have had a tough couple of days since my ebullient last post. work knocking the stuffing out of me a bit leaving me wobbly. and the UFYD challenge also coming home to roost in my domestic life. apparently if I spend the equivalent of a working day doing tasks I normally don’t do, other things fall by the wayside. who knew? so the laundry heap grows and the living areas of the house look like Glastonbury when everyone has left the site. I need to get the other occupants of the house to put away their own crap!

last week’s admin total = 7 hours. box ticked. just. feeling ridiculously raw and defenceless facing up to the things I have left undone. some friends once bought a house which had been occupied by a heavy smoker, and one of the reasons they got it at an excellent price was because every surface was covered with a sulphurous tarry film of nicotine. and in my lower moments I despair of chipping away the residue of all my drinking years. I tell myself as robustly as I can that there is nothing that cannot be achieved with elbow grease and determination. I am sure there are others who have greater damage to repair than I – damage to human relationships, which is far more difficult to put right than a few measly bits of paperwork…

so yesterday morning it was an effort to leave all the muddle behind and head out for a run, but I did. and it was one of those runs where my need for a meditative head space seemed doomed. starting with an unfruitful hunt for the right gear – my shorter running trousers have disappeared into thin air so had to go out in longer ones. and as the run progressed the day got warmer and I realised I should have worn a cap. so I got hotter and hotter.

I had chosen a new route. it involved a stretch of main road taking me into two quieter villages. well, won’t be running that stretch again. it had far too many blind corners and nutters driving at 50mph. I was leaping into hedges, getting nettled and brambled ย in preference to being flattened like a hedgehog. so, hot, scared and scratched and not Zen at all.

once I got to the first village the run improved dramatically. I had only driven through it previously and it is much easier to have a good nosy at other people’s lives when running in dark glasses ๐Ÿ˜‰ there were some beautiful houses and I got a satisfying hit of property porn. and yes, a stunning honey stone manor house – but my favourite was a darling little cottage with a front door painted the precise shade of blackcurrant yoghurt. I now have fantasies of moving in there on my own and keeping it perfectly clean and tidy. with white sofas. and no pets, wellies, or frying of bacon permitted…

and then my mind got to that delicious point of free-wheeling. which is something you can struggle towards on a long run but only really happens when you are able to let go. when it becomes less about the destination and more about the journey. and you are able to see the buzzard wheeling overhead, and the blackberries in the hedgerows. and those things completely occupy your mind to the exclusion of all others, and you sink into the now like a feather bed.

about halfway around the route, which I had intended to be a nine mile run, it became obvious that either I had misremembered which way to take, or I had miscalculated. because it was taking longer and I had run further than I intended. I had deliberately chosen a new route so I could learn some new paths, but when I had run through one particular farmyard I was faced with two divergent unmarked tracks downhill. I took photos to show you ๐Ÿ˜‰

this one looked the most tempting. broad and open. with obvious signs of use by other people.

photo 1

unfortunately, after peering over hedgerows at surrounding landmarks, I could see that this was the path I needed to take:

photo 2

and it is a jolly good thing that Mr P doesn’t read my blog because this is exactly the type of path that makes him want to forbid me to ever run again. he frets about me breaking my ankle somewhere miles from human habitation and mobile signal and my body being found weeks later, partially devoured by badgers… and to be honest that is a concern to me, too. the fallen boulders were particularly worrying.

but I made it through, though it got terrifically nettly at the far end. at which point my Garmin told me that I had run my nine miles – but I was still a good couple of miles from home. and I was really tired, and hot, and stung. and I just wanted to have finished, but there was nothing else to do but carry on running.

it was over eleven miles by the time I achieved my own (sadly not blackcurrant coloured) door. and I was very glad to be back.

sometimes it is not about the journey, it is about the importance of making it home again. sometimesย taking the long way home is the route we have to take to get there.

wishing perseverance, strength and courage for all of us,ย wherever we are on the road.

57 days to go to one year.