Before taking on the four-minute mile, Roger Bannister and his Oxford colleagues most famously abandoned their training to spend three days climbing in Scotland.
Widely considered a reckless decision at the time, in fact that unwise trip unearthed the missing mental sharpness which proved so decisive at Iffley Road in May 1954.
I’m far from certain that the same approach will work for me in the Almería Half Marathon this Sunday, even though I’ve had my own personal kind of mountain to climb this week.
A trip to Scotland with my back firmly against the wall.
Tuesday morning saw me leave for Aberdeen at 4am. No British Airways cooked breakfast or Udny Arms sticky toffee pudding in sight this time – just the bleak vista of a frozen Luton Airport at dawn and once again near midnight. That’s simply how life can be.
It wasn’t a day for training, and whilst I can’t say that the Granite City was sparkling in the January sunshine, at least the day did provide a couple of chilly hours to walk around the town.
From the elegance of Carden Place, we walked back along the grandeur of Union Street. And then, as the light began to fade, it was fittingly my old favourite running route to Footdee which offered another stroll to fill the time before a taxi back to Dyce.
From Guild Street, out beside the docks, past the offshore supply vessels, all the moored-up tugs and drilling mud silos, eventually to reach the unlit gastronomic oasis of the Silver Darling.
Here, hard left before the North Sea at the new Coastguard Tower, lies the tiny community of Footdee, my favourite undiscovered jewel of Aberdeen.
Hiding, lurking and crouching still behind the seawall, she welcomed us amidst our tide of change, offering a welcome respite between the grey and chilly breakers and the brashness of Beach Boulevard.
I’ve had better days than this, for sure, but it was still a pleasure to catch up with my old friend Footdee.
She stands there proudly, with her back against the wall. Perhaps I understand her now – because this week, so did I.
And now to Spain and Almería. So pick it up amongst the wreckage, and start again. Because there’s a lifetime still left to run.
132. Newburgh – an Aberdeenshire morning
106. A Highland reel – Pitlochry, Perthshire
6. Edinburgh – Scotland’s finest
Nice to read about Fittie again and with some photographs. A school friend of mine lived there, so I am familiar with the area. Granite can look gey dreich when there’s no sun, but it’s solid!
Thanks, SH, and I appreciate you dropping by.
The Aberdeen granite is grand – and as a geologist, solid rock always does get my vote …
Thanks as always. Here’s hoping Almeria went well.
Thank you very much, Ed.
I’m safely back from the winter storms of southern Spain with time for just a brief update today.
Almeria offered a memorable if decidedly soggy and bluistery welcome this time, and my plodders’ 2 hour target finally fell by just 3 seconds in what proved to be a breathless finish in the Estadio Mediterraneo.
I’ll download my camera and post some race info shortly.