A toothbrush. Lying on the ground on a steep track above Kinlochleven, it catches my eye as I run past in the torrential rain. It briefly makes me think of the summer hordes walking this section of the West Highland Way, tired and pissed off and wanting it to be over. I rapidly discard this cynical thought, and lean into the next gust of wind as I start up the next steepening.
Twenty minutes later, and the track I'm running has given up any pretence of being a path and seems to have resigned itself to life as a river instead. My wet feet are numb, my face stings with the cold of the wind and it is raining so hard I can barely see.
Hill-reps. Jeez, they can hurt sometimes. Uphill fast, then down, then up again faster….repeat. Hillrunning is fully revealing itself as an odd but addictive past-time, in fact the only thing I've known so far that has almost as much inherent suffering as winter climbing.
A lot of the time it hurts, my lungs want to burst and my leg muscles are quietly whispering at me to just stop. It would be so much harder to listen if they were screaming.
Running uphill, and trying to learn to be oblivious to my body's signals. My latest, most rewarding, and wholly unattractive addiction. In the last year and a half it has caused my mind to bend on occasions, and now my body is a different and more efficient thing too.