Orgy

Orgy

Friday night and I was still itching to run. I don’t know whether it’s because Marc is working so much or because I feel a little cabin fever but as the day passes, the urge to break into a run increases so by the evening I feel like a caged animal. Friday was dominated by the result of the EU referendum which had cast a gloomy shadow over our household, our family is pretty much proudly European apart from my Dad who bizarrely seems to think that despite his entire family being immigrants that the remain vote wasn’t right for him or us.All of us felt shaken and an overwhelming sense of sadness to be divorced so publicly from our European brothers and sisters. Rather than asserting her pride in her Englishness it made Cleo more acutely aware of her Spanish heritage and it was difficult trying to reassure both her and ourselves that our cultural diversity is what makes us valuable English citizens and that diversity is something that in time hopefully will unite and not divide us.

Marc and I walked heavy hearted on the dull, drizzly morning talking about the implications it would have for our country, our future and more immediately my business which deals with a number of European and US customers and suppliers. We got some breakfast then wound my dad up for a while until even he got bored with the constantly speculative news broadcasts. As the day went on the weather picked up and by the time Marc went to yet another 12 hour shift the sun was shining. I kept pushing the idea of a run to the back of my mind, I’d already run 45 miles this week and it had been a busy week too. But by 9pm I gave into the voice that had been whispering in my ear all day repeating the same word quietly but intently…’run’. I threw on my gear and blasted myself with some more deodorant (in case you didn’t know, I’m a sweaty bastard and early onset menopause is doing little to alleviate the problem) at the exact same moment I heard a loud thud outside which caused me to jerk my arm and head simultaneously effecting the aerosol shot to connect directly with my right eyeball. 

If you’ve never sprayed Sure for Women into your eyes before (perhaps out of curiosity or medical research) let me save you the trouble by telling you it’s incredibly, fucking agonisingly painful. This pain is doubly compounded if you’re wearing a contact lens as it instantly freezes into a solid crisp like coating across your iris which you then have to peel off whilst screaming at the top of your voice (the last part being not so much compulsory rather than involuntarily). After that you think that everything is ok, sure your once milky white eye is now deep scarlet red and twice its original size and it definitely smarts a lot but you caught it in time, you dodged a bullet. That’s when the fire begins. It starts off as a slow heat around the eyelid and gently but steadily progresses into a stinging burn, before long what used to be your eyeball has now been replaced by a raging inferno and you pour every substance into it from water and milk to anything with the word optrex on in your dusty medicine cabinet in an attempt to quell the flames. By now you are effectively blind (I already pretty much was in that eye but that last 5 or 10 percent vision now seemed like CinemaScope) and claw desperately at the fiery pit that was once your ocular cavity. 

After about twenty minutes of squirting contact lens solution into my dilated pupil whilst shouting “fuck me!” so loudly and with such repetition I’d be surprised if the neighbours didn’t think I was having the orgy of the century, it eventually began to settle from excruciating pain into tolerable agony. This I deemed would be the ideal time to go for a run.

With painfully blurred vision I sprinted out of the front door, it was late now, really late and to avoid both the darkness and the Friday night drinkers I’d have to seriously put my foot down. The t shirt I was wearing felt hot and tight and my flip belt kept riding up onto my waist making me feel hotter still. I checked my watch as I hit the first mile at 8.04 and decided to push on and go hard. 


Running fast isn’t really my comfort zone; I know that comparatively for my age and gender I’m reasonably fast on my feet (my comfortable pace over ten miles being around 8.45, my easy pace around 9.15) but I’m no sprinter and I’ve never enjoyed the exertion. For me much of the joy of running is in the steady, sweaty, heavy breathing but rhythmically strong and meditative long run; I like to settle into a groove and spend a bit of time there. Running fast always feels chaotic and disorganised and I struggle to think straight. But there I was, not sprinting by any means but pushing on and at the moments when I felt like I could change gears and slow it a little I chose not to and maintained the pace. By the time I got to the beach I was running hard and strong, nothing hurting or stressing but a good solid feeling that I was hurtling as opposed to trundling. 


The sunset was spectacular and the sky was ripped apart into swathes of deep orange. I paused momentarily to snap a few pics then hit for home. This time it felt harder, the prom stretched out before me with no finish line in sight; an endless shadowy thoroughfare with no discernible termination point. I pushed on but the outward slight crosswind had disappeared abandoning me to hot, tiring stillness as I raced alongside the motionless Antony Gormley iron men scattered along the shore. 


