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Tuesday 20 November 2012

Not Taking the Zombies Out for a Run ...

I’d done a Legs, Bums & Tums class which I normally breeze through, but a combination of a psychotic instructor (she looked very meek, mild and old lady-ish before she started screaming like a drill sergeant) and 250 metre intervals at the track the other day meant that I had been walking like a particularly bandy-legged cowboy. And I thought a nice slow run might shift some of the stiffness.

Decided to try a route through the centre of Rugby called Central Walk. As it was nice weather I thought I’d run the first four miles at a nice, steady pace then let the Zombies (Zombies, Run!) out for a run on the way home. Put a bit of extra green in their cheeks. However, it soon became apparent that there was a touch too much mud around to let the Zombies out...

Central Walk footpath running underneath one of the old railway bridges
It was a cool day and there was still frost on the hedges and banks at 2pm but the ground was fairly dry... until I got to the halfway point of the Central Walk. There was water, mud and floating bits of debris for extra boggy attractiveness. I had two options. Try and Jesus the water or try the floating footpath that someone had helpfully improvised using a railway sleeper and assorted logs and bits of crap that had been lying around.

Everywhere I run there is MUD!
 I took the impromptu footpath and hopped from bit of wood to piece of crap to railway sleeper and managed to keep my feet dry.

I’d taken the dog alarm for once. I very rarely have any problems with dogs. I’m pretty confident and if they run alongside me, I encourage them along so it turns into a game of ‘Run With Me’ rather than ‘Chase and Maul the Runner’. Sometime you just have feelings about things so I took it along. As it happened, I didn’t have any problems with dogs at all. The Central Walk is a popular dog walking route but all the canines I saw were well behaved and on leads. So I ended up trying the alarm out on a seagull (indifferent) and a cat (unimpressed) instead.

Thurr's burrds in thum 'edges!
I got to the top of the walk and decided to run up to the road at the top so it made it into an 8 mile round trip. I passed a group (a herd? a gallop?) of horses and a few cyclists who all greeted me and there were a few cars out but they were considerate and gave me a wide berth. It was a nice, peaceful lane and when I reached the top and the main road I turned around and went back down the hill again.

But ... in front of me, a little way in the distance, was a nice big hill. It couldn’t be more than a mile and a half away surely? I’m sure I saw a footpath sign near it once. Maybe I could just have a look … just a quick look …  

Ooh! A hill in the distance...
 I ran back down the hill – a bit quicker now I had a destination - and over a small bridge. The trees and fields were very pretty and there were sheep in the fields nearby. It was all very still and quiet. There was a flutter in the hedge and a thrush was on the verge with its wings spread out. I bent down to look at it wondering if it had been hit by a car. It looked back at me and opened its beak. A moment later it fluttered back into the hedge.

More hills ... but quite flat ones. Hillocks possibly.
Rounded a bend in the lane and got to the foot of the hill with the footpath sign. It was very enticing, but just too muddy. I might have considered it if I were wearing running wellies (if anyone steals this idea I’ll have 5% royalties please!) but it was just too damp for the trusty Asics 2160s.

I followed the lane round hoping to spot another new footpath sign and wondering where I would eventually end up. It was winding and bordered by hedges which occasionally gave a view across the patchwork fields. I crossed a bridge over a large road and then again over a canal bridge. The canal was serene and still like a picture. 

Came up to a steep humpbacked bridge and crossed over … doing a quick U-turn when I spotted some steps leading down beside it … Ooh another canal! The canal isn’t far from my house so did a quick check on Google Maps to check it was a.) the right canal and b.) the right direction and ran down to explore the new path. I was very well behaved and sent a text saying I had had a change of route and was on the way back … started to take a picture of a pretty bridge and the phone battery died. Bother. So I can’t use “stopping to take a photo” as an excuse to stop and have a breather when I got tired, bored or wanted to scout for a possible wee location any more this run then. 

For some reason running alone without a phone worries me a bit. Not sure why. I always wear a running belt on long runs and I’m well aware that this isn’t the best look for anyone not trying to be a middle-aged American tourist but I like having my phone to hand. I can take pictures, check maps and – shock horror – even make a call if I decide to. Besides it’s a hefty phone in a giant toddler-proof case so it could be quite handy as a weapon should the need arise. For instance in beating slavering Runner-Mauling dogs to death. Or beating off (in a violent rather than sexual way of course) amorous Chihuahuas. Either.  

Canal path was muddy and a bit dismal. It had all been beautiful earlier but the sun was lower in the sky and the light was beginning to turn grey and dusky. The path was muddy and the grass was damp but all of a sudden there was a flash of blue over the canal. A bright blue, like a jewel or a light. I strained my eyes trying to work out what it was.

It stopped on the bank and as I got closer I realised what it was. A kingfisher. I’ve never seen one before except in pictures and it was just as bright and as beautiful as in a book. It was a bird so bright and beautiful I could hardly believe it was native to England. Don’t get me wrong, I love England and am proud to be English. But our birds are brown … and black … and grey. Boring colours.

The kingfisher disappeared and I ran on up the canal path trying not to lose a shoe to the black mud that seemed to be the main part of the bank. The few boats that were moored all seemed to have delicious food smells coming from them and I realised I’d missed lunch exploring the paths. I don’t do Missing Food so I put a bit of extra speed on. 

Got home and used Going Exploring as an excuse to make the most enormous tea I could manage. With banana pancakes on the side. Naturally.

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