Friday, 18 February 2011

A run along the coast

59 days until the Boston Marathon.


My alarm went off at 6. Reluctlantly, I got out of bed, gathered my running clothes, and took them to the sitting room to dress. We were staying in a small chalet, and I didn't want to wake my wife by dressing in the bedroom.

The chalet was cold as we had turned down the heat for the night. It was near the coast of Scotland, and we'd travelled there for a long weekend during the children's half-term holiday. (Half-term is a week off from school, for no apparent reason, half-way through the school term. I don't remember such breaks when I was a child; I suppose it's a British tradition.)

I made a cup of coffee, and ate a cinnamon whirl that was left in the kitchen. The children started stirring a bit, perhaps excited by waking somewhere new, and I told them it was too early to get up. They agreed, and closed their shared bedroom door, but I could their quiet conversation continuing.


It was dark outside, and cold. It had rained the night before, but this had cleared, and now the road was icy in places. I had gloves on, but my fingertips were cold.

The road was a single lane farm track. I chose to stay on this, rather than head onto busier roads, as I was unlikely to encounter any traffic. I left a bottle of diluted juice and a snack bar behind a sign near the side of the road. My plan was to run to the end of the track - about four miles - and then back, and then do it all again.

What does one think about on a long run? Initially, I thought about how unnatural it was to be up and running in the dark. It was almost if you are running in secret. I then thought about how, as I age - I'm nearly 45 now - my preferences have insensibly become more domestic, maybe more staid. For example, air travel used to be wholly exciting for me, and it still is to an extent. But now it's tinged with a dread of jet-lag and the fatigue of travel.

The road led through pastures and bits of wood, with only the occasional house. Suddenly, at a curve in the road, I could smell the sea. It was dark out still, but there was a light from a small boat in the bay. A low cloud hung over open water at the end of the bay.

Up ahead was a light near the shore. As I approached, I could see that it was a red telephone booth, with a light on inside. Next to it were lobster traps and buoys. One could leave the phone booth and in five strides be on the water's edge.

The road narrowed, and ended in a fenced driveway. I turned, and headed back the other way as it started to get light.


Later, after the run and breakfast, we took the children to a sea-life center. It had a trail next to the shore, and I took a picture of a fishing boat anchored a short distance away.

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