So the weekend before last I ran the Bolton Community Half Marathon. I ran with these two lovely people. I’ve known the bloke in the blue since I was 7 and the girl since I was 4 years old and I was at primary school with them both. The route passed by our old school which was lovely.
Having lived in this town since the dawn of time itself it’s unsurprising that the route led me past lots of points that held some memory or other for me.
I passed the house I lived in when I was 22 where my loony ex threw all my clothes out of the window into the front garden on Boxing day morning following a row about the laundry basket.
I ran past the duck pond where I used to feed the ducks with my Grandad when I was about six.
I ran past the pub where I went when I got my exam results at the age of 16. I drank five pints and was sick on the top deck of the bus going home. Charming.
I ran past the bookshop I used to work in. That was where I ended up selling a book entitled ‘Your Erogenous Zones’ to a customer who was ordering over the phone and who spoke somewhat indistinctly- they actually wanted a ‘Rogets Thesaurus’.
I ran past my Mum. She was jolly excited by the whole event. One of her friends passed me a mint imperial which kept me going.
So there you go. I didn’t run a pb but I was 20 mins quicker than last year. The course was ridiculously hilly which you’d think I’d have known considering I know the area so well but somehow I hadn’t thought about the undulations much. My knees are still a little achy.
So life got in the way of my blogging recently and I’ve been absent from here for a week or two. I’m currently trying to catch up with everyone’s adventures in the blogiverse. I have at least still been managing to run consistently with my weekly total distance getting up to the 40 km mark. Yesterday, with a half, and a full marathon on the imminent horizon, I decided that I was due a long run so I headed out from home to the top of Winter Hill and back. For a while now I’ve been tired of running in my local town with all its associated traffic, dirt and noise and I’ve been looking hill-wards to escape.
It’s about 10km of steep climbing and 400m gain from home to get me to the moors. I suppose I’ve always had the option of hopping into the car and heading up here but I like the simplicity of door to door running- being able to run from my home and back. It’s taken me seven months to get to the point where I can actually run to somewhere pleasant!
Winter Hill itself holds a prominent position above the town of Horwich in Lancashire. It has an absolutely huge TV mast at its summit that broadcasts across the region. You can see the mast for (literally) miles around. It’s been there all my life and it’s the first thing I look for when I’m returning from any long journey to let me know I’m home. You can often see it clearly as you fly in or out of Manchester airport.
Despite it being a holiday weekend there were very few people out and about. The moor can be quite bleak and lonely. Close to the mast is the site of an air accident from the 1950s when a plane travelling from the Isle of Mann crashed in fog and about 30 people were killed. Some people find it somewhat desolate up there but I like the peace.
Total distance 27.5km.
You’d think that having a change from my normal running environment (which consists of a dirty, traffic-filled post-industrial nightmarescape) would benefit my running. I mean look at this! It’s a Roman temple and it’s in (suspiciously) amazing condition. But even surroundings like this couldn’t get me going today and my legs truly dragged like a seal’s arse.
The risk of being killed by an angry French tree has passed apparently so the park was open. I ran to this Roman tower which used to form part of a defensive wall. It’s a lookout tower so it’s on top of a hill which made my knees groan ominously as I plodded up it.
It used to take me about half a day to get up here when I looked like a man smuggling a giant wok under his t-shirt so it was satisfying to get up here relatively quickly and unscathed.
I also spotted this. It’s more of a grotty grotto than a cave. Does it count? The only thing I noticed in there was a lingering smell of man wee.
This seemed as good a place as any to run this morning seeing as it’s original purpose was as a place where one might go to watch assorted feats of physical endurance. I did three laps then I gave up. I saw no lions.
So I kept my promise and headed out whilst it was quiet and cool. I ran to the park. I know there’s a Roman tower on the hill there which I thought I’d incorporate into a run. Also, having been here in the past, when I was fat and unfit, I wanted to compare running up the hill now with how I’d struggled up the hill back then. However it was not to be. The park was shut and the notice on the gate said ‘risque de chutes des branches’ which even I can work out is something to do with trees. Apparently it’s a risk of falling branches (which to be fair I’d happily take my chances with but who am I to argue with local wisdom?)
So I headed into town which was just waking up. There was only me and the gangs of street cleaners polishing up the shiny pavements- my trainers make a rather pleasing squeak on this surface although I could see it would drive you nuts on a long run. It was good to be away from the hordes of visitors that throng through the narrow streets during the day.
So I’m on my hols in Nimes in France which is jolly lovely. I was supposed to run today but the guy whose apartment we’re staying in told me that the local park had been closed to the public due to dry weather and the risk of fires. It seemed as good a reason as any not to run (and the weather has been truly furnace-like) so I’ll run early tomorrow and if the park is shut then I’ll plod round the town. It’s pedestrianised anyway so it should be fine. The apartment is somewhat unusual. The guy likes his art. The town is charming.