The alarm started it’s increasing chime at 6:30, no light penetrating under the shutters yet. I am pretty good at waking up, looking forward to the challenges of a new day. I train most mornings, a legacy from my triathlon days perhaps but now I just enjoy it. I also find that being fit helps me feel good and makes me better at work, whether it be sailing or lifeguarding.
Today it’s a bit harder though, the chill of a clear night still lingering, trying to poke in under my blanket. I was up from 3 till 5am on the phone, a friend of mine who needed a friend in a crisis. I hit snooz,e thinking I will run this afternoon, after all we have a water rescue training session this morning. Then I realize I am not that tired and in complete autopilot I roll out of my camp bed, head for the bathroom, flicking on the coffee maker as I pass.
Twenty minutes later I am running, stumbling occasionally on one of the loose rocks that litter the shoreline, obscured by the inky blackness. A cool breeze washes over me as I slowly feel my coffee kick in and the shrouds of sleep fall away. I veer left and start up the track which winds up and away from the ocean through sparse desert scrub. What was an almost imperceptible glow on the horizon is now transforming into light, the island of Gran Canaria’s hulking silhouette outlined against it.
The path winds for a while, passing the solar power station and then forks right sharply and up. The going really gets tough here, loose volcanic shale and what seems like a vertical climb. The lactic acid builds in my thighs and claves, the burn feels good, making me feel alive. All of a sudden I am up on the rim of the small crater or Montaña Pelada, fingers of red, yellow and electric orange flashed across the clouds. With my heart pounding still and my lungs searing I descend around the craters rim, picking up the pace. It’s hard going as I try to concentrate on the terrain and not natures light show which is gaining momentum. Montaña Pelada sticks out into the sea, it’s yellow rock contrasts deeply with the sapphire blue of the Atlantic. Half way around I am at the bottom of the rim track, hidden away in a small gully which falls away into a tiny hidden sandy beach. There is no wind down here although I can still hear the whirr of the wind farm nearby, everything is still. Despite my momentum I stop, I can’t help it. The vista is just too good to pass by….. Small waves break on the secret beach, as the water recedes it leaves a thin film of liquid gold, which reflects the ever growing palette of colours thrown into the sky. I linger for a few moments, wishing I could stay, even drop down onto the sand, strip of my shoes and shirt and run headlong into the surf. I breathe deeply…… drinking it in and trying to imprint this scene on the canvas of my mind. I don’t think it could be anymore perfect.
Back to reality, my shift at the station starts at nine and it is already 7:35. I start back up the rocky trail, hoping from rock to rock until I am at the top, above the beach at Montaña Pelada where I have enjoyed so many surf sessions in summer, making the most of the frothy beach break. Looking back I see the sun is not quite up. I pick up the pace again, racing the sun now, I wonder if I can make it home before it is fully risen?