I like reading the running blogs, so once or twice a week I click up the blue page on the WHW site and see what everyone's been up to. Here we are barely out of of January and I've read of folk turning out in the pre-dawn and running long into the dark evenings. Thirty mile trail runs and fearsome snowy hills. Running in crampons on the ice. Two hundred plus miles for the year already. Ten mile tempos at a pace I can just about sustain for three or four when I'm going well. I'm impressed, inspired, but also I have to admit a little envious.
For I have a confession to make; I just don't like this time of year at all. It's cold, dark, and gloomy. Now thirty or forty years ago I used to be able shoulder my iceaxe to spend several freezing hours in a Scottish gully with spindrift pouring down my neck and feel that I'd had a good day out, but these days I just can't face it. Same with running, I get out there and my hands and feet never warm up, joints creak, and the whole thing just feels so well, hard.
Sunday evening my lady wife and I were driving out in the sub zero darkness en route to The King's Speech (a very worthwhile trip, if you haven't yet) when we passed a runner in shorts. Shorts, for heaven's sake! Are these guys macho, or crazy, or are they just on another planet from me? Surely there must be other wimps out there who would rather be enjoying a pie and a pint by a roaring fire?
But then yesterday it got warm; temperatures reached a heady 10 degrees. The sunlight slanted down from a cloudless sky and well past five in the evening I could still see the trail. It won't last of course, but just a glimmer of that winter might be on the way out, maybe not the end but the beginning of the end. Hope so.
(*"If you see her, say hello", from Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan)