Saturday, 5th September, Super Saturday Run

12:03pm. After a night at the club where we turned into a debating society of left, right and centre leaning people discussing everything from Covid and the rather worrying official narrative that working from home is the new normal when working from home is detrimental to your mental health to whether the BBC leans left or right which depends on your own political leanings I went to bed a bit tipsy and wondering if I would be ok for an early morning run.

I needn’t have worried. I woke around 3am, the cats snoring didn’t help and after trying to get back to sleep unsuccessfully I decided to go for an early morning run. I got up around 5:30am and had some fruit for breakfast. I went back upstairs to change and a wave of tiredness swept over me. The easy option was there in front of me, go back to bed and do a local run when I get up. The harder option was outside, get up now and do a run over moors and fells I enjoy running over. Despite the temptation to go back to bed I resisted and got changed and headed for Heptonstall.

The drive over was quiet and drama free and soon I was stood outside mt car ready to go. I ran alongside the main road going through Slack and took a left to join the trail to take me to the Pennine Way across Heptonstall Moor. It was overcast but warm, perfect running weather for me. The trails were littered with puddles from the rain of the night before. I didn’t push the pace as I am carrying a few aches in my right knee and right calf and I wanted to warm them up before I started pushing it.

I chose to run along the Pennine Way to the Gorple Cottages as I usually run the other way and I like to experience routes in both directions as it makes you more aware of the route and your surroundings and helps you to navigate the route better as I find you pickup on landmarks that you sometimes miss when you only run a route in one direction. Today proved my point. I found going towards Gorple Cottages harder than running from them! This surprised me as I thought it would be easier but going this way there is a steady ascent to the top of the moor and the trail is rocky and technical in parts making it harder than going the other way which is Yorkshire stone flags and muddy trail.

I was running well, nothing exceptional, but I felt good and I didn’t want to stop. I was thinking about my life story too and the problems I think I’m having in moving it forward. What are the positives? I have a story to tell, quite a few people have told me I have a very interesting story to tell. I can write. So many people have told me I’m a very good writer, some have even said exceptional, so I have a story to tell and I can write. So what is stopping me from writing it? It’s me. Well obviously it’s me, no-one else is stopping me writing it but what is it about me that’s stopping me from writing it? Structure and planning as always. Mentally I’m a lot better place than I have been for a long time and this is allowing me to see things differently and try and find solutions to problems whereas before I saw the problem but couldn’t find any solutions.

I thought about me as a person too. Far too often in the past I have only seen the negative in me and seen failure after failure, everything was a negative. There were no positives. But I do have positives. I have a lot of positives I can draw upon. I am strong, I am tough, I am resilient, both mentally and physically. My life hasn’t been easy and to get where I am now I have to have many positive qualities or I wouldn’t be here. Another positive quality is I don’t give up. I keep going until the bitter end. I am stubborn and refuse to be told I can’t do something unless I try it and prove it for myself. And I haven’t given up on writing my life story and getting it published yet. I know if I can get a foot in the door I can write it and get it done. Someone will be able to help me and get it to a standard where it can be published.

So it comes down to planning and structure. If I can get past this hurdle someone out there might be willing to help me put together a story that can be published. I’ve tried so many different ways to write my story, first person, third person, a running journey in a couple of different formats, from cradle to the grave and each time I get so far and run out of steam. As I ran I thought what can I do differently to overcome this hurdle? I’m going to try breaking it down as much as I can and then piece it back together. I’ve written so much it’s all over the place. I need to get it all in one place and look at it through new, positive eyes. I’m going to create a new folder and break it down into as many different folders as I dare, see what I’ve got and piece it back together. I reckon I’ve got 20,000 words already and I’m hoping that doing it this way means I can fill in the gaps and expand on what I have already written. As the physic who told me my fortune earlier in the year said, ‘don’t give up’, ‘keep going and you will get there and all your dreams will come true’. I am not going to give up.

I carried on the Pennine Way dropping down past Gorple Cottages and down to Graining Water. Here I stopped for a break and took some photos. I like this spot a lot. So peaceful and full of life.

I carried on, climbing up to Ridge Scout above Graining Water and along the trial towards Blake Dean. Climbing up to Ridge Scout is easier than coming down it as I have fallen here and I am wary of it. I had no problems today and soon I was at Blake Dean feeling that I ran it faster this way than the other. It’s of no real importance, I enjoyed the run.

And then the big one. The climb up to Standing Stone Hill from Blake Dean. According to Strava it’s just over a mile and around 550ft and like a lot of climbs around here starts steep before flattening out at the top. I’ve done it before so knew what to expect but I had no idea how well I would climb it. I went through the gate at the bottom and started running, actually running up a fell. I carried on running up and up going past the point where I usually stop and start walking. I did think about stopping and walking but with a descent from Standing Stone Hill to Slack to come I thought I could take it easy on the down. And so I carried on running and climbing, past the wall, through the gate and onto the moor then past the shooting butts and then the trig point was in sight. I couldn’t believe it! I had run all the way from Blake Dean to Standing Stone Hill in one go and I felt good, I felt strong, I felt over the moon! This is what running can be about, showing yourself you are capable of far more than you ever thought you was and I showed myself today just how much I’m capable of.

At Standing Stone Hill the weather turned and the rain came. I didn’t want to hang about and risk getting cold so I turned round and headed back down to Slack over the moor. Even though I’ve done this many times I still get a bit disorientated at points as the trail is not straight and direct but twists and turns over the moor at times making you wonder if you’re going the right way before spitting you off the moor at the right place and so it proved today. At times I wondered if I was going the right way but I came off the moor at the right place and headed for the wall. I was running fast too, fast for me anyway. My right knee and right calf were aching but I didn’t care. I was loving running this trail and I felt that I had energy to spare. I kept pushing as hard as I could, as hard as I dared and I was rewarded with a feeling of intense exhilaration as I plowed through mud and puddles, my feet going cold in an instant, mud splattering my bare legs, me pushing through my limits, loving the feeling of pitting myself against nature and coming through the other side in one piece.

I got back onto the trail and headed for Slack with no let up in my pace. I had energy and strength in abundance, and I was using every bit of it. At Slack I opted to go down the trail towards the head of Colden Clough and run up past Lumb Bank because I like hills and I like climbing! I ran up the short, steep hill back to Heptonstall and my car. It had been worthwhile getting up early and forcing myself out of the door. The run was one of the best runs I’ve had around this area and I’m gaining more and more confidence and getting stronger and better in every area of my running. This run allowed me time and space to think too and I’ve come up with some new ideas to take my life story forward, ideas I might not have had if I had not run. But it is the feeling of running at pace, just in control as you slip and slide over the moor that gives the most amazing, intense feeling of freedom you can ever experience. Man at one with nature.

I headed home, showered, changed and had something to eat. Now to look at my new plan for structuring my life story and seeing if this different approach gives me what I’m looking for so I can take my story forward. I thought about the run Claire and me had planned too. I don’t think I’d have been up to it today. I would have done it to help Claire but my legs would have been wrecked after. Now whilst I’ve got my usual aches and pains I’m ready for the CVFR handicap race and the Yorkshireman Half next Sunday. I don’t know how well I’ll do in either of them but right now I’m full of confidence and running better than ever so I have every chance of doing my best in both races.

6:06pm. It’s no wonder I’m confused with my life story. I’ve different bits in different places so I’ll be looking in one place and then seeing something different in another! I think this new structure will at least allow me to see everything in one place and then I can move on from there.

10:07pm. Time for bed…

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