Runs around the world #8

Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

My last run in India was in Mcleodganj (pronounced mac-cloud-gange), the place I was in before heading back to Delhi. My favourite place so far; it’s a small place in Northern India where the government of Tibet, led by the Dalai Lama, is in exile. A friendly place, the town is centered around two bustling main streets where indians, tibetans, travellers from all around the world, buddhist monks and nuns in maroon robes, cows, dogs and cats all mix delightfully together.

Although in India, there’s a heavy Tibetan influence with an abundance of prayer flags, maroon robes, temples and stupas both in and around the town, as well as the main streets being packed with tibetan restaurants serving the best momos (dumplings) around.

This was my favourite run here so far. OK, granted, it was mainly because when walking the day before I found a flat route. Well, I say flat, there were still some slight gradients as it’s up in the mountains, but, compared to the other runs I did in India it was as flat as a pancake. And oh, how a flat route made such a nice change. It’s what I’m used to. Lincolnshire is flat. I was nearly bursting with excitement to go running as soon as I found that route, I couldn’t wait until the next morning when I would go. I felt like a kid at Christmas. I wonder if I have a running problem?

Anyway, so, flat also meant I could run a bit longer, as it wasn’t so tough on my legs and lungs. So, I set of with the view of just running as much as I could, no set plan, time or distance. It was a there-and-back route. Not strictly my favourite, and I know some people hate that (Steve :P) but at least I’m not going to get lost. So, I just ran there and back and there and back again, as much as I could until my legs didn’t want to go any more. Because, I’m losing fitness. I’m losing the ability to think (and choose) “I’ll go for a ten mile run today” as I don’t know whether I can. I’m having to fit runs in as and when time, location and conditions allow, and can’t be too choosy. I don’t know whether I can run 10 miles any more; probably not, I haven’t done it for 2 months now.

So I was chuffed to run 5 miles. It was nice to know I still could do a (kind of) long run. Well, longer than 3 miles anyway. I was happy with that. Like I said, I can’t be too choosy so I’ve got to take them where I can.

It was an mixed run. It was great to get out there, and the scenery was just amazing again. In early morning sunshine I ran down the road out of town, the forest covered mountains on both sides of me, sometimes passing monks on their morning walks. I could see the Dalai Lama’s house and the town in the distance, perched on top of one of the mountains like a toy town the further away I got. It was hot though, and I was slow. I’ve slowed down, I can see by my times, which I guess is probably only natural given that I’m running a lot less and shorter distances. But it frustrates me. I know I can, enjoy, and used to run faster, dammit. Halfway in I needed the toilet. Running does this sometimes. Runners will know what I mean. I couldn’t wait, it was giving me a stomach ache and I wasn’t about to abandon the first flat run I’d had in a month. So, I had no choice but to go in the woods. Luckily there are lots of big rocks and leaves. And not many people around. What is it they say? All part of the experience. Not one I’d be wanting to repeat if I can help it though. My legs sure felt the last mile, and it was an effort to keep going as long as I did, but my stubbornness and need for rounded numbers meant I wanted to hit that 5 mile mark as a minimum.

And I did, and bloody hell did it feel GOOD. In fact, not just good but Amazing. Fantastic. Euphoric. Brilliant. You get the idea. In fact, just writing about it is making me smile. You see, there’s no such thing as a Bad Run. Because, even if the run itself is hell on earth, that feeling you get when you finish outweighs it every time. Especially if it’s been tough. Those little endorphins being released are like little drops of magic.

Pure magic.

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