Half term over, temporarily interruption in service now over, hobbit hash excursion restored. Yay! I was quite excited about heading out today. The only slight complication was my increasing OCD with respect of Smiletastic. My hobbit friend and I have committed to running different distances this week, so I needed to go for a bit further than her. I got round this by heading out earlier, and adding on an extra 4km loop before our rendezvous.
There were some fringe benefits to this. The main one of which was feeling incredibly smug at my athleticism before she had even started. You cannot overestimate the joy that brought. The secondary benefit, which was actually a source of greater virtual fiscal joy in relation to Smiletastic bonus points, was the opportunity to snap some ice shots to provide supporting evidence to our Smiley Elder Super Geek to assist her in exercising her judgement in relation to the allocation of sub-zero bonus points. This necessitating stopping running periodically to be diverted by trying to frame a shot of seagulls confused by ice on water, and finding a particularly good ice-puddle frozen over to pose by. I fully accept the shots don’t quite add up to an Antarctic landscape, but conclusive all the same.
Though note to self, maybe I should start getting a newspaper before I head out so the date is also captured in shot. Things are hotting up with Smiletastic, wouldn’t want to give those Clucky Ducks wiggle room were they to make a challenge… hmm, tactics, always tactics. When I signed up to Smiletastic all those many moons ago, I could never have anticipated what a paranoia inducing endeavour it would be. Still, good to find out how low members of your running club will stoop in pursuit of… actually nothing, there isn’t a prize, so that sentence finishes ‘in pursuit of nothing at all’. You need to know who and what you are dealing with in life. Henceforth the dateline in the life of Smiley Runners will be known as BS (before Smiletastic) and AS (after Smiletastic) which I appreciate divides life potentially in to Bullshit times and Arsey times but the truth must be spake…
Anyway, I enjoyed my little yomp round all alone, I felt sort of hardcore, because if you voluntarily run solo then clearly that makes you a ‘proper’ runner, even if you feel a bit self-conscious doing so, and can’t help noticing that other ‘proper runners’ out there are whizzing round in shorts and vest whilst I’ve got my woollen hat on. Still, I remind myself that these are people equipped for park conditions, we and hobbit friend will be climbing the mountain and maybe heading out for longer… What is a proper runner anyway? Oh gawd, I don’t know, I think I’ll always feel an imposter in running gear, never more so than standing in the start funnel of a race needing a pee and wishing I was still tucked under the duvet…
I was a bit speedier than expected on my loop (I know, get me, maybe it is actually working). So had to hang around on a street corner for a bit contemplating the futility of my existence and willing my Tomtom to work – I still don’t quite trust it, and it’s been tardy picking up satellites of late, and I’ve had two threatening not to upload near miss instances. Considering I’d never even heard of a Tomtom until a few weeks ago, it is staggering how quickly I’ve got the mindset of ‘if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen‘.
Soon enough, I was catapulted out of my thoughts by the arrival of my hobbit friend. Smiling broadly, exuding the outpouring of inner happiness that only a Smiletastic Runner knowing she has a sub-zero in the bag can project. We have been doing this Tuesday Hobbit Hash long enough now that we have our own route, so we started our companionable yomp up the hill, with an accompanying frenetic exchange of news and views – you’d be amazed at how much there is to catch up on after a gap of a week or so. There was the star wars fancy dress party and latest Smiletastic results to be debriefed on for a start.
