when you’ve woken up at that time of morning, lay in bed and try to get back to sleep, or get up and get going. One will leave you feeling tired and miserable for the rest of the day. The other will see you ready for bed a little earlier than normal when the evening rolls around.

    “It must take a lot of motivation to get up and go running at that time of morning” said one of the lads in work.

    “Not at all…” I replied “...if anything, it’s the easier thing to do.”

    Our hill is not the biggest in the world by any means, but it is high enough that when the cloud drops low, it comes down more or less to the level of our roof top. I emerged out into the world and found myself beneath a lid of such low cloud. Ahead of me nothing but grey, which curiously in the blackness of night is still most definitely grey. Looking down the driveway and the slope of the hill I could see the lights of the houses, and the half a moon which had peered through the grey was lighting the fields well, and all was looking rather fine, sparkling with the wetness of a rain shower just cleared.

    I don’t often get out running in the early mornings. I wake with a stiffness in my Achilles tendons that takes so long to work loose, I simply haven’t time. Now there’s the added impingement imposed by other injuries too. I set off walking, slightly cold and with no clear idea of which way I wanted to come back up the hill.

    A mile or so later as I started to gently run, my mind was with those people who manage to run speedy sessions in a morning. I tilt my hat to their abilities, to the strength their bodies must possess in order to be able to do that, and I wonder if it hadn’t been for the crashes I was in when I was younger, whether I ever would have been able to be one of them?

    I’ve set the auto lap on the Garmin to beep at me every mile. I’ll have a rough idea of the time this way. When all is said and done, I cannot be late for work. As the end of the first mile approaches (I know this, I have run this way many times) my temperature has risen more than I can bear. I ditch my top layer and tie it round my waist.

    The gaps between the beeps feel long. Thoughts drift toward marathons, and I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly looking forward to the long winter of training ahead. Stumbling around in the dark like this will be great marathon training Smile. No choice in the dark but to go slowly, which is great, for that right there is where that solid base of aerobic fitness will be built Smile.

    IBS is something I have learnt to control. It is another reason I don’t run often in the early morning. Coffee is a severe irritant, but I have learned to use this to my advantage. Cup of coffee; wait 15 – 20 minutes; do what needs to be done; go running. Safe in the knowledge that I will be untroubled by the dreaded “runner’s trots”. Only when I have broken from this routine have I had problems. This early, I have strayed from what I know works best. I was trying to be kind and not wake everybody up. It is less than 3 miles before the cramps start to kick in.

    Cockerels crowing on the edge of the village set my mind off thinking about artificial light. These poor birds haven’t a chance of knowing when the dawn is really here, I bet they’re up calling out all night. The poor neighbours too. What a life Frown!

    Bwlch-y-Groes remains most troubling of all my thoughts about Snowdonia. I have picked a route which once again will take me up the biggest available climb on our hill. As the gradient increases, so too does the pain my lower abdomen now feels. Muscles that should be holding my posture true are now working hard to try to get a grip of the inner body’s smooth muscle, over which I have no voluntary control. My mind is occupied with thoughts of Snowdonia, of Snowdon itself, of fell running, of how best to train next year and the difference between hills and mountains.

    The angle shallows, and the pain increases again, then it steepens, and up goes the pain another notch. It is not a pain I can escape. It is like someone cranking the handles on a cider press, my intestines are the apple, and about to burst. I so want to stop, to dive into a field and let go, but I don’t, this is pain training… brain training even. I might not remember the specific pain on Bwlch-y-Groes, but I will remember, whatever the pain, I can handle it. For now, I dare not even fart! A simple relief that all of us runners occasionally enjoy, whether we admit to it or not Laughing. I drag myself upwards, for an easy run its getting really, really hard. The steeper parts of the hill crank harder and harder on the handles of that cider press, the apple is squashed out of shape and the skin is oozing! The hill does not beat me.

    As I emerge from the cover of the trees, the same trees where once I clattered into an owl, I hear the dogs at the farm. They’ve not bitten me yet, but I know they would, I have seen how they work at herding the cows, they are nippers, the pair of them. I silence my breathing and run as stealthily as I can. I figure if the only noise I make is my shoes on the road, they might not recognise me as human and possibly leave me alone. It works, they remain in the yard and I slip by unnoticed. Up one final little slope, and it is here that I claim my reward Cool, it is here that it all becomes so very much worthwhile Smile.

    All of a sudden my world is the filling in a most extraordinary and delectable sandwich. The cloud has risen, and the subtle blues of the dawn’s first light now occupy the space where it once was, the moonlight is giving whiteness to the layer of cloud, and below me, all that I can see is shrouded beneath a blanket of pure white cotton wool. All that I can see stretches from the valley of the river Alyn, across Cheshire to Beeston Castle and the sandstone ridge, right across the Wirral, and all the way across Liverpool and over to Lancashire’s grand hills. Hundreds of square miles of white.

