Sunday run day.. the lovely long runs and perfect for a post-run ramble. My old friends know this and will head for the hills Be warned, this is a long one.
I have been adventuring. After climbing off the IC, I have, as many of you know been building back up slowly to running strength and stamina. Five weeks repeating C25K and then moving on in a structured way.
Because of the weather, and really grotty conditions,I have done more road and lane running than usual, and I decided to explore the local areas I have not explored before with my running So, last week and yesterday morning.. I headed out to the aerodrome estate a little way away from me. I ventured there last week and got very, very muddy and wet... but found some grassy spaces which will be great for short... errr... speedy-ish.... runs in Summer
Out, later for me this morning, into a glorious day,chilly but bright,the sky, huge and clear and not a cloud to mar that empty blue vault of air. No one around as I headed, as on so many mornings, out of the Close, and onto the hill. The gardens are beginning to show the shyest signs of Spring; daffodils, cheap and cheerful, green leaf baby- buds on the shrubs and those gardens whose owners have thrown caution to the wind, and put out bedding plants...a step too far for some, and I fear for those bright regimented rows.
I had chosen the first part of the route deliberately... a long slow incline, to keep my pace down. I had a distance in mind, and starting too quickly would be disastrous for me. Up to Seagull roundabout;the huge lamp-lights unadorned this morning by the white Seagull sentinels of other mornings, over and down the short ramp and up into my run. It is not a steep hill, but it is a long one, thankfully I was turning off before the half-way point.. and heading into a grassy area I found on Friday. Uphill running is so odd... sometimes, it takes real effort and sometimes, as this morning, my feet just moved as if they had minds of their own. I had Laura with me, also, this morning and the Stamina podcast... so her reassuring tones, her reminders of style, all helped my progress. Reaching the turn, I struck off-road and onto the grassy area that ran behind the houses, along into the heart of the estate.
This estate was built on an aerodrome. opened in 1935. and saw extensive development during the Second World War, then used privately until it closed in 1970. Nothing remains of it now.
Running along the edge of the ground, I was aware that the ground was very wet, and getting wetter...I tried to keep off what was the main walk through for local dog walkers, running through the edges and hedged areas, but to no avail and within minutes, any running style I may have had, was replaced by a disjointed stagger from one sodden bog to the next. I persevered, and eventually found a found a dry stretch, legs working well, easy breathing and a flattish space to run... along and along and the added bonus of a whole span of scarlet stemmed Dogwood.... a delight to see... picking up a slightly faster pace I headed to the road that splits the estate and turned along though the DIY stores and superstore littered road.
It was eerie.. the stores closed and shuttered, and not a soul in site. I did not, at this point know where I was going, but I bravely carried on! Footsteps echoing as I passes the padlocked gates , the delivery vans parked in patient perfection...tomorrow's delivery deadline would soon be here. A chap walking a dog startled me as he appeared round the far corner, but responded wonderfully as I asked him for directions... he did warn me, that it was very soggy and sludgy and muddy, but glancing at my feet and leggings remarked that I had obviously already found that out somewhere He was not wrong...!
On and around and realising I was further out than I thought, although not sure where, it was time to head back. There is something slightly surreal about running somewhere like this... open expanses of green, edged by huge trees and thickets, dark and tangled hiding goodness knows what, and yet in such close proximity to the houses and gardens, fenced and walled and Sunday sleeping as I run, a strange grey figure in the morning sun. So close to humanity and yet...
Back across the muddiest expanse of ground I think I have ever found... my feet sinking with every step... I kept running, or rather, I kept moving... despite all, enjoying this and as ever, knowing why I love running so much... back across the central road and retracing my steps... I ran a slightly different route and breathing steadily, moving lightly along a drier area, I was aware of a deep silence... ahead I spotted a lump of brickwork and concrete.. a post still tilted in it... a remnant of the past airfield.
I paused slightly, running slower... and imagined I could hear something.... the disgruntled murmuring of idling aircraft engines...low-throated, straining and eager to escape the confines of the ground....and for a split second saw those young blue uniformed boys....those few, who in the words of John Magee,
“...waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth, to touch the face of God.”
The shadows faded and all was as it had been.
Back across the grass, towards familiar territory and 2 more kilometres to run; but the joy of starting a route with an incline is the return trip, even with sodden feet! So, back down and into the village... round by the station, a quick detour up past Rookery Wood and then turning back again and a final burst towards the finishing point. The sun warm on my back now...the prospect of a hot shower and a late breakfast...8K covered.. slow and steady as ever.... running for over an hour. I was unsure of some of the places I was running in even though they were so close to home... but what a happy run.
“ Sometimes it feels good to be lost, in the right direction.”