Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Running in Spain

Running at dawn; Javea, Spain

We've been to Spain!  This has been a nice family holiday and, it goes without saying, a brilliant opportunity for some running in different surroundings.  We went to Javea, about 90 minutes drive north of Alicante.  This happened through the generosity and real kindness of the Pallets; some Christian friends we have got to know over the last year or so.

Late October is a time of year when the climate is just right in this part of Spain, especially for early morning running which as you'll already know is my favourite time of day.  Daytime temperatures reached 25 degrees C most days and this, for me, a little too warm for a long run without water.  Dawn was about 8 to 12 degrees with only light winds.  I ran every day except Sunday. Perfect.

Kindly taken by a couple from Gloucester, also on holiday

One day I had a run later in the afternoon and absolutely loved it, though I was more than a little hot by the time I had scrambled up the hill to view the Els Molins windmills overlooking Javea.  I set off at a gentle pace, well hydrated from where we were staying.  In the above photograph, look to the left of my right shoulder, that's where I started from.  I ran along the sea front, got to the Port and Old Town area and started to climb up through some "des res" houses.  I had a couple of wrong turnings but eventually found a steep set of steps leading up onto the rocky hillside.  For most of the way there was a sort of track heading upwards and signed by some yellow and white stripes on the rocks.  In other parts it was a bit of a scramble.

White and yellow stripes show the way - easily in this bit!
This stretch was hard but the most enjoyable.  I knew I was running well and my heart rate must have been at maximum - I could just tell.  I loved it and as I got almost to the top the path levelled out so the last few meters were fairly easy.  I admired the view, gazed around at the beautiful landscape in the late afternoon sun.  I chatted to a couple from Gloucester who, like us, had only been in the area for a few days.

As I caught my breath at the top, I could feel all those lovely endorphins (i.e. the Runner's High) making their presence felt.  I was revelling in it.  I was also a little apprehensive about the descent - I knew I was much more likely to have a fall or trip over something going back down.  So I took care and gingerly retraced my footsteps back to our apartment.  Everyone could tell I'd had a good run just by the look on my face as I was swiftly nudged, cajoled and prodded into the shower.

This run must count amongst my all time top runs!

Another totally irresistible thing to do in a place like this is run bare footed.  What better way than along the water's edge.  Never-mind thoughts of the opening scene to Chariots of Fire: this was another of my memorable runs in Javea.  Who cares if everyone is watching, who cares if my watch gets soaked - this was a great run to be had.  Not long, just up and down the short stretch of near by beach.

Getting the line right was important.  Too far to my left and the sand was too soft and it seemed like I was running through treacle.  Too far to my right and the water became too deep to run properly.

Every runner should do this once in a while.  It is liberating, exhilarating and almost inspiring.  While I was running and feeling so good, I wondered if I was benefiting in some Earthing kind of way?  There I was, barefooted and in good contact with the "wet Earth" and its good connectivity.  Who knows, maybe I was and it felt so good.

Running bare footed is also liberating in not having to run in a slightly artificial heel-toe action.  This was not far short of running on tip toes.  Not quite tip toes, more towards the ball of my foot.  I wondered if this is how the Good Lord has made us to run.  I thought of the whole discipline of barefoot running and how it must, surely, have so much going for it.  Whether it is those rubbery glove-like shoes some runners use or those lighter running shoes that are more common these days.  I enjoyed this little run so much, I think I might be putting some bare foot shoes on my Christmas list!

This little family holiday has been good for each one of us.  We're thankful because we have been blessed in so many ways, all undeserved but nevertheless we have been truly blessed.  Each one of us has gained something from this holiday.  Amongst those blessings has been good running with all of the ingredients that contribute to that.

Getting back into the habit of running daily has been easy as it was planned and looked forward to.  This morning (back at home) I did a familiar route.  Two things struck me:

  1. How easy it was - I ran smoothly and, for me, efficiently with a reasonably good running form
  2. It is flippin' cold!  Not just cold.  Seems windy, drab and dull.  I'll get used to it.  Afterall, this is home and I love it!

Finally another photograph.  Nothing to do with running (yet).  Just a scene that caught my eye - I love clouds and interesting to see them flowing over this mountain.  Just so you know, I'm thinking of starting another blog - all about clouds.  More on that another time.  Come back soon as I need to tell you about some of the local sporting highlights in Javea and also to enlighten you about the "women who walk".


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