Running for me is a joy, a release, a filling of my lungs with fresh air. It’s an opportunity to get out there and literally allow the wind to blow off the cobwebs of the day – the stuff that has stuck on, to get rid of thoughts and just allow the rhythm of my feet thumping on the road to do their stuff.
So on Friday, after my first day back at work after a weeks holiday, I was looking forward to lacing up the trainers and getting out there. I had already prepared my mind through the day that this was the plan, and that it would be a slightly longer run than usual.
I decided to go upwards from where I live, along the ‘main’ country road which has a beautiful view of the Otago peninsula. Although it was onwards and upwards, (in runner speak, a ‘bit of a grind’) I was enjoying just being out there, and this time, with music to accompany me.
However the onwards and upwards bit meant that I was running at a slightly slower pace than usual. This meant that the route I had mapped in my mind would be unlikely to be completed in the time I had given as to being home for dinner. Not a problem really, how often are runners out exercising for a precise amount of time? Not many, I bet.
But this is spring, in Dunedin. Although winter has supposedly gone (a joke really, as I write this, its snowing intermittently and the freezing wind is a gale), the daylight hours are still to stretch out. And about an hour into my run, while running down a slippery farm track toward the beach roads at the bottom, I had an epiphany – no way was I going to get back either in time, or before it got totally dark. I stopped. I was at a guess, about half way to the bottom of the farm track. I knew a little of what lay ahead and knew also that the tracks would take a bit of negotiation – boggy, slippery in places and the odd rock and stone to negotiate.
So I looked at what was ahead of the tracks, and saw the long, windy road following the lower beach roads – up and down, for what seemed to be a very long way then looked at what was behind me, the farm track heading to the roads at the top – leading to the upper road which would give me a gentle sloping downward run to my home. What to do? Go onward and hope I could see, and be seen by other vehicles, once on the narrow winding road? Or trail back and run the exact tracks and roads I had followed to get to where I was. The advantage of going back was the fact of the main road being slightly wider – allowing me to get off easily to the side when cars come by. The only reflective gear I was wearing was my iphone attached to my arm. Better than nothing, but not ideal in the dark.
So I opted for the going back option. Had I taken into account how far I had come since leaving the main road? No. Had I taken into account how steep that farm track was? No. But by now I was committed. One foot in front of the other as I trudged back up the hill through the gate and onto the gravel road leading to the main road turn-off.
Why did I do that? It wasn’t the easy path exactly, but it was a well-known route (once off the track). Whereas the lower option was all new – only run once on a brilliantly sunny day in the summer!
So I was late – the value of having the phone meant I could send a text to advise of my estimated time of arrival.
I walked in the door exuberant. I felt so good. I had completed just under 18km. A great milestone toward my half-marathon coming up.
Yes, the meal waiting was a little burnt -(Isn’t it funny that the one time a meal is cooked on time is the one I am not there on time to enjoy it?)
Sometimes in life we do what I did. We stop. Look around, and not knowing whats ahead, we turn around and trundle back along on the path well travelled.
Some of us are more adventurous and would not turn around, not for anyone or anything. All roads lead home, don’t they? As long as we get there in the end, does it matter?
And yes, I do plan to do the run again sometime, this time I will follow those roads to complete the loop – but it will be in daylight, when I have just a little more time …