It’s a lovely run up Whitely Woods, there was a lot of ice in evidence which made the route a bit hairy at times. We had to pause and cautiously slide our way across some of the frozen pathways. There didn’t seem to be so many people out and about as usual, but still lots of interest to amuse us. We resorted to making our own entertainment when I decided I wanted to get some atmospheric shots of a rather fine tree. It began as a serious attempt at artistic capturing of texture, light and colour of a splendidly be-mossed tree trunk. Quickly though we were diverted into trying to get a selfie which captured the majesty of the tree itself, alongside our fine profiles. This attempt was an epic fail, but sufficiently amusing that, possibly against my better judgement, I have included it here. Let ths image be a lesson to others. The perfect and flattering selfie is an elusive myth, the reality is harsh, unforgiving and bad for self-esteem. Much as life in general to be fair. Truth hurts, that’s why so many people opt to ignore it I imagine. A tempting strategy if not always a wise or honourable one…
Having got soooo wet and cold last time out, we opted for a tamer route back. However, so as not to wimp out entirely (and to bag that extra elevation) we did make it up as high as the view point where you can look back across the city of Sheffield. Despite the cold it was quite a sunny day, and the panorama was unusually sharp and impressive. No, of course I couldn’t capture it on camera. It was bitter though, quite an exposed and windy spot up there – and the road was really treacherous, we didn’t fancy running too far along that, arse over tit in an instant, and your bits would freeze waiting for help. Still, we took some extra flattering photos up there as the yang to the yin, or yin to the yang or ying tong iddle I po – or whatever it is supposed to be. Call me shallow, but I think I prefer these shots, posed or otherwise….
So after our photo shoot, we turned back along a bit of Ringinglow Road, but sticking to the verges to avoid life-changing injuries, past the Alpaca Farm (which is looking grim these days) though pleased to see Pebbles the goat, isn’t she gorgeous, and down the footpath past the alpacas again. The sledging slope (is that Jacob’s ladder) was frozen over in parts, so again we were pretty tentative coming down. Then back on the footpath, and pleasingly the fly-tipping had all been removed so that was a good thing, though it would have been much better if no-one had dumped it in the first place obviously.
The final adventure that befell us, was the unexpected discovery of a bunch of red roses, tied to a tree. It was hard to know what their story was. A floral tribute for a love or person lost? That makes it sound sad, but I found it quite joyful to be honest, even if it was by way of memorial, if you remember people with affection then they are still with you in a way. It was a private memory perhaps, but a public display of affection all the same. We eventually came up with the idea that maybe it was left over from Valentine’s Day. A loving running partner of another runner, had headed off to the woods nice and early, and left the blooms by the path for their valentine to come upon them later on. What a romantic gesture! The fact they were still there some days afterwards suggests this didn’t happen, but like the trees with the baubles that appear on them over Christmas I want to think of them as happy things, because they are bright and joyful with an inherent optimism. Nothing wrong with that. In Vietnam there is a day each year (first day of New Year) when people visit the graves of the dead. It isn’t sad, it intertwines the past and the present some how, maybe we could learn from that. Anyway, at this precise moment in time we weren’t that profound we just enjoyed the blooms and writing our own story of how they came to be there and for whom…
So run concluded, miles mapped, all was well. However, the delights of the day running-wise had not ended there! I got home to find a fat and squidgy envelope on the doormat. And it was neither a begging letter from a charity, nor an announcement from Reader’s Digest saying I’d won thousands of pounds (though actually strictly speaking we don’t get them any more – does it still exist?), it wasn’t even an obscure medical journal for the former occupant of my flat who moved out 6 years ago, it was ALL FOR ME! It was … (drum roll), my very own National Trust 10k pink bobble hat!
I am so happy. Generally speaking I shun pink, but for this I am prepared to make an exception. It was kindly sent to me by the National Trust as a sort of acknowledgement of a couple of blog posts I’ve done about the Longshaw Trust 10k. It is my first ever running-related freebie (I’m not dwelling on the fact that I had to pay a £1.50 excess for it because of insufficient postage). I am pretty sure this basically means I am now a sponsored athlete. It feels pretty good to be honest, and I’m sure you can understand why this new possession required another selfie. Indulge me, please. The excessively large pot plant is included because I needed to be by a window for the natural light, not that this has particularly flattered me, but it’s definitely got a better shot of the Trust10 logo. Be pleased for me, and if you have some bobble hat envy, be comforted that you can purchase your own for a fiver. I know, bargain! Form a queue.
As sponsored kit goes, I think it’s pretty good, I might have been subjected to this had I been part of the Colombian women’s cycling team (2014?) – to think I was only saved from this by an accident of birth – oh, and being shite at cycling too? Makes you shudder doesn’t it? Talk about a near miss!
I won’t let this sponsorship deal change me or go to my head (well, not metaphorically speaking, though obviously in literal terms that’s exactly where it’ll be) but I may wear the bobble hat more than is strictly necessary just to make a point.
The End. For today. Happy running.