Or at least I get it at a different level.
Yesterday, I arrived at Örnsköldsvik. I used googlemaps to give me an idea of an ETA and it said 11:30. Two and a half hours for 11km!! I had myself a challenge. Get to the hotel (an unexpected treat from grandmother AKA Babcia) before 11:30am and include a trip to lidl for some chocolate milk and grapes. The first thing you notice about being near a town is the sudden appearance of a pavement. You stutter in your approach to it, but you realise it’s a better place to be than the road. More industry. The smell of petrol or deisel from cars, occasionally mixed with the over zealous use of deodorant or aftershave by the driver. I ran passed people and all seemed to look with a mix of bemusement and disapproval. ‘Why is this guy… What the hell are those on his feet? His shoe things have massive holes in em!’ Must be their thoughts. Ok, I paraphrase. They probably think ‘he needs a wash!’ more since my clothes are rather pungent.
3k to Lidl… I can see the sign for it towering above the warehouse type buildings. The delightful wooden construct favoured in Sweden long disappeared as more civilised areas are reached and something I wasn’t expecting…
Outside of Lidl is a lady, sat down. Head bowed. A subway cup next to her. She looks up as if to ask something. Sees my feet, the state of my clothes and my backpack. She says nothing and looks back down. I’m surprised by the reaction less than by the fat that she is begging for money. All round the shop I wander what she’d do if I placed the remains of my food next to her before I leave. I get a small milkshake, end up putting other food back as I still have a few km to the hotel, and leave drinking my milkshake. As I pass her the same reaction. Her eyes look as though she feels sorry for me!? I have nothing to give her, so I leave. A slight pang of guilt for my lack of help! Strange. Never had that before.
Along the road, into the main town. Whistling to some random tune, occasionally breaking into some air guitar action whilst running. Google said 11:30, I say 11:25 with a shopping trip. Amusing, since I completely forgot after drinking my chocolate milk that I was racing google. In to the hotel, checked in, bag away in the room. There’s a massive TV on the wall, a giant bed and the room is ridiculously warm. I have a headache and feel like I have a cold. Shopping happens quickly and features heavily on food. Another beggar outside the shop gives me the same reaction as the last. It’s as though I don’t warrant being asked for money. I appreciate this. I have money but nothing of small amounts and would prefer to give some of my food. On my exit, I don’t even warrant a glance, but I’m not sure I care since I’m running back to the hotel. Feels odd to run without the weight of life on my back. It kind of is life that I carry. Water, food, shelter. There’s more to life, but they’re the basics. I grab a few bits to help with the running. K-tape, a bivvy to help insulate my sleeping bag, a thicker foam mat.
Back to the hotel, feeling grotty. 5pm and I’m trying to sleep. 20:30 I’m awake feeling far to warm and sweaty. Repeats 3 times in the night and it’s 5am, an hour before breakfast. 6am I’m at the buffet. 3 plates go by fast! Fruit gets eaten, fruit juice drank and some reasonable coffee. Result. I contact Pete. Normally he’d offer advise and I’d listen but generally do what I thought. Today he asks about me resting. I reply I wasn’t but ask if I should. His reply is yes and start to find places to stay for free. I listen and do as advised. That’s a little bit new too!
Now I’m in for another night, free breakfast and the ability to exchange the cash I have for Swedish Krona. The bivvy will be returned as it is too sweaty. My down bag needs to be dry to allow t to loft. The bivvy, in a small tent will just enhance the damp and probably cause more cold. Now to my earlier comment…
Never did I think that being a runner was going to be more than just running regularly. Not a type of runner either. Not a mountain runner, fell runner, road runner, trail runner, track runner. Just a runner. I never even thought that running would be the way I start to come to terms with myself. I have lived a life saying I work to live, but really I’ve lived to work. Cliche alert!! Running is now more than just running. Meditative movement, self discovery, a way of life & oddly, something I’d like to understand at a whole knew level.
I guess I’m on the right path to do so, but always remembering the one truth about running…
There’s more to it, but words fail me. I have no idea how to put into words the relationship I’ve developed with running and this way of living over the last 2 months. Enlightening would be one word but what does it actually mean in language that isn’t hairy fairy or nebulous (thanks Pete for the word)?
Answer… I’ll tell you later, but neither of us is likely to understand till we experience the same thing