Monday, 31st August, Beautiful morning for a run

1:31pm. Went to bed last night with a splitting, pounding headache and not looking forward to today at all. I woke around 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep although my headache had gone and I got up around 4:30am, had breakfast and got ready to run. Claire messaged me to say her Achilles was niggling her so could we do a shorter route and could she bring her dog Benny? I said yes to both and set off a bit later than planned to pick them both up.

I arrived at Claire’s and headed straight for the toilet as usual and then we set off for Mytholmroyd and the start of our run. Our intention was to do the Coiners route and I followed Claire as I was unfamiliar with the start of the route. We went through the housing estate and we hit the trail and found the stile to take us up through the woods. Soon we were on the trail that took us through the woods and to the edge of Erringdon Moor.

I followed Claire and Benny up through the woods and came out onto open moorland. We ran a short flat trail before another steep climb took us up to the top of the moor. Halfway up this climb we stopped to look around. The views were beautiful. The early morning sun still climbing in the sky but bathing Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley with bright sunshine. This view alone made getting up early worth it. Views like this do more for you then any tablets ever will. It is the best medication around.

We stopped and had a discussion about which route to take. We both decided that the Coiners route would be too muddy and boggy so carried on to Stoodley Pike and then we would take it from there. The run up here was a nice, steady run. Claire did the sensible thing and followed Benny while I planted my feet anywhere and hoped for the best. At the top of the climb the trail flattens out turning into Dick’s Lane. I felt I was flying on here hardly putting a footstep wrong. Claire was close behind and Benny was enjoying herself running in front of us. We got through the gate and began the short climb to Stoodley Pike. This is one of my favourite climbs and one I usually go all out on but not today. I tried but I had nothing and Claire and Benny went past me. I eased off as there is no point in going fast when you’re legs don’t want to. All you do is burn yourself out and make yourself look stupid. At the top it was Claire’s turn to have a wee so I took in the views while I waited.

I took one of Claire with Benny but Claire wasn’t happy. I could tell by the tone of her voice. I don’t know for sure why Claire doesn’t like her photo being taken. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe it goes back longer and like me she was called names when she was younger and you end up believing the bullies and they affect you deep down and change your identity so you believe you’re ugly and no-one will ever want to be with you. It’s a shame there is people like this in the world who take pleasure in putting people down instead of building them up but there is unfortunately and they have affected me to this very day in a very negative way. I don’t like having my photo taken either.

We left Stoodley Pike and ran on the Pennine Way towards Gaddings Dam and then took a left off the trail and down to Withens Clough reservoir. I have run up here recently but can’t remember running down it. I knew this would be boggy and steep and it was. The worse part though was the cows. Halfway down there was cows with their calves watching us. I could feel them thinking shall we attack them or leave them? Thankfully today they left us alone and we ran down unscathed. I had a good run down here, I felt confident and made the most of it. Claire was a bit behind me but I think that was down to shoe choice more than anything else as I had my Altra’s on made for obstacle course racing and Claire had her Salomon’s on more suitable for trail running. In gripper shoes I’m sure Claire would have been in front of me!

We got down to Withens Clough reservoir and for me it has never looked better. The sun shone off it’s surface and a dark shadow was cast on its right hand side. This was a perfect photo in a year of so many perfect photos I have been so lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to take. This is heaven for me, with a good friend who loves and appreciates nature the same as I do. No words were needed. This was stunning.

We decided that instead of going up the boggy trail to the crossroads on the Pennine Way we would take the rocky trail as it was drier and easier for Benny to run on. I had a wee at the bottom and poor Benny was torn between running with Claire and waiting for me. I eventually finished and was able to run up the trail and Benny was happy that we were running together again and she didn’t have to wait for me!

At the crossroads we had a couple of choices. Gaddings Dam was out as it was too far for Benny and neither of us fancied going straight up to Stoodley so we opted to go down Tear Drop Lane I think Claire called it. I was leading again and the path was never a bit like the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard of Oz except this was Yorkshire Stone and led to Mankinholes not somewhere over the rainbow in Kansas. Claire said we were going too far away from where we wanted to be and I agreed. We saw a trail going off down to London Road on the right and took it, me once again reveling in the downhills something I usually don’t do.

At the bottom London Road is a gentle slope and I slowed down as I always do for some unknown reason and I lagged a bit behind Claire and Benny. We then got to the ascent back to Stoodley a brutal climb of around 500ft in ½ a mile. I’ve been down this a few times and going up was equally hard. Claire seemed to fly up and I just tried to pace myself and not overdo it. At the top Claire disappeared and I assumed she had gone for a wee. For once she hadn’t, however I did. We discussed ways back to Mytholmroyd and with Claire’s Achilles playing up and Benny tiring I said I knew a shorter, flatter way back. We set off back down the trail towards Swillington Farm and the trial leading to Pinnacle Lane.

