It's not often that you're forced to stop everything, to take a step back and let things be.
I can't pretend that I've enjoyed the last four days of being housebound by a viral infection, never more than a few slipper-shuffles from the loo. Oh! The glamour! It struck at a fun time too, a week after Sarah and I had moved up to the lovely new place we're renting in the bright lights of Inverness, all our belongings hidden in boxes, clothes in piles on the floor, no local GP, and worse, no bed. I've spent most of the week off work, suffering manfully, of course, and am now definitely clawing my way back out of the malaise.
My day to day life is normally very heavily based around physical exertion and discomfort: my job as an Ecologist means being away from home for four days a week, of which three are out in the field, all over Scotland. We're often covering big distances in the hills or on very rough ground (interestingly, the roughest bit of land that I've ever had the misfortune to try to walk/wade/lollop across is in the Central Belt, miles from any 'wilderness'), or squirming and worming between prickly thickets of forestry to access specific survey points (think of trying to walk through a very tightly planted Christmas Tree farm). We're normally carrying heavy loads of survey kit and the weather is almost never a factor in our plans; rain or shine, hot or cold, the work needs to be done. Then I come home on a Thursday night, sort out my horrible kit and then have three days to catch up with the rest of life, as well as trying to go climbing, training for climbing, and running. I've managed to engineer myself a lifestyle that doesn't really allow room for illness, and the machine just keeps turning week after week.
So when a few days of sickness struck, it was quite nice to be forced to do nothing and an opportunity to have a think about what I want to be doing for the next wee while.
First off, I decided that I was going to pull out of doing the OMM this year. Training has been going OK, and in fact I'm probably in the best form I've been in for a while thanks to a summer of marching up hill with an Ecologist's rucksack all over the Highlands, but I'm just not motivated this year. I've done it every year since 2004, and with Duncan Steen since 2006. Each year we've been getting better, somehow managing to finish in the top ten in the the Elite Class for the last three, but this year I felt like I was entering it out of tradition, because October means the OMM, it's what I do. It wasn't because I was looking forward to the whole race experience. So, I told Dunc, who took it well (he'd replaced me within a few hours!) and I sprawled in the luxurious pressure-free month I have ahead.
So, Autumn is normally running season, and my climbing goes down the pan, but now I'm going to reverse it. The rest of Autumn and Winter will be spent exploiting my new proximity to the North West's boulders and hopefully will see a few good battles on sport projects. In the short term, I'll try to get as much sport climbing mileage as possible as I'm planning to head to Spain for a week in November.
Just need to shake off the last of this vile pox...