Tearing off the beach I strode for home, aware my miles were now below 8 minutes I could feel my legs tiring and my bed beckoning. After a last push sprint I finished in 48.58 and I smiled all the way home.


6.2 miles done, 1 eye lost, 1 bed discovered. 51.2 miles for the week.

 

Gusset

Thursday and some great news, my biopsy results along with my recent 6 month scans were in and all were clear, no signs of any cancerous activity. Yippee Ay fucking Ay!

My doctor also mentioned how fabulous my arse was, I realise he was referring to the work the surgeon had done on my butthole as opposed to my incredible glutes but still, I know how to take a compliment. He also referred to me as an athlete at which point I began to question the sincerity of the whole incredible booty comment.

Yeah, I like to run but Flo Jo I ain’t. Apparently though you don’t have to win races to be an athlete, you just have to do a lot of sports and bearing in mind I average around 50 miles a week then I seem to qualify. Weird for someone who still doesn’t see themselves as remotely sporty. I waited till Marc came home for a run, I had a lot of jewellery work to get through and a heap of Motherly duties that needed my attention (there’s only so many Pot Noodles one child can eat before they develop scurvy) which caused an iron will to run to suddenly turn into a desperate need to nap.


 Marc has the shift pattern from hell this week and next with two blocks of sixty hours with only a small break in between so his running has been seriously curtailed due to lack of time and general exhaustion. It was late when we headed out and pretty much immediately neither of us were feeling it. Aware that I was in considerably better shape rest wise I tried to keep spirits high but before long we had drifted into a silent grind. About three miles in we acknowledged how tough we were both finding it and decided to cut the intended ten miles to eight. My legs felt tired and sloggy and my shoulders tight. 


One interesting feature of the run was that I’d opted to go commando on this one. Now I’m normally not a devotee of the trolley free trot, there’s nothing more off putting when you’re running than the seal-like clap of an untethered foof. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a wizard’s sleeve down there or anything but I do so like the reassuring containment of a good, sturdy gusset. Anyway, my recent butt surgery has made my usual sports thong feel more like a razor wire wedgie and I refuse to resort to granny pants so my only choice was to ditch the dinkies and let the foof roam free. It was on the whole an acceptable experience save for my bizarrely gusty capris giving me unspeakable chills whenever the breeze heightened. 


The last mile home was a drag, you know the kind where you’re running flat out but getting absolutely nowhere? Yeah, just like that. Effort wise I was running an 8 minute mile, my Garmin said it was 9.27. My Garmin is a bastard sometimes. Eventually it buzzed for 8 and we walked home hand in hand in silence, except for a quiet clapping sound. 

8 miles done and I need a break. 

Bogey

Wednesday was a solo run for me and a very sticky evening, I headed out towards the beach for a steady ten miler nervous about what my hospital appointment would hold the following day. On the way out I was feeling good but the headwind was a bit more brisk than I’d have liked so my legs were flagging a bit by mile 3. 


I’d already resolved not to look at my Garmin so I didn’t get tied up in pace, it was late and I’d had a long working day, I just wanted to enjoy my run. Marc had texted several times so I checked my phone on the run, he’d seen a paramedic working on someone at the roadside near my start point and was worried. I reassured him that I wasn’t yet dead and plodded on. By four miles I had a serious problem; I desperately needed to pick my nose. Generally when I’m running I breathe through both my mouth and nose so now that my left nostril was banked up with God knows what I became obsessed with clearing it. Knowing that it was a good mile before I reached the seclusion of the rifle range I had to put up with it. 


This resulted in the following eight and a half minutes spent snorting, grunting and making the kind of rasping noise that the creature in the Alien films made. Finally I turned the corner to the rifle range and headed to my shaded, overgrown pathway…which was populated by five men in hi viz vests. I desperately tried to find somewhere to discreetly blow a snot rocket but it was no good. I decided to get going and stop at the next opportunity which turned out to be the Plinth of Awesome. Seeing it deserted I ran straight over, sat on the beach side of it and duly emptied the contents of my right nostril. It was a gorgeous night so I moved around to the other side to breathe in the breeze and feel the sun on my face. Just as I leaned back on the curved steps three men (I would say gentlemen but it would be dire misrepresentation) rode over to the plinth and lay their bikes basically on me. I was so taken aback I actually laughed but they paid me no attention and stood so close to me I almost imagined they didn’t know I was there. Bearing in mind this is around a two square metre space on an otherwise vast and deserted stretch of coastline it seemed totally bizarre. They talked loudly over me until I shuffled towards the path in confusion, I briefly considered taking them to task but despite their mid fifties appearance and white legged chubbiness there were three of them on bikes and one of me on foot, confrontation would be churlish. I ran off feeling strangely violated and upset but not before taking a series of photos and videos that they were fully aware of. 

