Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ghoulies and ghaisties and lang-leggedy beasties

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

I am still alive. It’s just that this course I’m doing has eaten my life.

Well, that’s not entirely true. But it’s eaten the time I used to spend on the internet doing non-academic things*. Recently, it’s felt more urgent to use my down-time to cheer up J, who’s been going through a rough patch recently, mostly because of a change of medication. We’ve been doing gentle, calming domestic things. He’s painted the bathroom. I’ve made apple pie from windfalls, and banana bread, and yesterday I created the, um, work of art you can see above.

I like Hallowe’en. It’s one of the few authentic Scottish folk traditions that’s still going, although I notice that the guisers now say “Trick or treat!” when you open the door to them. They never did that in my day. I blame cable television.

Mind you, if I’d wanted to be really authentic I’d have carved a turnip lantern, not a pumpkin – but it’s terribly hard work, and they smell very peculiar when you put a candle in them.

This year, for the first time, I’ve really felt affected by the changing season, and the nights getting longer. In general, I enjoy autumn; it’s not so hot, and I like the windy weather and seeing the trees turn. But until the clocks went back this weekend, I was really finding it difficult to wake up in the morning. I’m not a morning person at the best of times, but this wasn’t good at all. Now that we’ve gained an hour in the mornings, though, it’s light (for the time being) and I feel better; long may this continue.

Exercise, recently, has been good. It was painfully obvious that if I wasn’t making the time to go to the gym often enough before, I really wasn’t going to have time once my course started, so I didn’t renew my membership, and five weeks ago I joined a running group. It’s a JogScotland group, it’s free, and most importantly, it meets at lunchtimes so I don’t lose any time that I’d be spending doing anything useful. And I get out in the fresh air while it’s still light.

Although I haven’t exactly been inactive, I hadn’t done much proper running since the Race for Life in June, when I was probably in my best ever form, since I managed a personal best and could run for 28 minutes on the treadmill without stopping (though I couldn’t do the same on outdoor terrain). After three months off, I felt I’d better start in the beginners’ group. It wasn’t too easy to get back into it, but I wasn’t the slowest - probably because I’m one of the youngest in the group, to be honest, but still – and I’m actually enjoying training with other people. I thought I wouldn’t, since I have awful memories of P. E. at school, but the fact that everyone is at much the same standard helps a lot. Two weeks ago we all moved up a group to “improvers” together.

Having the jog leaders set our challenges is helpful, too. When I was starting by myself on the treadmill, I now think I didn’t increase the time as quickly as I might have, partly because I didn’t want to injure myself. The jog leaders have been trained, and they’re all experienced runners, and so far they haven’t asked us to do more than we were capable of. While I’ve been running with this group, we’ve gone from running 12-minute legs to over 20 minutes without stopping, which I’ve probably never achieved outdoors before. My old friends the blisters are back. But it’s worth it to be running again.

So far I haven’t missed a session, except for last week when I had a mysterious pain in the arch of my right foot, which made it sore to walk, let alone run. However, I went out with the group again today and the foot behaved itself, so fingers crossed. Whether I can continue with this particular group will depend on where I’m working (I’m still temping at the moment) but it’s helping me to get over my aversion to training outside, and for the moment, it feels very good to be doing something structured again.

But now it’s late and I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Night night!

*If I usually visit your site, I probably still do. But I might not always be able to muster enough brain to make a coherent comment. I still like you!