Jo and I waited a while today, before we ran, until the wind and rain had died down.
We ran to Farnhill pinnacle and did a bit on the canal to avoid the flooded fields.
Farnhill moor is a great place to walk and run. When running you can run straight from the door. When walking with the kids you can park nearer, at the bottom of the moor. It's a mini moor really. A perfect size and shape for children to explore. A gentle climb that takes you to a stunning view point, with lots of bracken for playing hide and seek (and BOO!) in the summer.
It's a place that I was often taken for a walk, as a child. I am sure there are photos somewhere of my sister and me, there, in matching Paddington Bear coats. Now we are replacing them with our own collection of photos of our children, toddling, running and at times being carried up to the pinnacle.
When reading through my blog, it is similar places and themes that occur again and again. That is the nature of life and the running routine. But I'm not complaining. I enjoy the familiar places. There is always a different story to tell, depending on the weather, who we met, what happened and the things we talked about.
Like today. We saw some cute, brown, long horned sheep that were almost marooned cause the river was so high; I fell over on the canal but was fine because the ground is so soft again; we made plans for a running night out after Christmas and we struggled over some of the climbs amid the slippy slidy rocks. We got buffeted by the wind and a bit of drizzle. We looked at the flooded valley which turns into a lake at the slightest amount of rain.
We got home refreshed, as always, by getting out into the wonderful landscape we live in. Sanity restored once again, through the simple pleasure of running/stumbling/staggering up a hill.
Bikes always seem like unpredictable creatures. A bit like horses. They can never be completely trusted not to throw you off , not to head towards the kerb or a tree root. They need gentle words and careful handling.
Which is why I felt quite intrepid when I took my mountain bike out for it's first excursion in the dark.
I've always wanted to cycle more because I know it's good to cross train and I know cycling is particularly helpful for fell running. I'd always cycled when I was younger but it's much more time consuming and difficult to fit in than running. Well it always seemed so.
Living here also means you have the choice of cycling on really busy roads or constantly cycling up massive hills . It's hard work.
Things improved in the summer when I got a new mountain bike. I didn't have to struggle with the pollution monsters too much and I could get up the hills more easily. It even liked mud and grass, like me.
We've always done a bit with the boys and travelled to get to appropriate places but recently I've started exploring local bridleways. Most of which are muddy and grassy and rubbish really, but great fun. I like pottering around in the mud. Probably not the best training but I don't mind that.
To get out in the winter when you have business in your life, you need to be prepared to face the dark. The first challenge was to move my Hope head torch (equivalent to a ton of Prozac) from my head strap to my bike. After a short lesson I was amazed how quick and easy it was.
Then I went out on the muddy, leaf strewn, tree rooted, canal, a couple of bridleways and a bit of road. It was great. And not as scary as running headtorching because you have to concentrate even more and don't have time to look in the bushes.
I did about ten miles, which was just right for a Friday tea time. It definitely blew the work frustrations away. I'm looking forward to the next time for which I've already got a new route thought of. A new night and a new plan.
I am also lucky because usually, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I have lovely people to run with.
Although, sometimes, life/children/work/husbands conspire against the best hoped for running plans and tonight was one of those nights. If I wanted to go running, I would have to brave the rustling bushes and the wobbling shadows and go headtorching by myself.
In such circumstances it is easy to just collapse on the sofa and not bother, but I managed to fight the urge to lie down and got out in the dark, with hope on my head.
It was a lovely mild night and I really enjoyed being blown along, under the stars. It was a bit spooky and quiet without the usual chat and hilarity, but I kept my cool and didn't panic too much.
At one farm, at the top of hill, a scary dog, unusually, came bounding out. Fortunately it didn't spot my torch and ran in the opposite direction. As I ran down the fields, I imagined if it had bitten me, and how I would struggle to sound sane and rational when reporting it to the dog warden,
How I would be mis-understood, when I tried to explain......why I was in the centre of a field, at the top of a hill, in the middleish of no where, by myself, wearing not that many layers, with a weird torch on my head.
That's the trouble with running by yourself, in the dark. You think too much.