The journey home had a different tone, I felt unsettled and anxious, so much so that on reaching the beach I called Marc just to get a little reassurance. He didn’t answer and I felt a wave of despair creeping over me…until I looked up. There running down the prom towards me was a tanned guy in his unmistakable red and blue running gear and Oakley Juliets, it was my Geordie. Still not feeling completely at ease he had decided to run the opposite direction than usual to catch me as I ran home; sometimes in life you meet someone who just knows how you tick, Marc understands my every cog and wheel. 


We stopped briefly in the fading light, both relieved by the others presence, before I headed home and he headed out to the coastal path to give a few cyclists some Geordie lyrics. Ten miles done and tiredness was creeping in. 

Hermaphroduck

So it’s been a very busy week running wise and work wise, I was planning on shortening my posts about the four runs we did since the 16 miler on Saturday but I have no talent for brevity. This you may well have already discovered to your horror. With that in mind I’ve separated them into four shorter pieces. This is the first…

After travelling back home from Newcastle on Sunday into what looked like apocalyptic weather we headed out on Monday afternoon for a gentle recovery run. It was nice to get onto the canal and enjoy the steady flatness and despite an initial downpour that sent us scurrying back inside like two utter pussies the day turned into a blinder with warm sunshine spelling onto the puddly paths.

As we trundled along I settled into a peaceful rhythm, Marc took the lead and set a leisurely pace which allowed us to chat and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Summer had fully bloomed and the air was thick with the scented flowers of the towpath, that was until we reached Kirkdale where the air suddenly became scented with ass, a nearby recycling plant dumping it’s foul stench onto the urban leg of the run. But still it was gorgeously picturesque with dozens of feathered parents proudly displaying their burgeoning families in what Marc called a ‘Swanvoy’.

We decided to head on to where the locks carry the canal to the docks, a Narnia like haven hiding undiscovered in one of the most industrial parts of the city. This would push us to an 11 mile run but it felt manageable.

As we were heading back I was chewing over the idea of how you become mentally strong in running. It’s a funny thing because most people expect me to be a very tough, plucky runner with an iron resolve but I’ll be the first to tell you that until recently I was the opposite. Despite being a pretty stubborn assed, determined person off the road give me a pair of running shoes and I’d become a whiny little bitch. My propensity for bottling out during a tough run had become annoyingly substantial and so often I would reduce to tears and negativity. It used to drive Marc mad at best and upset him enormously at worst as I’d crumble and dissolve into self recrimination and endless apologies. You see Marc is a tough runner, mentally strong and thrives when the going is hard. I’ve noticed so often in races that his ability to rally and outperform himself is endless, it’s like he came alive in races exactly at the same time as a light switched off in me.

After three London Marathons of underperformance and a Great North Run where I’d narrowly avoided cheating myself out of a sub two hour finish because I lost spirit something changed and it changed after Great Birmingham Run. I’d talked myself into a bad race and given in too easily, I was determined it would never happen again. And it largely hasn’t, my tough runs since then have been ruled by positivity and gumption, when it’s hard I dig deep and I refuse to give in. In races I’ve grown up and I don’t quit when it gets hard, and I enjoy them now, I go into them with enthusiasm and positivity rather than dread.

Maybe these days I have more to prove, I no longer have cancer or chemo to blame when my spirit is flagging. Indeed in the last mile of Liverpool Rock and Roll when every muscle fibre was screaming at me to stop I kept on to the last, telling myself how pissed off I’d be if I walked. Something had changed inside; I was tougher, harder, stronger. It’s possible that my years of struggling with illness has finally thickened my skin but I think it’s more that I’m a really slow learner. So I asked Marc had he always been that way or was it, like me, something he’d learnt how to do. His answer was interesting; in many ways he feels he’s always been able to rise to the occasion, in his words “race day is time to give it all you’ve got, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and to do anything less than your best is doing yourself an injustice”. And I kind of like that, it hit home with me because I’ve finished so many races feeling angry and disappointed in myself questioning the quality of my training when it was my on the day performance that was the issue. He also rather hilariously and honestly pointed out that race day is in front of everyone, it’s fine to fuck up on your own but when there’s a shitload of spectators you’re going to want to look swaggy. The kid’s got a point.

