Rekindled magic

The cold wind blew down platform one as I stood waiting for the next train. My usual train came in a few minutes before but had been too crowded to board, so I let the really desperate-looking commuters get on. For all I know they might have a hot date to get home to be ready for, or something banal like Love Island. Bless. Anyway, so I accepted my fate and waited a few minutes more. With a screeching trundle, in it came. A few rosy red faces pressed up to the glass, though most heads were bowed like there was a minute’s silence for some tragedy. The smartphone tragedy. I hopped on and began to warm up.

An hour later, my understaffed chariot of despair ground to a halt at my stop. “Great!”, I thought. “I’ll get home, and go for that run that I’ve been plotting all day.” Then two things hit me when I stepped off the train. The first was the cold wind, and the second was reality. And they were both inextricably linked. To make matters worse, the house was warm, everyone was pleased to see me, even the cats, though I suspect they thought I’d brought food, and brutally, dinner was ready. As I shuffled past the shoe stand, I’m sure I heard my trainers laughing at me.

I settled down, ate my dinner, caught up with everyone’s day, then… wallop, like a pro, before I knew it, I was upstairs, pulling on my running shorts. A couple of layers to compensate for the inconvenience of cold weather, my head torch and an iron will later, I was gone.

Within a mile I had left the last lampost of town behind. Leaving its circle of light can be both exhilarating and unnerving. As soon as I turned off the main road, I was completely alone. The only thing I had for company was a nearly-full moon. Struck by its beauty and brightness, it took me back to a long-lost memory, one that I was happy to revisit, given my current life predicament. I switched off my torch and navigated by moonlight alone.

My mind stretched back, searching, using the visual clue of the moon as its bait. There it was, perhaps ten years ago, when I was in a much rougher place, my lowest ebb perhaps. Sleepless nights, occasionally glimpsing the full winter moon out of the window. It seemed strangely soothing to be able to see a distant satellite, countless miles away, and although feeling alone, I knew I was one of many gazing up at it at that precise moment.

Fast forward a year or two, and my troubles at that time required an escape. And that’s where nature came in. This whole other world of places, living things, occurrences, some of which are unexplained. I didn’t get much help from people, so I stopped looking, happy to surround myself in the outdoors. Even when I wasn’t actually in it, I’d be reading about it. And so began the shaping of who I am today.

I remember walking home from town from the pub to the village where I once lived, no street lights, again guided by the full moon. The pavement-less road like a silver ribbon ahead of me.

Everything at that time felt magic. Over the years I’ve lost that magic as there aren’t as many new things to discover; or maybe I stopped searching. From seeing the moon again like that, it rekindled a forgotten fire inside of me, so perhaps it’s time to search again.

King of the Ill

It only happens once a year. A bit like the tax return, or Christmas, but last Friday afternoon, just as the weekend came into view…I got ill.

I managed to get up fine on Saturday and go to the ParkRun, probably running quicker than I should have done, given how I was beginning to feel. I started off steady and got competitive! What started out as a “making up the numbers, pleased to be here, just going to enjoy it blah blah” run, turned into a pretty intense sub-20 minutes 5k. Again, despite feeling on the brink, I went for a walk in the afternoon, trying to keep illness at bay. I have a very strong “get up and go” attitude when I’m ill, preferring to carry on as normal and just get on with it. By Saturday evening however, things were looking bleak. My get up and go attitude seemingly had gotten up and gone. Being male, I was the most unwell person in the world. I took to the sofa, then bed, and began going over my Will and insurance policies. With all that over with, I slipped into a paracetamol-induced coma and spent ten hours having trippy dreams, with surreal shapes whizzing about and having conversations with dead relatives.

Eventually, after what felt like the longest night, morning came. As odd as it sounds, I still harboured ideas of going for a ten mile run with my 20kg Bergen. Over the course of the day, my attitude adjusted accordingly, and not wanting to fail RED January right at the end, I went for a lung-burning, mucus-moving, ill-advised 5k run in the late afternoon.

I look back now, partly thanks to the miracles of what could be found in the chemists, and I’m glad I went out. Granted, if it wasn’t RED January I more than likely would have stayed in. On Monday evening, I barely scraped a mile and wore more layers than I would if I were in the mountains. But just as a friend reminded me, it’s only a mile, but they all count. Strangely it was only the cold that worried me. Once I got out there and saw that the ungritted pavements looked like glass, it dawned on me that I might actually slip on my arse. I’m surely due one soon as I believe it was 2017 that I last got on the wrong side of Jack Frost. But sure enough, my self-proclaimed nickname of The Cat, lived up to its hype. I stayed on my feet with dignity in tact. In fact, The Cat nickname is more likely down to my past reputation of scratching at the door at around pub closing time, looking for milk.

As I now reach mid-week, I’m almost back to normal and inevitably I’m thinking, “I could have ran 3 miles instead of 1”. Better look at that Will again.