On here I could sense Claire getting more concerned about Benny and about my shorter route. I could sense her becoming more serious and her gaze was harder too. I carried on hoping I was doing the right thing and the trail was as short as I remembered. We got to a road and Claire raised her voice slightly I suspect because she was getting worried and stressed about Benny and the distance left for her to do. My reply wasn’t convincing and this didn’t help the situation at all. I got my phone out and we looked at OS maps and decided to carry on the route we were doing. The sign for Hebden Bridge made the moment a bit more tense as Claire had visions of us ending up in Hebden Bridge and having to run back on the canal something neither of us fancied doing. I was starting to panic inside wondering if I had done the right thing coming this way and if I had ruined a so far good day.

Thankfully I remembered where to take the stile onto the road back to Mytholmroyd just stopping Claire from running down the hill to Hebden Bridge. The grass path turned to a trail turning into a road and I could feel the tension go and a more relaxed atmosphere returned as Claire realised we weren’t far from Mytholmroyd and a rest for Benny. We made good progress on the trail and road back to Mytholmroyd before turning left over the stile and the familiar to me CVFR handicap route. Here my legs finally woke up and I upped the pace going down as fast as I dare. Over the football pitch I went faster, at one point Claire drew level with me but I had enough left to go up a gear and move ahead. My days as a sprinter have not been in vain.

At Mytholmroyd we were both happy with the run and agreed it had been a great day out. The weather was perfect and the route was a good one despite my navigational skills coming into question as always. To be honest I question them when I’m on my own and often wonder how I get into the situations I do! We hugged and set off back to Claire’s.

On the way home we had a nice chat in the car. I felt the most relaxed I had ever been with Claire and felt able to talk about anything and everything even when Claire avoided a question I was confident to bring it up and say I noticed you avoided and have a laugh about it. It felt like all the facades had come down and the real people underneath were coming out and we were chatting as friends do, saying what we wanted without fear but still respectful of each other. It was a nice moment for me as I’m very wary of what to say to others as I’m fearful of being taken the wrong way or feeling as if I’m being pushed into a corner and I have to say something I don’t want to say or being the butt of someone’s joke. I don’t feel like this with Claire and I think we’re good running partners too. Running with Claire has taken my running to another level and we’re pushing each other but having fun too.

Claire said how she had seen a small house on Widdop Road that would have been perfect for her and husband Trevor, a lot smaller than where they live now. On my runs I’ve seen so many lovely little cottages in rural locations that I think would be perfect for me. It’s what drives me to keep on with my writing and my PhD to think that one day I could live there and work there and my idea of heaven is on my doorstep. I had a chat and a laugh with Claire and Trevor even picking up on some of Claire’s facial expressions, maybe some people I can read their faces, I know when I’m in trouble with Claire and when I’m not! It’s all good fun and in good humour.

Claire starts her new job tomorrow and I’m going to miss running with my new running buddy during the week. We’re hoping to do a recce of the Full Yorkshireman at the weekend an off road marathon. I think Claire is concerned about doing the distance as I am. Neither of us have run that far or that route but I know we can do it and keep each other going. It’s Claire’s daughters 18th birthday party on Saturday too so it’s entirely up to Claire what we do. I’m hoping we can get out even if it’s just for a shorter run and have some more fun.

No-one knows who is going to come into their life, how long they’ll be there for or the impact they’ll have on your life. Some people come and go faster than a shooting star and you know that’s all they’ll ever be. Others come along and remain with you forever and become an important part of your life, making life more bearable, making it worth getting up on a morning. I’ve no idea what is going to happen but right now I’m happy and in a good place with some of the best friends I could wish for, enjoying life and what it has to offer.

Tomorrow is back to uni day and despite my supervisors going AWOL I’m going to plow ahead and do what I think I should be doing for my PhD. My planning and structuring is poor as is many academics so I’m having a meeting with one of my support tutors on how I can do this better and then it’s the CVFR pack run in the evening. A few beers tonight to relax after a great day and I’ll be ready to see where life leads me next.

9:26pm. Been to the club and had a few beers. Had to listen to Pete who makes a fleck of dust seem interesting for an hour at least about fixing cars and shaving doors. I almost lost the will to live. Thankfully he went and I survived so now hopefully a good nights sleep and a good day tomorrow.

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