Friday, 15 June 2012

Running Into The Unknown

I stayed in Tortworth Court, a hotel near our office, last night. I live about 30’ from the office but that’s assuming you can drive, which I can’t. Plus, every couple of months or so we have a team meeting which is about socialising as much as owt else, so it’s good (and encouraged) for me to do so.
Tortworth Court is a Grade 2-listed Victorian mansion, set in ample grounds. It also houses a gym / sauna / pool area for residents and members which I’ve used in the past. But this was the first time I packed trainers and clothes with the express intention of making the time to use them rather than just hope to stumble across it.
Not that I did use the gym last night, mind. Rain wasn’t too bad… rural enough setting… why stay indoors?
So off I ventured into the great unknown. The grounds weren’t as large as I thought and, when a site borders a prison, you are a tad more respectful towards those “do not cross” signs. I ran off site and followed my nose through local country roads… although these were not to take me home in any great hurry.
My colleagues and I had agreed to head out around 18:30 so I knew how long I could be out. What I wasn’t sure was which road led where. The point came when I knew it would make sense to head back. For better or worse, I thought I’d find a different way to the one travelled out…

… and what fun that was! I can say that now because I did get back in time. Yesterday evening, mind, whilst trawling through muddy fields, I must admit I did question my own wisdom. Having seen cows in adjacent fields on the way out, even the choice of a red shirt was at best questionable. But that was fine by the time I headed back: I didn’t see any bulls, in fact even the cows had gone home.

Based on what the 101010 has in store for me, it was good to get off the tarmac and onto some grass and terrain. Not that I ran all the time I was off the tarmac, mind, purely out of self preservation: with the ground beneath my feet well and truly sodden, slipping and injuring myself whilst running uphill in woods near an unknown country field without a human or bovine in sight didn’t seem desirable. I ultimately found my way back onto a main road without pavements which, at around 18:00 on a work day, was obviously a thrilling experience. There was even a sign advising drivers to go into low gear as steepness was over 10%. What better motivation for a runner without the safety of a pavement trying to find his way to a hotel?

I should have hated this 45’ experience. As it happens, I saw a nice enough country church, to start with it wasn’t raining that badly and for the final stages… well, that was the least of my worries by then anyway, I was too busy avoiding cars. I found that easier to do at walking pace, keen as I was to run up the >10% hill. And the truth is, there is something enjoyable, in a childish sort of way, about not knowing where you’re going whilst having a decent enough idea about where you need to get back to. It did make me think of the many a time over the years when my Dad, upon returning from a cycle or a run, has begun a sentence with “I went”. Because the details that ensue generally mean little to me, I often find myself either nodding with my (false) knowing look or just keeping quiet but for the occasional ‘hmm’ over the phone. But I could see why so many sentences have begun with “I went” over the years: it’s nice to share. Still, I kept quiet with my colleagues, not least as I wasn’t really sure meself where I’d been. And even MultiMap won’t help me figure out how far I ran last night… I’ve put 6.5k in the spreadsheet, shouldn’t be too far out.

We had a delightful Thai meal last night, which I felt I’d earnt. Food seems to taste better when you’ve earnt it. And, just to make sure, I hit the gym for 35’ this morning, for some rowing and then some cycling. I would have happier stayed there for longer but I did actually have an office to get to. I’d at least set the resistance level on both machines to a level which made the 35’ worthwhile.

Quick shower, then breakfast. Now, Tortworth Court does a delightful full English. But, just like last night at the bar, I behaved. Fruit & Fibre and Muesli for me. I’m genuinely not over-conscious about my weight: what I do find is that, having put in time and effort to lose some and improve my fitness, I’m uncharacteristically reluctant to ruin that by eating too much. I may relax after I’ve got to the next buckle, mind. For now, whilst I’ve not banned any food or beverage, I’m just being a tad more resistant to temptation. Won’t last.

Heading home tonight, with a Red Arrows display over Portishead kicking off the local carnival. That’s the plan, anyway: weather not great, though looks like it will be good enough. I’m not fussed either way, to be honest. My primary concern for this evening is being within close proximity to a screen showing the England – Sweden game. Where that screen may be, and whether above us supersonic jets are making pretty manoeuvres, are really secondary considerations. With that I mean no disrespect to the Arrows, but we did see them back in 2004 and I do expect the ‘wow’ factor to be diminished by that memory. Besides, it looks like the display won’t last more than a dozen minutes or so, which hopefully won’t compromise 90’ of football!
The Red Arrows display is part of the local carnival. Given that ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin ‘carne vale’, meaning ‘farewell to meat’ (least I assume it does, as I’ve actually worked that one out myself – seems obvious enough, if you know a bit of Latin), it seems somewhat odd to be holding it at any time other than the eve of Lent (as Catholic countries do, in one final, overblown hurrah of man’s carnivorous nature), let alone during BBQ Season. But then we’re too pragmatic for that in this country, electing to party when the weather best suits (in theory, anyway). So the next two days won’t be affecting my current meat-eating habits. Besides, the way it’s chucking it down, there won’t be many barbeques this weekend.

Oh, and in case you
’re wondering as to why I’m not whining and moaning about my Asics getting ruined in the mud… foresight, my friends, foresight. They were home and dry, replaced on this occasion by an old pair of Nike shoes previously only really used for cycling. I know, even Im shocked by such nouse and initiative!

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