It was enlightening though, not only seeing the differences in our own approaches to running but also in our perception of each other’s mental toughness, each believing the other was the stronger. It was one of those moments where you see deep inside a person and discover something brand new about them. It felt like kind of a big deal, a new intimacy; then we saw a duck that we couldn’t determine the gender of so spent half an hour discussing hermaphroducks and LGBT issues in the bird world. 11 miles done and feeling strong.

Toon

‘It’s undulating, I’m just putting that out there, it’s challenging. But in a good way, you know? There’s only one bad hill and we can walk up that one, that’s what I’d do. I think it’ll be a bit short of a half marathon but let’s not get tied up in exact distances, let’s just have fun’

                           Marc Dobson, June 2016
In case you didn’t know it, Marc is a pathological liar when it comes to running. In all other areas of life he is a stand up guy, honest as the day is long and trustworthy to a fault but when it comes to describing running routes he is a bullshitter of the highest order. In fairness to him he knows me well enough to realise that telling me the whole truth and nothing but the truth about a hill is a bad idea. When we did Great Birmingham Run last year I’d heard about the hill at the end, so much so that it became an obsession. For weeks before the run I studied elevation charts, strategised and generally fretted myself into a complete state. When it came to it I completely lost my shit and ended up walking it, not because it was unattainable but because I had created a monolith out of it in my own head. These days I’m better with hills, Birmingham taught me a lesson and along the way I’ve also discovered that running hills not only makes you feel badass it can also break up the monotony of a flat route. Even more than that, hills make you a better runner; whenever I’m in a race and there’s an incline I silently thank the universe for Tynemouth and the hill of hell it takes to get there. But make no mistake, when a Geordie calls a route ‘challenging’ he is shitting you not. 

It was our first weekend back in Newcastle since we sold the house and we had been seriously looking forward to it. We had filled the two days with a plans to see friends, visit favourite places and party hard. Our chief plan though was to go for a run with Tony Phoenix Morrison aka Tony the Fridge. Tony is pretty much legendary in the UK running community, a brilliant runner in his own right he has dedicated his recent years to supporting various cancer charities. He has completed hundreds of events including London Marathons and countless Great North Runs carrying a huge Smeg refrigerator on his back. A tough, straight talking Geordie he is fiercely proud of his roots and deservedly won a Pride of Britain award. Over the years I’ve had the honour of becoming friends with Tony and it’s no secret that he is one of my heroes, when I’m having a tough run I often think of Tony bent double with weight and still scrapping along and it gives me the appropriate kick in the ass to keep going. 


The King of insane challenges he is currently attempting to run 100 Great North Runs in 100 days a feat bonkers enough for any runner let alone one carrying a massive kitchen appliance on his back. Tony had suggested that Marc and I run with him for one of the days and given that we were due to be in Newcastle we were chomping at the bit to do it. 

Then my butt got in the way.

Despite having run 10k since my ass operation on Monday my doctor had insisted I see him (or he see my bumhole, lucky guy) before attempting to run again. Unfortunately by then it was way too late to make the early morning start we needed to run with Tony. I was devastated. And that’s when Marc suggested we go anyway, we would make it to the Tyne Bridge that day if not with Tony at least in spirit. And so later than planned after an impromptu breakfast of a granola bar and a glass of long life milk (totally unprepared for no cooking facilities we basically brought snacks and booze) we left North Shields ferry port and headed towards the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. 


I love Newcastle, in fact it goes beyond love, it moves me. It’s a place that has called my name ever since I first crossed the Tyne Bridge and it has continued to call me back my whole life. The fact that I ended up with a Geordie bloke was no surprise whatsoever, his love for his homeland and the river that runs through it speaks to my heart. There’s a special bond, a deep understanding that exists between us through our shared love of our two opposite coastlines and the rivers that our childhoods were built upon. And despite the undeniably deep, proud love I have for Liverpool, the place I long to be most and where we will eventually settle is certain to be the North East. So I was naturally brimming with excitement at the prospect of running alongside the Tyne towards the iconic bridge that has been such an intrinsic part of my running journey and indeed my life. Marc had wanted to clarify that it was a little hilly and that although it was well within my capabilities we should keep the pace down to keep it enjoyable. Yes it would fall just short of a half marathon but there were one or two hilly bits on the way out, steep but very short. It was going to be awesome.

