Deep breaths synced with my movement. My foot feature left as evidence on the trail behind. A light jog turned trot in the calmness of an autumn evening; the sun lying heavy behind the trees and buildings.The evening times rays shon over my left shoulder, silhouetting a long shadow flat on the course that awaited the light stamp of my legs.
It was warm, balmy. A night that rekindled a childhood holiday and the freedom and innocence that came with it. I tugged at my shirt, a work of sweat sapped the polyester against my body as the famous skyblue of Dublin GAA had clearly become a darker shade. The embroidery cursed my nipples as the damp material sat heavy on my back. Pulling the V-neck forward, I sighed with pleasure as a draft of fresh air liberated my flesh. The effort is the reward.
I looked to the right, casting little judgment on Dollymount Strand. The sight of everyday people seeking solace at the end of another working day had become a familiar one. Some walked their dogs, others strolled alone and just like myself, some challenged the coast at a finer pace by running. The brown sand lay bobbled and used along the beach; footprints and tyre tracks aplenty. An empty black sack sat half buried beneath the sand and an empty milk carton sat upon it rejecting the breeze. I’m often curious how these things end up where they are.
I wiped my brow and powered my nostrils in an effort to win some air. I began tackling the sand dunes in earnest. My favourite part of the run. The sea teased the beach with delicate waves upon the flat land, the tide working somewhere between being halfway in and halfway out. I‘ve claimed this terrain as my own. I know it well. A regular jaunt of freedom since I was 16. The winding track. The vertical impositions of nature. Having already taken to the roads and streets, a further 20 minutes negotiating the varied dunes followed by the gorgeous setting of St Anne’s Park presenting the direction of home.
This is the escape. The effort is the reward. This run never failed in feelings of achievement and goodness, a smile etched in duration and completion on any given night. I never regret a run. In battling the rising dunes and the strands of long grass that obstructed, all thoughts of ambition and desire fill my brain. Great thoughts. Good thoughts. Jobs. Goals. Career. Football. Girls. Writing. Family. Friends. Life. Wonderful.
Towering on along with these meandering pleasant daydreams and determinations sweat spooled down my forehead. Droplets stinging my eyes as one forearm met my face like a hardened sponge; soaking up the welcome residue that matted streams of lengthy hair to my somewhat glowing face. I need a haircut. I pinched my nose to wipe away the beads of sweat that hung delicately below the bridge. Climbing a steep mound of grass and grain I puffed loudly, stirring further my inner emotions of effort and achievement. Gaining momentum against the uphill climb. A regular point of trickiness that required attempts of peculiar dynamics to overcome. Sand filled my shoes; air filled my lungs. I feel tired. I feel good. I feel great. The effort is the reward.