Up until now my favourite route had been Blueberry Hills. So named (by me) because, well, firstly it was hilly. Secondly, there were always lots of what appeared to be delicious dark blueberries at the side of the dirt track. It was always comforting to know that if I ever got stranded out there I’d be able to sustain myself with those juicy morsels. Funny thing was I never actually saw any blueberry bushes around there. Lots of rabbits though.
Maybe the rabbits ate all the bushes.
Anyway, on my last visit to that route I’d ventured across the road on the way back to see what was over there, and was pleasantly surprised to see some open grassland leading to some woods. Right on my doorstep and I’d never even realised it existed. I’d tried to run it the next day but overdid it, and owwy-shin-syndrome meant that I only got halfway across the field before having to hobble back.
This time was different. I’d rested enough between runs, and also read somewhere that the feeling that my legs were made of lead, which had previously dogged some of my runs, was likely caused by a lack of carbohydrates. Either that or I’d accidentally put on lead diving boots in my hurry to get out the door. It happens.
So anyway, an hour before setting out I’d necked a bottle of Gatorade and an energy bar, and was looking forward to a pleasant afternoon run. I’ve never been terribly aware of the changing of the seasons, as my internal calendar only tends to recognise “Christmas” and “Payday”, but now that I was out running it really felt like Spring was, well, springing. The sky was bright blue, and it was warm but not uncomfortably so. I followed my normal route, but then turned off into the field that led to the woods I had seen previously. A lightly gravelled track wound its way into the tree-line with a slight gradient, enough to keep it interesting without actually making it exhausting. I won’t go into every twist and turn of the route, but suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I was only a couple of miles out of town I felt completed detached from anything remotely urban, and found myself falling into a relaxed stride. I did stop and walk a couple of times, mostly to shout at my iPhone which clearly wasn’t enjoying the run as much as I was, and kept switching itself off just to annoy me. But for the most part I kept running, for some reason not feeling as tired as I normally would, even though it was eventually twice the distance I’d normally do on an average day. I’m not sure if this was due to the carbs powering me along or to the fact that it was a sunny day in a shiny new environment, but I certainly wasn’t about to argue.
At the apex of the run I stumbled across an old water tower, tucked away amidst the trees and sitting on legs more than 10ft off the ground, with a little ladder leading up to it. Those who know me will have no problem believing me when I say that it took every ounce of willpower not to stop and build a den there.
So I retraced my steps and started the return leg, and as I made my way along the track with tall pine trees* either side of me it suddenly dawned on me that I was smiling as I ran. Not just a wry grin, but a wide beaming “this is f***ing great” smile. Okay, so in hindsight I may have looked slightly mad, but at the time it was a nice touch, and also it kept the bears away.
So that’s it, my first blog entry. Will there be more? Possibly. If so, will they contain more nonsense than actual stuff about running? Probably. Were there really bears? Probably not.
4.31 miles (6.94km), 45 minutes (approximately – as mentioned earlier, my iPhone is a complete bastard)
*At least they looked like pine trees. I’m not really an outdoorsy sort of person. I’m almost certain they were trees though.