And in his defence it was awesome. Well, as awesome as 16 FREAKING VERTICAL MILES ever could be. 

I’ve calmed down now. It took me some time, a very long shower and a large alcoholic drink but I’m cool now. Holy shit though, it was an adventure. We headed out onto an immediate incline which set the tone for the route, passing over the top of the toll gate for the Tyne Tunnel we made our way towards Hadrians Cycleway which would take us through the historic banks of the river onto the stunningly modern quayside of the city. Coming from sea level I knew there would be an inevitable elevation gain, Newcastle is built on some of the steepest hills I have ever found in a city centre and so my rational head told me we had to get up there somehow. We were running against the flow of the river and so edging our way upwards was a natural certainty which I had accepted. What I hadn’t accounted for was the near vertical climb that faced us as we passed alongside the majestic railway bridge. 


Determined not to start walking this early on in the run I leaned forwards and pushed onto my tiptoes to scale the sheer slope that soared above us. My heart thumped despite going barely faster than a brisk walking pace and by the time we reached the summit I was drenched in sweat and panting heavily. At less than two miles into the run I was already laughing hysterically about how nonsensically hilly it was. I felt positive though, despite my knee being a little creaky I felt otherwise peaceful inside and as we reached Wallsend and were able to actually touch Hadrians Wall itself I felt overwhelmingly privileged to be running this path. 


Marc, as always when we run in the North East brought the road alive with snippets of local history and tales of his own childhood so we were transported throughout time to the Newcastle of recent past right through to Roman times. It’s wonderful to run with someone who knows so much and is so passionate about an area that you are not as familiar with and many of the uphill outward miles passed me by in a blur of images as I imagined the Swan Hunter Shipyards as they once were and the river in its heyday (much like the River Mersey of yesteryear) bustling and industrious. 


And it was an immensely beautiful route, the fields were littered with a million bright faced daisies and the pathways busy with cheerful cyclists (yes, they do exist) and morning walkers greeting us with their unmistakably affable, Geordie ‘Hallo!’. The river ran to the left hand side of us below a tall cliff face which gave the whole vista a dramatic and impressive backdrop. As we approached the five mile point I watched Marc begin to look at his watch and then peer around, when I asked him if everything was OK he replied that he may have slightly misjudged the distance. I reassured him that it was fine, I mean who cares if it only turns out to be 12 or even 11 miles? It wasn’t about distance after all and anyway, despite some mega slopes much of the outward run had seemed reassuringly flat. 


It was only when we were still running a mile later and the city still seemed a fair way off did my suspicions begin to become aroused. Whether or not it was coincidence or psychosomatic it was also at this point that I realised my shoes were painfully rubbing. As we reached the six and a half mile point I stopped to assess what was going on with my foot. When I pulled my shoe off what looked like half of Crosby beach fell out and I realised my toes were covered in sand. Although it felt painful I couldn’t see any obvious damage so after a thorough dusting down I stopped being a whiny little bitch and cracked on. But the minute I started running again I knew it was too late, the mother of all blisters was gestating and preparing to unleash its reign of misery on my big toe. I asked Marc how much further we had to run but his replies were worryingly vague, my petitions were met with comments like ‘hmm, not far’ and ‘yeah, not too long now’ followed by a distinct furtiveness and lack of eye contact. The little Geordie bastard was lying through his arse. 


By the time we came off the path and the bridge was in view Marc said ‘how would you feel if it ended up being 16 miles all in? No more than that.’ I looked at him in disbelief then laughed until my stomach hurt because this whole thing had just the right amount of ridiculousness to fit us perfectly. What insane dickheads would do an off the cuff 16 mile run on a sweaty, early menopausal sleepless night and an insubstantial breakfast with nothing to hydrate and fuel them but one English pound? Err…that sounds exactly like us. We ran on towards the bridge stopping for a brief wee break at Pitcher and Piano, our favourite pub on the quayside. We grabbed a cheap bottle of water in Greggs then got our bridge selfie, it felt like a achievement, like one way or another we had made it. The only issue now was that we also had to get back.


