Marathon training has commenced in style.
On Saturday, I ran in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. We were in Glendalough for a last-minute mini-break. Fortunately, the storm-battering that was forecast for the weekend didn't happen. We had beautiful fresh weather, with even glimpses of the sun.
Our room overlooked the Monastic City itself. 'City' here means the ruins of a cathedral, round tower, priests' house and a few other ancient buildings, as well as lots of time-eroded standing crosses and gravestones. Magical. All dating back to the 6th Century and a certain St. Kevin.
So my first official training run was a bit special. Across the wooden bridge over the Glendasan River, swollen by the recent rain, was the Monastic City. There, I turned onto the boardwalk that makes the boggier land accessible, but after the recent rain it felt more like walking on water. Three deer wandered out from the bare trees, probably forced out into the open by the fact that said trees were waist-height in flood water.
Along the side of the Lower Lake, there were lots of hardy sheep, and hardy tourists too. The path curved round to the Information Centre, a veritable Hansel and Gretel house, and a much steeper path up to Poulanass waterfall. Always good to visit waterfalls after heavy rain.
Next it was the edge of the Upper Lake, in a beautiful ice-gashed valley in the recess of Wicklow Gap, along the Old Miners' Road.
Now, I know not every run these next 16 weeks can live up to that first one. So, my marathon book. This week's pearl of wisdom is about having an internal locus of control. That means instead of worrying about all those factors I can't control, I should take charge of what I can make happen. And do it.
So yesterday, when it was fr-fr-fr-freezing here in Dublin, and I had a New Testament essay to be working on, I'll admit it. I was tempted to make excuses. But it's always going to be up to me to make this marathon happen. So out I went.
This time, in suburban South Dublin. From the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, it's a skip and a jump to some very nice parkland along the Dodder River. Not that I ever skip or jump the first 'k' or so of any run. Those first 10 minutes are often the hardest. My brain screams that I've eaten too recently, or not wrapped up well enough, or am off my rocker if I ever thought I could run the length of myself.
One great thing about running is learning to ignore the voices in your head that say unhelpful, sometimes quite nasty, stuff. And having an internal locus of control means you can pretty much make things happen for yourself, and not just accept what you have now. Yeah yeah I know. Psycho-babble.
But it works!
So I tried hard to tell myself 'This feels good. I can do this. It's getting easier. I enjoy running. This makes me feel alive!' And I actually started believing my own self-induced hype and had a great run!
And it started to snow! I could barely see a thing in front of me, just the rushy waters of the Dodder beside me and occasional bundled-up figures emerging with dogs.
A second magical run in my first week. And if I'd looked at the ominous clouds and chickened out, I'd never have had that amazing feeling of running inside a shaken-up snow globe.