    Three patches of orange glow eerily amidst the fog. There are villages below but from up here it doesn’t look like that. From here, I have a close up view of an image taken from space. From here, it is an extravagant special effect from a Hollywood blockbuster themed around alien invasion. From here, it is utterly captivating and fills my head and heart and soul with joySmile .

    This is why I’m happy people Smile! This is what I love about running Smile! Remember, if it hadn’t been for running I’d have stayed in bed, I’d have not properly got back to sleep and I’d have been as tired and grumpy as everybody else Laughing! Were it not for running, I never would have seen this, and this moment simply would not be. Realbuzzers will understand this. Non-runners will find it a little more difficult to comprehend.

    My gaze is really taken with these haunting patches of orange. I pick up the detail in the scene, and I can even see the way the air is moving around these places. Strange little eddy currents let some of the orange light out, it escapes upwards, but wisps of mist reclaim it, so above the sea of white grow orange mushrooms, standing proud like a morning’s fungi rising from the grasses of a neatly trimmed lawn. It is a magical scene.

    I’d heard the “battery low” warning on the Garmin a couple of times, and when it did its final beep, its dying swan, I stopped running, started walking, and I appreciated what a beautiful world it really is in which we live. We’re just too blind, or perhaps it is simply too busy, to see it sometimes.

    Stats for the run?

    Come on, really? If anyone is thinking about stats right now, then I’m afraid you’re really missing the point. I haven’t even bothered re-charging my watch.

    I arrived back home with a big smile on my face, Mrs B was up and about, and without any hint of sarcasm or whit, I made sure to thank her for the 04:30 elbow Smile.

    Comments (15)

    • HOBSCowboy 'Lovely, lovely blog Rob - so heart warming - even the pain of the apple press seemed lyrical. I'm looking forward past Snowdon to trail runs and ignoring the watch, you and Bolty have painted such great thought provoking pictures in your blogs, I cannot wait. ' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • marcphillips 'How you manage to make the feeling of needing a poo so desirable when running I don't know, but I almost want to have the same problem myself next time I'm running. Great writing Rob, and notice I said 'almost', I don't really want it!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • gloshawk 'Loving the write up, Rob. As eloquent as ever, even the "nature's calling" moments! I'm with you - I love the honesty of an early morning run, the feeling that you're making the most of those lovely, silent, solitary dawn moments. I have to say that the streets of Briz hardly compare with what you have described beautifully though. See you on those slopes very soon!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • hollywooddave 'When I first saw that picture mr barber I though ' bloody hell that's a hell of a hill he's climbed ' lol! I love pics like that, I reckon every kid should be taught about space , when he see how fragile we are it makes us enjoy life more. As for your run, well what can I say, bloody brilliant, stats mean diddly squat on days like that:)' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • Nick 'Lovely descriptions, Rob! Early in the morning is often the very best time to run. Although, when you're getting to my age it takes a while for the old body to loosen up!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • gloshawk 'Hollywood, I think diddly squatting whilst out on a run was Rob's worry!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • hollywooddave 'Lol jim!!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • Berlin_Bolt 'Word perfect Rob! This is what it's all about. I must admit I had the same thought as HD when I saw that picture, wow you do live high up!! Since turning to the trails I have the same attitude as you, forget the stats and open your eyes, enjoy the landscape and try to overcome the pains in our bodies! Nothing wrong with walking, you're out there and that's all that matters! See you very soon! :)' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • moose10 'what a way to spend an early morning who needs stats indeed and all done and dusted before most of us had stirred bet you had that satisfied glow about you all day,great write up to boot' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • AngusMc 'if I hadn't joined this site I wouldn't be thinking how I'm thinking now. Trail shoe shopping. Thanks Rob' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • libbylaird 'Absolutely lovely Blog Rob.....I know if I went out running at that time of the morning straight from my house I would be writing about a nondescript trading estate instead! You're very lucky indeed!' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • bevlar 'Lovely blog Rob, I so wish that I didn't work so all my runs could be in the morning - roll on retirement - hopefully I can still run by then lol! I am only a few minutes from the edge of the town where I live and then its running into the countryside, nothing as wonderful sounding as where you are but at least its green & lush and beautifully quiet in the early mornings - although I've not done a 4:30am yet. ' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • SteveB77 'What a great read! Loved the description of the view. You should be a writer if you aren't already' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • KickAS_Kat 'Absolutely beautiful and pure magic Rob - you've engendered happiness with your incredible descriptive powers. You know I don't run yet, but I don't sleep much either. We don't have those glorious mountains or hills here, but I can picture the scene you describe as plain as day :) In summer, I'll often head out for a walk just before dawn breaks when the rest of the human world sleeps and nature shows you the most special things. If we were out in the sticks, I'd do it in winter too, but being I the 'burbs is somehow unnerving in the dark. Chronic pain has it's advantages :) ' added 17th Oct 2014

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    • LeightonSean 'Fantastic post Rob . I love the early mornings , it is my favourite time to run it's almost like another world , no traffic or people along the canal , just me and the other nocturnal creatures :) ' added 17th Oct 2014

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