One thing I’ve learnt about Newcastle and it’s something the locals laugh heartily and proudly when I say it is this…

There is no downhill whatsoever in the whole fucking county.

Seriously, I have never known a place like it. No matter what direction you go in from no matter what altitude you always end up on an ascent. I swear to God the place is built on a bloody seesaw. What I realised in slow, horrifying increments was that the reassuringly flat sections of the run on the way out were in reality downhill. And there must have been a shitload of them because the return leg felt like one gigantic, constant incline punctuated by massive fuck off mountains. By mile 11 I began to feel a little delirious because I found myself giggling and feeling strangely positive. My toe was pretty much in agony by now and I was having to concentrate hard to keep my foot hitting the ground firmly instead of the left handed tilt it was now naturally falling. I think it was this pain that actually served as a distraction from any fatigue because stamina wise I was still feeling pretty strong. By the half marathon point Marc was beginning to feel it, he’s trying to ignore a metatarsal injury at the moment but the length of the run wouldn’t allow it and it sapped his strength. Served the lying little shit right, thanks karma.


As we rounded off the path and headed into the final, still inexplicably uphill mile everything began to hurt a little bit but I suddenly felt deeply proud of the two of us and utterly triumphant. Finally, finally we reached a downhill section which led us back to the ferry port and as our Garmins buzzed in unison we whooped and high fived each other, we’d just run 16 miles without any plan or preparation and we’d made it. 


But oh god my foot was hurting. For the rest of the day we remained somewhat incredulous, giggling every time we talked about it. I strapped my toe up and we both gulped down painkillers with our pub lunch before collapsing back to the hotel for a nap. When I woke I watched a video message that Tony Phoenix Morrison had posted for me on Facebook dedicating his gruelling run that morning to me and I crumpled into tears.  

Later that evening we met up with our dear friends and took the kids to The Hoppings, a huge travelling fair. Marc and I decided to go on the Stargazer, an impossibly high tower with swings that swooped out to the sides. 

I was half petrified as we were pulled upwards, higher and higher into the cool night sky.


 As we soared around holding each other’s hands tightly we gazed down on the incredible view and across the city that Marc calls his own and that has left its own imprint on my soul. It was scary to climb so high and it took some bravery to get up there but once we accepted the fear and stopped holding our breath we could open our eyes and appreciate the land with all its hills and valleys. 


A climb is always tough, whether it be on a road or in life and some inclines scare us more than others. It’s only when you’ve braved the ascent and stand at the top and can you look outwards and truly understand the road that you’ve been travelling. And even if the onward journey is uphill, so strong will you have grown that your own spirit will tower higher, no matter how heavy the load you may be carrying. 

Hoppípolla


On Monday I had an operation.Now before you start thinking I’m all heroic and inspirational and shit let me just put you straight, it wasn’t brain surgery but a bit of work on my chocolate whizzway. In short, my surgeon pretty much ripped me a new asshole. And yes, I know that being English I’m not supposed to talk about this kind of thing; bum holes are something that other people from other places have. And in general we’re not allowed to laugh about cancer, it’s not a laughing matter, it’s a serious disease. The thing is though that it’s become a type of therapy for me, talking (and especially laughing) about the most gruesomely embarrassing aspects of my treatment has levelled it for me to some extent. And besides, if someone reading this is themselves or knows someone who else is dealing with this kind of stuff too then it might just make it a little less humiliating, a little more human for them. Now that really would be something.  
The operation was cool, a feat of surgical brilliance involving a mesh stent and an enema and the surgeon did an awesome job which will immeasurably improve my day to day life. The downside of it was that I had to have a couple of biopsies because of the whole enlarged lymph thing from last week. Also he thinks I have a hernia. Those things aside though I recovered quickly and the pain had largely subsided by yesterday so this evening I decided to give my shiny new ass piece a bit of a test run. 

The weather in North West England has returned to form and transformed from sub tropical paradise back to our old drearily familiar systems, almost as if the weather had a holiday from itself. The Solstice is fast approaching and with it a summer of festivals kick off which meteorologically can mean only one thing, it’s monsoon season. It’s the same every year; despite our nostalgic tale telling of the baking hot, beach-dwelling summers of our youth, we inevitably end up shivering in a field wearing Wellington boots, drinking Pimms and pretending to like jazz. It also brings with it a billion inspirational ‘running in the rain’ pictures along with people insisting that it’s the most refreshing and invigorating thing ever. These people have clearly never tasted vodka, lime and soda. I must admit though that when Marc went out running on Wednesday as it started tipping down I felt a pang of envy, he was doing something badass while I was just sitting on mine. So when today I was starting to feel a bit more mobile I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get wet.

