For some weeks now I’ve been dreaming running dreams. In quiet moments – sometimes when I run – I dissolve into memories of the pre-dawn drive to the start of the Connemara Ultramarathon. Van Morrison sings, ‘Keep it Simple’ from the CD player and the darkness fades to grey and then to silver
Effortlessly, I feel myself driving, slowly, noiselessly towards the start of that special race. I sink into this comfortable place in my memory and I don’t ever want to leave. For much of this year, dreams like these had remained off-limits. My mind was filled with regret and, ever aware of the potential for destructive melancholy, I stayed away. Perhaps it’s an indulgence that I cannot afford even now as I begin to recover some fitness, but I thrill inwardly, selfishly, hopefully and perhaps vainly that the dream might be made real again.
The darkness retreats behind the mountains and the lakes. The curtain rises and a sense of gentle anticipation fills me as the car ghosts its way towards Maam Cross. I approach Race HQ and the dream begins to fade. The huge room is filled with human potential, anxious conversations, whispered encouragement, knowing glances and mutual courage. The games are about to begin. This is the best time.
I want to be there again next year. I want the dream to stay with me – not to fade, not yet – to be made real once more. My heart aches for the quiet swish of untired legs as they steadily cover Connemara Miles, for the sense of recognition and the unchanging hillsides.
I know in my heart that long after I’ve run my race, these hills will remain, but I still allow myself to dream dreams of Connemara in the pre-dawn.