Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A Sunday outing and a new start

On Sunday Ian, Lucydog and I had a wee outing on The Way. It was a bit damp and blustery to start with but it cleared up later on. Ian wanted to run from the Devil's Staircase to Fort William. Lucydog would have run with him all the way but since labs are prone to hip problems in later life if they over exercise, we decided she would run from Kinlochleven. It was especially poignant when we stopped at the bottom of the Devil's Staircase as the last time we were there was with Dario, supporting him in last year's Devil o' the Highlands race. But mindful of his sister's comments at his funeral I tried really hard to remember how positive he was and how thrilled he was to be taking part. He didn't mind that he was at the back of the field or that the sweeper was almost catching him up. That thought stayed with me throughout the afternoon and made me smile.

Ian set off and I arranged to met him in Kinlochleven at the usual place.

An excited Lucydog is ready to run
A couple of hours later I met them at the Braveheart car park as Ian didn't want Lucydog to run along the busy main road to the leisure centre. As he left us she began to cry as she wanted to go with him. That dog just loves to run with her master.
At the leisure centre Lucydog had her dinner (followed by a huge burp!) and Ian had a shower. When she saw him coming out she bounded across the car park to meet him. I wish I had a fraction of her energy after 13 miles! Ian had a roll and a coffee (followed by a huge burp, then some retching and coughing!)

A few hours later she was curled up in her bed sound asleep
Throughout the afternoon I had plenty of time to think about stuff, especially Dario. He didn't mind being at the tail end of a race, he was just happy to run. This was mentioned frequently on Thursday by those paying tribute to him. I have to say that I stopped running myself because I didn't like being being at the end of a race and was embarassed by my times compared to the other people in my running club. A few years ago when I ran in the NYC marathon someone laughed at me when I told them my time. Now when people ask my time I say I finished.
For the last 20 years I've been surrounded by good runners, sub 3 hour marathons and sub 40 minute 10k. My 10k PB is 66m 16s (and that includes a pit stop at a portaloo!) As Ian pointed out that would now put me in the middle of the field at the Glasgow Women's 10k.
So inspired by Dario (if that doesn't sound too cheesy) I'm going to get back into proper running. I'm not going to set myself targets or aim to run in any particular race, I'm just going to run. And when I eventually take part in a race I'm not going to care if I finish last as long as I finish. But most importantly if someone laughs at my efforts I'll know that it's their failing, not mine. Because I'll just be happy that I can run.
PS My NYC marathon time was 7 1/4 hours!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A million stories

No idea where I'm going with this post so bear with me but I know I want to say something about a man who has been a huge part of our lives for so many years. Today I'm thinking about Dario with tremendous affection and fewer tears than yesterday. I'm remembering all the daft stuff that at the time was insignificant but has taken on a deeper meaning now.

Earlier, I was thinking that between all of us who knew Dario there must be a million stories about him. Anyone who's ever met him has a Dario story to tell. A couple of years ago when I first started this blog, Dario told me I should write a book about my adventures on the WHW. I told him that if I ever did there would be many chapters that would include him and they wouldn't all be complimentary. He just laughed and then would tell me another story ending with 'You didn't hear it from me!'

At the BBQ last month he reminded me about that book and also gave me a row about not writing enough in the blog this year. I told him I'd lost my writing mojo and he said not to worry, something will happen to kickstart it again. I think he went a bit far, don't you?

But my favourite recent story involving Dario doesn't include the WHW. It involves one of his other passsions. Whisky.

Eariler this year, during that bad spell of snowy weather, Ian and Dario had a wee whisky tasting at Phil T's house (just whisky, no food as it spoils the palate). Afterwards I picked them up and took Dario home so Gillian didn't need to come and collect him. They both reeked of the water of life (I think they showered in it!) so we drove up the A9 to Blackford with the windows down. Dario kept thanking me for taking him home and insisted I dropped him off at the Baxter's place and he would just cross the dual carriageway. No way! He could barely stand never mind cross the busiest the road in Scotland. He then insisted I drop him off at the layby near his house so I didn't need to go up his wee road and turn. No way! He wouldn't have been able to walk the few hundred yards. So I stopped outside his house to let him out. It was pitch black, it had been snowing and I let 2 inebriated eejits direct me into the neighbour's driveway to turn.

The short version is they directed me into the snow covered rocks at the edge of the driveway at the front and then the snow filled ditch at the back! I was assured that is why cars have bumpers anyway. Good to know. Unsurprisingly neither had any recollection of these events the next day.

The most recent email I had from Dario was about the Crieff 10k. I was trying to rope in as many club members to help as I could. At first he offered to help and then decided he might run it instead as I had enough helpers. He then apologised and said he would be going a run near Lochnagar instead. Who knows what might have happened if I had needed him to help out on Sunday.

He was always telling me I was crazy for doing Ian's backup, for hosting the BBQ, for organising the 10k. I always told him it was a labour of love and anyway he was one to talk. He would laugh and say 'And?' His last email to me ended with 'ps, you are crazy.'

Dearest Dario, you were a good friend to me and a great friend to Ian. We will miss you always. Thank you for so many memories and so many stories.

Much love

Ali x

ps, you are crazy