One of the enormous advantages of running in bad summer weather is that you get the chance to bust out the long running tights again. This negates the need for fake tan and therefore is a miraculous blessing. I headed out with fielding varying degrees of anxiety as to what the run would hold. I’d decided on a 10k; it would be long enough to feel functional yet comparatively short compared to my usual ten milers so as to feel comfortable. It was also pretty late and I had no idea where my pace would be at. It was cool but not cold, the heavy rain from an hour before had drenched the heat out of the day and given everywhere a heady freshness. I stretched my legs out and it felt so good to feel them pick up speed in their old, familiar way. I ran steadily and happily up through the tree lined avenues, their boughs heavy with water that showered me as I skipped through the puddles. The birds were singing furiously and everywhere felt vibrant and alive. Snails littered the pavements and I stepped gingerly to avoid them along with the gullies of water that had gathered along the pathways. As the first couple of miles passed by I was aware I was running at a faster pace than I intended but I was happy enough to let it level out over the course of the six miles. Running down onto the beach I felt my phone buzz and grabbed it to find a happy text from Marc, I briefly snapped a few photos of the hypnotically silvery beach hooded by acres of graphite clouds glowering over a strip of golden light. 


As I replaced my phone in my belt the billowing skies opened and poured torrentially. It wasn’t just a shower, it was a colossal downpour with fat droplets falling in sheets. The walkers on the prom scattered instantly abandoning the pathways for cars and shelter, there was only me left and I was running. There is something both cathartic and hilarious about rain that heavy, as much as you want to be all poetic and shit it’s hard to take yourself seriously with that much water pouring down your face. My entire body was soaked through, my vest stretched and lengthened with the weight of water. I laughed as each interval seemed more tempestuous than the last and was now accompanied with huge bursts of thunder ripping across the sky. The beach had transformed in colour as the sand was drenched to a deep terracotta and the sea became steely and wild. I was now running hard and happy, my lungs filling with air and my arms pumping. As I ran off the beach my Garmin buzzed indicating the final mile. I toyed briefly with the idea of pushing my limits to bring me home in 49 minutes but it would be hard and I didn’t want to jeopardise the strength I was feeling. I stretched my legs out and struck for home hitting 6.2 miles in 50.14. 


On my way home walking I questioned if I could have pulled back a few seconds per mile to bring me in under the 50 and yes, I could have but it was more important to finish smiling, strong and with miles left in the tank. 


I thought about my battleship of a body and I gave thanks for how it carries me through my life with such strength and purpose. I sent a silent prayer for the medics who work so imaginatively to make the best of what I’m left with. As for me, I was reminded of the child like wonder of jumping in puddles, the joy of splashing in the rain. More than that though I remembered what power there is to be had in a lung full of air and a connection to the awesomeness of nature. 


Fate whispers to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the storm.”

The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm.”

Chaffers

‘If you build it, they will come’

Field of Dreams
It was a rest day today and a welcome one too. My throat has become increasingly sore and I also found a swelling in my groin. Whilst experience and good sense tell me that it’s probably a lymph reacting to a compromised immune system and that I almost certainly have strep (Strep and Staph despite sounding like an 80s pop combo are the two main infections that have given me most grief both during and post treatment) it has still unnerved me.  Instantly I have begun irrationally obsessing about weight loss (my weight which I watch assiduously was naturally a little down after a long, hot run yesterday), night sweats (which I’ve had since I hit early menopause several years ago) and fatigue (I’ve basically been a bit tired every day since I was thirteen), all symptoms of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s a common issue amongst cancer survivors, the fear of relapse and it’s my current favourite brainworm. I’ve been told that the longer my period of remission the better my prognosis would be if and when my cancer returned, today is six months exactly since I had my final chemo.


This morning in an attempt to clear my head and since it was my turn I took our border collie, Merlin to the country park that flanks the canal for his morning walk.


It was a heavenly mid morning, the grass was tall and the air was heavy with the scent of orange blossom and yarrow. Dozens of magpies dotted a field in the distance as we edged towards them through the wish laden dandelions and glowing buttercups.


