Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Oh For The Simple Days of Old

In the olden days things were very simple weren’t they? You stuck on your boots, rousted the dog then belted off up the nearest hill and back down again. Then after a night in the pub you did it all again the next day with never any problems, except for the odd toenail disfigurement or some such.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise in your 5th decade that the old bod starts to exhibit signs of being well, over the hill. I mean here am I, desperate to get out of this closet and fledge, somewhat latterly as an ultra-runner, only to find I’ve run less this year than I have in many a year.
I mean just as I’m starting to recover from my worst running injury ever that’s kept me from building the miles up I now find at least over the last week I’m stricken with a calf pull on the other leg. Still, at least it’s only a pull so it won’t take long to heal hopefully. To help everything along I’ve actually stopped running for a whole week. Well, it was going to be two weeks but that thought was just too hard to bear so a week it will be and it terminates this Friday.
It’s actually not been too bad as I’ve been able to do 150 miles cycling this week and that hasn’t bothered the legs at all and it’s kept my fitness going. So with a bit of luck the rest will rejuvenate the old running bits. The weekend will be the telling point as it looks like mother-in-law duty is imminent. At least that means I get to go for a nice long trot on the North Yorkshire Moors. Mind you that’s where the leg first blew up so hopefully no omen there.
Fingers crossed for some miles next week.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

My Dog, Moss

Today my dog gave me one hell of a scare disappearing as she did for well over an hour out in the Ochil’s. She has a bad habit of chasing deer and this time she got herself majorly lost in heavy snow and thick fog.
Being by myself and minus Moss, it was difficult to decide what exactly to do about it. I was in ten minds as to what she might do and so decided to run on home and check she hadn’t got back there somehow. She wasn’t home though so I had no option but to get into full walking gear and launch a one man search mission.
Amazingly, not ten minutes after resuming the search I saw her racing across the hillside. I called her and she changed course, bounded down the hill to me and gave me a huge doggy welcome. I was very, very relieved to find her with the weather closing in again.
Dogs are amazing companions for running.  Thinking back over the dogs I’ve had in my life. They’ve all been completely different from each other but I’ve loved them all just the same.
As a runner, my most consistent running companion was Meg, a collie who lived to the grand old age of 15 and ran with me for 13 of those years before going into retirement. She was the best friend I've ever had and whom I'd known longer than my wife. Ok, she was a pain in the arse at times ( Meg that is) but she ran thousands of miles with me.

We shared a tent and a sleeping bag when she was soaked as we wild camping in winter. She growled at me when I dared to move while she was curled in the foot of the bag and she coveted my food when she’d eaten her own but I think I can honestly say she made me laugh every time I went out with her, with those peculiar little idiosyncratic ways of hers.

When she was old and couldn’t run anymore, despite the fact that she was deaf as a post, with poor eyesight she was still full of beans despite the ravages of a couple of strokes.  I still loved her though and now I cherish the memories I have of times shared with her. It’s a fact though that one day when you put on your running shoes your dog will no longer want go with you and that is the inevitable tragedy of being a dog owner.
Now my four legged companion is Moss, another border collie. A sprightly skinny bundle of energy as all 3 year old collies should be. She could never replace Meg but she follows neatly on from her and the times we have in the hills are every bit as good.
There’s something really nice about a dog running alongside you with paws tick tick ticking along the path and her own breathing just as controlled and rhythmic as my own. Mind you it’s only at the end of the run that she’ll deem to run alongside me. Most of the time she will be bounding across the heather like a thing possessed convinced she can catch the grouse that are flying over her head.
As I write this she’s curled up asleep next to me on the sofa and very soon she’ll start twitching and yipping as she goes into dream land where she’s racing through the hills again.