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Friday, 21 February 2014

February, sick and tired you´ve been hanging on me

Yes I know. Before any 1970´s music buffs start slagging me off, I know the 1975 hit by Pilot was actually January. A bit of artistic word play just because I can. You see February really is hanging on me. I couldn´t even manage my weekly report last Saturday.

The reason for this lack of words was due to work pressure. We had a school inspection on Monday and the two weeks before that had been full on with lots of twelve hour days and weekends in school. To say I was not really happy would be an understatement, but not wishing to sound like a miserable whinging teacher I would like to concentrate on the positives from these pressured times. What jewels of training knowledge did I find in amongst the stress of a school inspection?

I was very pleased that I was able to keep my training going and did not take a break. A few sessions were slightly shorter and I didn´t get to the pool, but I now know that if I can keep going during a period of limited time, I can keep following the programme until May 31st and the big race.

However, the most important thing I found out, is that I feel have crossed a boundary line in terms of difficulty and that life will get easier from here. Let me explain. 

On Sunday I was at my lowest ebb. I had been in school all day Saturday and had been in again until 2.30pm on Sunday, the weather had been wet and cold and I knew I had to do my hour run because Don Fink and his training programme said so. The big inspection was starting the next day and I was very close to listening to the voice justifying an extra rest day but somehow I dragged myself out.

Legs heavy with no thought out route, I just followed where they led me. This it turns out was a good move. I ended up after 15 minutes or so near the Guadalquivir river that runs through Córdoba and turned down onto a track near the centre of the city that I was vaguely aware of but had never been down. It went directly to the river side for about 50 metres and then headed west following the bank. The first 300 metres were ankle deep in thick leg sucking mud due to the recent high water level, but after a bit of sliding I managed to get up onto a bank and weave my way through trees and bushes. 

It was at this point, ducking and diving on a thin barely traceable path, that the sun popped through the cloud and I felt a warm glow. It seems a bit dramatic, but I really felt like someone had just plugged me into a new battery and all the non important rubbish I had been dealing with for last few weeks was moved to the side and I was reconnecting with what life is really all about. Guadaquivir is an Arabic word that means great river and I apologise if this sounds a bit like a tree hugging hippy speaking, but it was like the power of the river had been shared, enabling me to see all the beauty around me for the first time in ages.

After the section on the bank I eventually rejoined the main track as it moved slightly away from the river and I raced westwards under Puente de Andalucía bridge towards my favourite bridge, the Ibn Firnas with its huge bird wing shape soaring above the skyline.

The bridge is named after Abbas Ibn Firnas (810-887 AD) who was a muslim inventor, engineer, physician, poet, musician and most importantly aviator who lived in Córdoba. He is credited with being the father of aviation after he covered himself in feathers and jumped off a building, apparently flying a considerable distance. The beautiful curvy wing shape of the bridge is in his honour.

As I neared it, with no one else in sight, the wind in my face, the roar of the water thundering over the weir near the bridge, my speed increased and I felt like I was flying. I paused for a few moments under the bridge to take in the view and uttered an audible thank you, maybe to the mighty river that had let me really see what was around me, or maybe to the spirit of Ibn Firnas and his dreams of freedom in flight.

All good things must come to an end though, so it was with a slightly heavy heart that I turned north, back onto roads, with cars and people going about their business. They probably didn´t notice my slight smile changing to a huge grin as I neared home. I had just discovered a hidden jewel right in the heart of the city and had come away feeling stronger and more determined to achieve the goals I have set myself having found it. They, on the other hand, had probably been shopping. You can´t beat a bit of smug satisfaction.

                                     You can´t beat a bit of mud

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