heels on fire: Day 10

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Day 10

10th May 2006

Some where deep in the Silent Valley, close to Tamil Nadu Border.
Distance 18.5km

We had been looking forward to our trip into the hills, hoping that the altitude, fresh air, and tranquillity of life in the Silent Valley would provide some temporary relief from the heat, and the hustle and bustle we have encountered to date.

On arrival at the Hotel Silent Valley we were greeted with flower garlands, coconuts and big smiles. It was to be the start of a special relationship with our hosts. It would not have been out of place if Basil Faulty’s Keralite nephew had been in charge. We were the Hotel's very first guests - in fact, the hotel was not yet officially open. To say the service was attentive would be an understatement. Dan found himself having to try a number of complicated diversion tactics to slip his personal marker and escape to the roof, for a few precious minutes to work on his tan and blonde locks.

Our day’s excursion to Silent Valley was clearly not one we would be embarking on alone. We set off in convey. Our jeep and the hotel staff’s car were adorned with advertising banners. The Hotel, to their credit, was making the most of our visit to promote their new venture.

The Run
The run itself was a real joy and perhaps the best running conditions we have experienced in Kerala, so far. Running in the hills has its down side - what goes down must come up!. Our running guru, Pete told us not to underestimate the hazards of running down hill. The strain on the thighs muscles and knees can be worse than running up hill. Pete went as far as to say that he would rather run up the hill, I was not convinced, but I was not going to question the man who had got me this far.
There were less people, more space, a beautiful meandering river, fresh air, an amazing mountain and a soothing cool breeze in our faces. We were in running heaven.

Throughout the last two days of running, I had felt my legs were getting tired, taking longer and longer to run the stiffness and aches out of my muscles. Despite this and the fact that I had done over a marathon in the last three days, I felt strangely strong. I think running in the evening had given my weary legs a little more time to recuperate.

Village Volleyball

Our only stop was at a village volleyball game that we were invited to join. After a while, a sizeable crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. After a few friendly introductions,warm up shots and volleys, and we were into the real business. Heels on fire with the help of Peter (number 2) and local hero, Abdul emerged victorious, winning five sets to one. After a quick group photo with the players and spectators, we hit the scenic trail again

Religious Harmony
On the road, we discussed how our volleyball compatriots had a mixture of Muslim, Hindu and Christian names. Different religious groups appear to coexist in harmony. This seemed apparent in every village and town that we had passed through. A little down the road, we saw a statue of Jesus and Mary built directly opposite a mosque. Perhaps, a divine confirmation of our views.

We soaked up all the richness of nature that the Silent Valley had to offer. Late in the day a tractor full of mangoes sped by us. The man sitting on the trailer kindly rolled two mangoes on to the road as they passed. We gave hot pursuit to the mangoes as they gathered pace down the hill and but collected our prized with a few manoeuvres that would have done Jonty Rhodes proud. We ran the last few kilometres with a spring in our step and felt like we could go on forever. In the end, Dez called a halt to proceedings as it was dark and not safe to run. It was the right thing to do but there was no denying our sadness to realise that a very special day of running had come to an end. Our expectations of the Silent Valley had not been misplaced.

Today felt like another big day in my short running career. If you had told me just a month ago that I would run 20 kms one day and then 18.5 kms the next, I would have laughed. It has not taken long to build up the fitness and strength needed for such a run. While it has not been physically painless, I must say the biggest barriers have been in my own head.



At Sun May 14, 04:22:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spectacular photos and great write up!Makes we want to visit Kerala. Keep them coming...


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