A claustrophobic of clanking construction that had apocalyptic overtones.

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon. 
(Pink Floyd, Brain Damage. Dark Side of the Moon)

Everyone should have a streak of lunacy in their human make up, that little bit of crazy and anarchic mischief to nullify the Zeitgeist in our souls. I am working on this.
I've done a fair amount of running already this year but not much blogging. Notably there has been the North Downs map of Africa run with the ultimate lunatic Jerry, The Thames foot tunnel quest with the aforementioned lunatic and a brilliant early spring inward bound commute.
Only notably because there has also been a lot of bread and butter miles in the mud and murk that I've mostly enjoyed but have the blogging potential of watching paint dry. There has been a majority of rote running, hammering at the wall separating unfit and fully fit. Every routine run dismantles the wall a bit more and I'm still hammering away.
So yeah, Africa, what was that about. February. Shit I hate February in Britain. The weather is decidedly not tropical African. It was cold and muddy and I was wearing Vibrams. If I remember correctly Jerry was unusually on time to collect me but then drove some tortured route along roads that seemed to get narrower and bumpier the longer we drove. Off piste driving. I'm sure he was talking rather than navigating. Jumping off we ran East across Libya and Egypt towards the Horn of Africa and then turned South down the East coast. We ran through a huge field with a beware of the bull sign but no bull. I was pretty glad about that because I don't like bulls. I avoid them where I can. We also made a short detour on the bulge of West Africa to visit a signpost. This proclaiming the point at which the Zero Meridian intersects the North Downs Way and the Vanguard Way. Mostly this run was about the love of running in beautiful, unspoilt places, conversation and mud.

The Thames. 

Well this river is a bit mystical to me, it always has been. The Harare suburb I grew up in had roads named after British rivers. I lived in Stour Road but it was the Thames which fascinated me. Jerry has captured the spirit of the run brilliantly on his blog here and the plan for this run was to access the two foot tunnels at Greenwich and Woolwich that run beneath the river. I don't think I was at my best socially, I was in one of those slightly disconnected places and the run quickly became all about sensory overload for me. I love running along the banks of this river and have run East from Woolwich (OK, pretty open) and West from Greenwich (fantastic) but never the bit in between. To me it was mayhem, a claustrophobic of clanking construction that had apocalyptic overtones. We were surrounded by building works and noise. I know this sounds over dramatic but that's how I felt, the sky was ominous and it had a post nuclear feel. I had been listening to Metallica's Nothing Else Matters over and over which speaks of loneliness and separation, juxtaposing the song and the atmosphere along the riverbank during the days immediately after running and being reminded of the slogan Surf now, Apocalypse later led me to the movie Apocalypse Now. In it is the famous Charlie Don't Surf scene where Kilgore orders his men to surf on the river mouth during his attack on the Vietnamese village, a surreal parody of a more innocent era given over to arrogance, domination and jingoistic imperialism. It's all about futility and obnoxious bravado. This is the other face of London, both historically and present. Was our run a case of run now, apocalypse later? It felt like it.
Charlie don't surf and we think he should
Charlie don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Charlie don't surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie's gonna be a napalm star (The Clash)

My sketch of the run.

I woke up to a stunning morning, clear and mild and decided on a whim to run into work rather than from work. I stuffed my work gear into my Inov8 Racepac and set off. It was a great decision, the trails were firm and yielding and all the elements of spring were presenting - birds singing, and even a Woodpecker wood pecking. I saw Daffodils and budding foliage, sheep in the field and the sunrise highlighting the riffles on the stream. It was a relaxed and happy start to my working day and I even had time for 15 minutes in the hydro pool when I got to school. These are the days that encourage me at the end of winter, the early promise that things will be OK and there is a future. Winter is always a struggle for me so I live for and try seize these moments.
I will run into work again.

The Gazelle looks on with envy and feels the pain of being a Buffalo.

  • Monday, March 30, 2015
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Sometimes it just works, there is physical and spiritual harmony and you run like an elite. The Gazelle looks on with envy and feels the pain of being a Buffalo. These are the runs that are far too rare and keep me yearning for more. I ran nine miles yesterday and unusually for me I ran them on the road. I climbed three hills and passed under two railway bridges, I got lost and I linked two roads with a path I've never noticed before. It was raining when I went out, I ran through a small patch of sun and then cloud covered the sky in that dull fashion that only grey cloud can achieve. All these things are irrelevant though, what counts is that my body was in a state of flow. These are the days you live and pray for as a runner, days where you feel as if you've drunk from the elixir of youth and days where the blessings of a benign God are concentrated solely upon you. I often get into what is known as the zone while running, that place your mind goes where you are focused and concentrating and discipline merges with joy leaving you relaxed and alert. I think the longer you run both experientially over a period of years and distance this state of zone becomes second nature, you slip into it without trying. Flow is different, for me it happens when my body just seems to find a place where it desires hard work and produces it without effort, everything seems easy and harmonious and I fly. It's the grooviest groove in Groovesville.
I wish it was always like this.
I saw a quote on a poster recently that said if travelling was free you would never see me. This is the truth, if running was always this free you would certainly never see me, I would be permanently in the wind.