Digested read: out and about and I found a stone in Graves Park! I know, extraordinary, there were trees too, but all worth seeing in a new light. Get out there and look about you, there are mysteries waiting to be discovered all over the place if we but keep our eyes open to that possibility.
In desperation, I have taken to googling ever more obsessively about London Marathon training plans. It’s not particularly enlightening, more confusing. However, naive as I am, I do think that my training priorities remain miles on legs and getting to the start line uninjured. In my heart of hearts, even on low morale days, I still think if I make it to the start line I’ll make it to the finish. It might not be pretty, and their may be tears and tantrums along the way, but I will get round by sheer act of will. This is my theory. Long may it sustain me. The upshot of this is that today, I decided that I’d up my mileage even if only walking.
Yesterday, I took on the Monsal Trail and experimented with my walk run strategy (you might call that a ‘fail’ I prefer to think of it as a learning opportunity). I did about 15 miles near enough, about half of which was running, which isn’t great at this stage in the game, but is a barometer of where I’m at for better or worse. Unexpectedly, I got a blister. This is unusual for me, but I think it might have been the sameyness (is that a word? It is now) of the terrain, pound, pound, pound on the feet with no change in stride, it wasn’t a catastrophically bad blister, but I wasn’t going to wear the same shoes again for a few days. Today therefore, I resolved to get back out there and try doing a distance on tired legs and see how I went. Round Sheffield Walk all over again.
I wasn’t going to do a blog post on this, as much as I love this route (apart from that bit with the steps up through the wood, how is it possible for them to be soooooooooooooo steep and never get any easier to negotiate I just don’t know) I fear that you dear reader might be a bit on the ho hum/ I’m actually really bored of hearing about this now cusp of interest, and I don’t want to alienate you any further. Lawks a lordy I struggle enough with finding people to talk to, I’m already in an agony of awkwardness after inadvertently breaching use of skip/ cardboard recycling etiquette in my new neighbourhood. I mean, I think I’ve basically weathered the storm, but I’ve probably had my probationary period extended, but that’s another story for another time. The thing is, that something particularly unexpected occurred on the Round Sheffield Walk route today. Plus a few just generally nice things actually, things worth remembering, just to appreciate the moment and distract me from tired legs and blistering feet. Specifically:
There were these lovely lichen and moss-covered trees, and that one as you go up to Ringinglow through Whiteley Woods and up Porter Valley, the one that has red baubles every Christmas, today it had a heart on it. I don’t know who it is that adorns this tree over the seasons, but I noticed the decorations the very first year I moved to Sheffield, and that’s nearly a decade ago. Whether the additions are in memory of someone, or because the tree has a particular significance I don’t know, but the changes in offerings are relatively frequent, and sufficiently discreet for me to see them as interesting additions rather than vandalism of the woodland.
Then there was the bit of the walk where the slopes are steep and the trees take on other worldly shapes in defiance of the wind and gravity, it is spectacular, couple of photos of that wouldn’t hurt I thought.
And then I wasn’t going to take any more photos because, well, what was I going to do with them all? But then, when I got to Graves Park I found a proper treasure, no really I did. This was the remarkable gift for today. I found this!
It caught my eye as it was the wrong colour for the spot it was lurking in at the base of a tree. I was doing a sort of half-hearted litter pick. I don’t pick up as much as I should, but I try to just pick up a couple of bits of litter every time I go out running, if we all did this, it might eventually make a difference. Quick shout out for the Runners Against Rubbish crew, which focuses the mind on the difference runners can make.
I was tired, but I decided to go investigate, as it was a little off the path, and I found, to my delight, this was not rubbish, it was a gift for the observant, all smiles and good will. Look:
How exciting! Further investigation revealed this to be a special painted rock from Chesterfield UK rocks. Gussies.
How cool is that! I found a rock, hidden in the woods, on my birthday! I wasn’t sure of the rocking it etiquette, should I keep, re-hide, what? I don’t have a smart phone so the googling option wasn’t available to me there and then. I decided to enjoy the moment, take a photo, and leave it where it was for another to find. It was great though. Maybe during the next cold snap I should start painting my own stones and scattering them in hidden places for others to experience the joy of discovery. so me and Gussies stone, we shared a moment, and then I said farewell and skipped on down the path wondering whether to alert others to the find or let it take its chances… I opted for the latter.
So dear reader, I’ve since come home, done my research, and this is how it works
people person! You find the rock, keep it if you want, or re-hide, but to make it more fun for whoever hid it in the first place, take a picture and post it on the relevant rock facebook group. Such simple pleasures.
Chesterfield UK Rocks expresses it like this:
A Guide to ‘Chesterfield UK Rocks’
The idea of this project is to spread some simple joy around our county by painting or drawing pictures or simple positive messages on stones.
If you’re on a rock hunt and come across a lot of rocks, please don’t take them all home with you because there will be no rocks for others to find. By all means take a couple but please rehide as much as possible. More rocks = more finds 😀
but there are UK rock groups all over, including one in Sheffield, Sheffield UK Rocks, this pleases me, perhaps it will you too?
It fair made my day. Rock on people. Although it was a close call between that, and having a fellow Dragonfly Smiley catch me up on my traipse round the Round Sheffield Walk – she was running to my walking – and we stomped along together companionably for a fair old chunk, which was really nice and much appreciated.
I was flagging by the end though, the temperature plummeted, and was that a blister on my other foot now? Weirdly, my actual legs felt pretty strong, it’s my feet that were complaining. I decided to cut off a bit of the walk (I know. lightweight, not listening) and headed out of Graves along the Derbyshire Lane route, which takes you past Norton cemetery. The wintry light made for some spectacular skylines.
and again, another cityscape as I made my descent:
and you know what, wherever you go in Sheffield you’ll see something new and unexpected. Some messages are subliminal, some are in your face. Any guesses on what these two finds are trying to communicate:
So keep your eyes peeled out and about. Every outing, every time, new delights are out there waiting to be discovered. If you can’t find them, you could always lay some for others to discover, or just make the world a better place with a mini litter pick for an extra feeling of inner warmth to match the outer warmth once you get back home.
So, people (and google) keep telling me that what will get you through a marathon in general and London in particular is mental strength as much as physical aptitude and preparation (though I think it’s only fair to point out there is probably a minimum base line of fitness which you ignore at your peril). I can see this, but I also wonder if as a supplement to mental fortitude is an imagination and an appreciation of the moment. Back to basics, my parkrun running buddy who in response to my question: ‘what advice would you give me for my
first ever one and only marathon?’ was, after something of a pregnant pause – ‘just enjoy it, enjoy every moment!’ and you know what, I think she’s probably right, and that that advice will get me through my long runs too. There is always something to wonder at on a run, walk jog out and about even if it is only to wonder ‘what was I thinking?’.
What adventure awaits you next on your doorstep I wonder… go find out… go now! Running is supposed to be fun remember. Really and truly it is.*
Also, Happy Birthday to me.
*ok, well, maybe mostly fun. But sometimes you have to be willing to make your own fun, just so you know.
Someone else posted a picture of one of these stones, on the Strideout group page. I’ll have to keep a lookout when I’m next in Sheffield. Say hello to my great-grandparents if you pass Norton Cemetery again!