Monday, August 10, 2015

An unexpected delight

Yesterday, I went out for a walk with my mum and dad.  It was a beautiful walk but it took us rather a long time to do and so, with chatting in the garden included, we were probably in baking sunshine for the best part of 6 hours.

When they left I was feeling a combination of depression and hyperactivity.  So lovely to see them and they are doing OK but things were worrying me and I had an evening of sulking - up until about midnight.

I fell soundly asleep at midnight but woke up at 5am choking.  I felt like I'd inhaled some feathers and wet out for a drink of water.  I promptly fell fast asleep for 2 hours, waking feeling groggy and puffy eyed.

It was starting to drizzle so I drove to work, taking my running things just in case.  I was too tired to drive, really, never mind ride my bike.

The day was dull as dishwater and towards the end of it my mind turned to the targets I am setting myself for Bala.  As I got changed I agreed with myself some ambitious targets for the race which sit somewhere between unachievable and going too easy on myself.  I have surprised myself recently so I don't want to under-egg it.

In order to then go on to complete the 3 Peaks Cyclo-cross I am enhancing this plan with some endurance hill climb type training - which I decided to start today with a longer run home via two long hill climbs.  They go up Herries Road outside the Northern General Hospital and from Hillsborough up to my house in Walkley.

My colleague asked how long it would take.  I said, "usually an hour and a half but today I am taking a different route so I don't know and of course, because I am going over Herries Road, I might get abducted, raped and murdered but hey", (at least I won't have to come to work tomorrow - was the insinuation).

I have been ranting this week about people not saying "hello" on the bike path home.  It just seems rude and mainly annoys me because normally people are so nice.  It seems that the good weather has brought out all the people who don't know the rules (or have any manners?).

Tonight, as I ran through Tinsley, I said Hi to four white youths.  They called me a "Tranny" which I take as a compliment.  I am looking quite muscular now, yes thank you.  I thought of threatening to prove to him my gender but didn't want to damage his young eyesight.  I was most amused by the fact that his mate couldn't hear his jeers so as far as he was concerned, his commentary was lost on me anyway.

On the canal I said Hi to a gypsy lady.  She blessed me.  Get in!  Those targets for Bala seem all the more achievable now.

I had a horrid time leaving the canal to make my way through a shopping mall area near to Meadowhall, around the back of the SIVL adminsitration buildings and on to the road approaching Forgemasters.  Just carparks and pavement and cars and crossings.  Ugh, but no pain no gain when it comes to 3 Peaks training.  Finally I was at the aptly named Grimesthorpe crossroads and could start my hill climbing.

I said Hi to an aged Indian man with a beautifully groomed white beard and he said, "Kip joggin deah" in a quiet voice as I passed him by.  I was elated.

So much so that I didn't even notice the scary roundabout (although a pretty blonde lady waved me across in front of her car) and the scary crossing by the hospital.  The hillclimb was done with a few extra breaths and then the downhill was underway.

I ran right alongside the fence, looking down at the brook through Scraith Wood, trying to see if there was any path and, failing that, to pretend that I was in the woods.  Finally a gate presented itself and I ran gleefully along the path with the road way below me and nearly out of earshot before boof! I was prevented going any farther by a palisade fence (a good job since there was a cliff-face on the other side of the fence).

I retraced my steps to find the last turn which threaded sharply up the hill and left me with precious little choice but to scrabble up the near-vertical dusty cliff face in my skinny road shoes.  More than once I thought I would slither back to the bottom but insanity prevailed and I made my way over to the fence line to see where it would take me.

The years had been unkind to the fence up there and it lay overturned, a mess of steel cable and concrete posts.  To further prevent people from pushing cars off the edge onto the factories below, concrete bollards about 3 ft tall and 3 ft diameter lined the edge of the cliff.  A path made its way along the edge, just on the other side of them so I joined it.  Now, running to the smell of milk chocolate and liquorice - one of the factories is a Cadburys Trebor.

I looked out over the sports centre, the B&Q and the towers of Stannington beyond and tried to pick out our house.  There were buildings I didn't recognise and a track?  Oh yeah, the dog track.  I could hear the announcements drifting on the breeze like they sometimes do when we are at home.

It quickly turned into a downhill to be proud of and I stretched my legs, thinking all the time how awesome it will be to ride down... until I got to the 12 steps at the bottom.

I heard the gentle, then more ferocious tinking and clicking of the railway tracks as a bridge came into view then the gurgle of a diesel engine as a train roared underneath.  I just sneaked a glimpse of carriage after carriage of steely ingots being transported away from Sheffield.  Destination and final product undetermined.  It is one of my favourite things about living in Sheffield.  Its core history and how, despite all the odds, it is still functioning as a multicultural vibrant city that remembers its past.

As I am still reeling from the awe of tonnes of steel winding its way into the countryside at 40 miles per hour, my breath is snatched by the dead.  First one gravestone, then a pair, then rows of them - one after the other, right next to each other, spreading back far into the trees.  The moss on the names is bright green, the stones black with age and pollution but the sun shines through the trees in an orange bask.  There are a lot of people here, yet only three are walking.

I take a photo and jog on.

As I exit the grounds via the foundations of the old building and a monolithic memorial stone, I find the river Don.  I get very excited because I have tried to follow the Don home a number of times, only to end up diverted on to the main A61 and a bit miserable.  I only have time to appreciate it a little before the way home takes me onto the road and around the dog track, this time straight into Hillsborough village without even needing to concern myself with the A61.

Within 20 minutes of painful uphill blasting I am home.  This time enriched and enlivened by the lovely people (and "humorous twats") I have met along my way.

Now that's how to wash down a bad day.

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