Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Pilgrim's Tale - Day 2

I woke at 8 with my roommates alarm and peeled back the curtain. It was still pitch dark and I felt like I had barely slept. With the benefit of having until 10 to leave (maybe for the last day! ) I rolled over back to sleep.

Rising later I checked the kit I'd washed the previous day. Outside it was just getting wetter so I'd vainly tried to spread it on the bed above. Still damp.

The second day is less glamorous. A piece of sponge cake (which in its simplicity reminds me of the lembas bread in the Lord of the Rings designed for long trips) from the mercardo and I set off.

It's harder work today. The first 5 miles are  tough despite taking them easily. The route is all road but unrelenting hills. None that serious. Just continuous. My ipod shuffle, usually a trusted companion on these voyages, is annoying me so I stuff it into a side pocket. It's the last time it'll be used today.

After 6 or 7 miles I spot a small pony. Tucked in an outcropping between the road barrier and the bushes. It neighs loudly at me. A surprisingly loud exhortation from such a diminutive creature. I have no idea why it is there and no time to figure out. I run on.

I'm getting too deep into my head now. Scenarios running through my mind. I need to divert my attention. I've been plodding until now. Not sure why. I usually plod. Now I run.

I've been passing pilgrims all day. A polite "hola!" and then moving on. Now I'm moving at pace. I pass a gent waiting for his wife to catch up.

"Camino?" He asks incredulously. "Si" I respond. The look of surprise on my face raised a smile for the next mile or two.

I pass the couple from my bunk house who had set off at 8 this morning. A brief hola and I'm on my way.  A German pair she is lovely but has limited English. He is terse with much better English. This trip is showing me how poor my language skills are.

I arrive in Colombres. Pleased. This means I've covered most of my miles for the day. I order chorizo frito - expecting chorizo and chips. I get fried chorizo. Mea culpa. It's still delicious. I use the free bread to break up the strong taste of the meat. An ersatz sandwich. The coke tastes like ambrosia as I struggle not to glug it down.

A pretty girl sits down at the table next to me. She's Spanish and another pilgrim. She's done for the day. I think internally ("It's barely 1pm"). I finish my bread and shake off my jacket, stuffing it back into my pack. Time to go.

It's only 10k to go now. Practically nothing. I blitz the first mile until a stabbing pain in my toe. I now what this is. Shaking my shoe I dislodge the bit of straw. I ran through the straw about 30 miles ago yet it persists. I definitely need gaiters.

My dismissive approach to the remaining miles is rapidly tested. Hard climbs through the villages. This area of Spain is so remote. At times I'm almost running through houses. Afraid of intruding but following the golden arrows that drive me without hesitation.

Just under 3 miles to go. I'm tired now. My legs aren't driving as fast as they were. Hills I was springing up are now a test. I've not walked yet and I don't intend to. From the top of one of the climbs I can see down into the bay and the ancient bridge. The trail leads away though. North for a while until it swings south. It's demoralising.

Finally on the bridge I resist the urge to sprint across. I'm here. Where is the Albergue though? It's usually clearly sign posted. On tired legs I jog through the quiet closed city (it is siesta time) until I find it tucked away.

It's different this time. Yesterday was some bungalows which were part of a complex. This is a true Albergue. They show me to the dorm. No blankets. Damn. The girl showing me around says no problem and goes to find out a blanket. The man running the centre warns me to bring my own. Inside I'm thinking I shouldn't have said a word and just slept in my clothes. If I can sleep on a plane I can sleep on a mattress with a pillow. There's no sun during the day but it's still warm at night.

I read for a while. The convenience of having a power socket by my head allows me to charge my phone. A sleeping bag I do not need ; a power socket is far higher in my list of priorities.

I wonder why I'm staying in the hostels. I can easily afford a hotel but this seems more realistic. The lady in the next bunk shows me her insect bites from a less hygienic Albergue and I wonder if I should reconsider.

Hanging my still not dried clothes from yesterday I head into town. A bottle of coke, a packet of sweets, some more lembas for the next morning and some clothes pegs. I'm tired of fighting for them and they'll be light to carry.

I peruse the other shops. Swigging my coke and scoffing my sweets. I end up on the harbour. It's not beautiful but it's quiet and rustic and I'm alone with my thoughts. I'll head to a bar soon. Drink a few beers and eat the menu del dia.

Up early tomorrow. There's a lot of miles still to cover.

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Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.