We runners are a sensitive, artistic lot. Even while pounding the streets and burning up tar, I still keep my head up and appreciate the world around me.
(After all, my first youthful epiphany with Art probably came on the bus home from an underage athletics competition.)
My run tonight was more scenic and spectacular than you would expect in a city like Dublin.
After a few days of almost incessant cloud and drizzle, tonight was clear and crisp. A full moon shone so brightly that it dazzled me to look directly at it, and stars dotted the rest of the night sky.
I turned off from the busy road full of commuters driving home, and headed along the river towards Orwell Park. The recent rain and floods had left the river full, but now a lot calmer.
Just after the weir near Orwell Park, two swans glided placidly up the river and under the overhanging branches of trees. The bright moonlight illuminated them like ballerinas in a spotlight.
I looked up at the moon and suddenly I saw something blaze across the sky. It was a shooting star! Butterscotch in colour, it passed to the left of the moon and broke into two pieces before fizzling out.
Even if it was just a piece of space junk burning up on re-entering the atmosphere, that’s cool too. I’d never seen something like that before.
On I ran, along the river towards Milltown. Instead of staying at street level and having to cross the busy junction at the Dundrum Road, I went down to the riverside tarmac path that passes under the road bridge and tram viaduct. I’d run here in the daytime before but not at night – and so I discovered that there were no streetlights along this path.
Fortunately, the moon caught the white strip along the path and lit my way through the park. With the trees blocking out street light, it was a thrill for me to run in pure moonlight.
Alas, it could not last. At Clonskeagh I came out of the riverside park, onto a busy road, and returned to reality with a bang. Fortunately it wasn’t a bang for me – a car had shunted into the back of a van that was stopped at a red traffic light. I didn’t hang around to watch the drivers swap numbers – other people’s problems, baby, not mine!
From Clonskeagh I headed up Mount Anville Road. At the top of the hill I could look out across a moonlit Dublin Bay. The lights of boats moved steadily and slowly like those swans earlier, out to sea. But I couldn’t stay to admire the view – I had a run to finish.
Turning for home, I passed under the huge tram bridge at Dundrum, which reminded me of the start of the New York Marathon on the soaring Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Maybe one day I’ll run there.
I’m home now after my run. Not every run will be as picturesque and memorable as tonight’s one, of course. It’s best to appreciate them when they happen.