Merlin found a stick and proceeded to lose it every 45 seconds causing me to go wading into the Masai like field dodging disgruntled bees and the occasional lump of fox crap whilst saying ‘for fucks sake’ under my breath a lot.


We ambled for a while, my mind had disposed of its more troublesome contents for the time being and I had eased into daydreaming about pursuing a career as a street dancer or happening upon a pile of treasure. As we crossed over into the next field I noticed that the grass was short and the field positively barren. On the right hand side I could see a clear path cutting a huge circle amidst the stubbly wilderness. As I walked over to it I felt the distinct contrast beneath my feet as they hit what felt like solid rock underfoot. And then I realised what I was walking on; I had found it, I was in Chaffers.


As a kid I had a mixed relationship with sport; netball and hockey were way too shouty, girls would screech at you if you didn’t do what you were supposed to and besides, the potential for facial injury and even worse – humiliation, was high. Swimming wasn’t my forte and despite a clutch of attempts to get to grips with the technique, to this day I can barely float. The only thing left on the sporting menu for a girl in the eighties was athletics and this did light my candles a little. I watched the Moscow Olympics in 1980 with my Dad, avidly following my gymnastics hero Nadia Comaneci but by the close of the games and the excitement of seeing Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Daley Thompson I had lost my heart to track and field. Just before my 11th birthday the Olympic Games were held in true spectacle and glitz in Los Angeles, I was spellbound. For the duration of our two week camping holiday I remained glued to our black and white portable tv with a coat hanger aerial and sang The Star Spangled Banner every night at bedtime. I had fallen in love with an athlete, and he wasn’t just any old athlete, he was Carl Lewis.


My obsession with Lewis along with my irrational hatred of barefoot South African runner, Zola Budd intensified over the holidays and by my return to school, my final year in primary, I was ready to take on the world with my athletic prowess. And to be honest, I wasn’t that bad either! As a tall kid I was pretty quick on my feet and whilst I rarely made the top spot I would usually sneak in around third in sprinting races. As I entered secondary school a year later my enthusiasm was still high and remained so until my mid teens. I followed televised athletics avidly and was a massive fangirl of the new British hopefuls that had rocked up, a good looking, talented bunch of guys including Tom McKean, Colin Jackson, Kriss Akabusi and my own favourite, Roger Black. I was totally hooked, they inspired me to try a bit harder at Sports Day and I was picked for the athletics team. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sporty by any stretch but I was a pretty competitive kid in the classroom and so I naturally tried my hardest in athletics too.


The athletics meetings were held at Crosby Playing Fields, known locally as Chaffers. It was a traditional cinder track with all the proper markings and a real long jump pit. And that’s where my athletics career pretty much started and ended, after a lacklustre performance on the track I was left fielded to the long jump, the PE teacher told me that although I wasn’t fast enough to be a sprinter I was tall and so I might do as a long jumper. I didn’t, I was crap. In hindsight no one showed me how to do it properly or helped me to improve, I was left to sporting humiliation and suddenly my confidence and with it my motivation was gone.


But for the brief few times I ran on Chaffers track I felt like a real athlete and the buzz was incredible. I fantasised about getting a pair of spikes and setting off from proper starting blocks. It was an incredibly exciting experience that must have stayed with me, somewhere locked down deep in my soul for many years. And so I was a little sad today, walking the track that is now nothing more than a narrow footpath leading to nowhere. The long jump pit is still there too, a strange sand filled recess sitting in an overgrown field it looks alien and odd. So odd in fact that Merlin decided to take a crap in it then I had to climb in and scoop out a bagful of sandy shit. Chaffers demise had happened over a long period that I had missed when I was travelling the world, growing up, having a child and watching her grow up. It had grown old and been replaced by a new, synthetic track in a purpose built sports centre in nearby Litherland.

I wandered around the track for a while feeling wistful, thinking about my childhood and what I’d have thought of the grown up version of me. I doubt 13 year old me would have liked the look of what was coming for her if she’d have read the doctors notes.


But that’s just the thing, the doctors notes, the diagnosis, the illness, the treatments and whatever else the future holds for this body are just the tiniest fraction of the story. They’re a side note in what so far has been the most epic of blockbusters. My life thus far has been about so much more than cancer, it has been about madness and excitement and fun and romance. Yes of course I’ve know pain and desolation, I’ve also know grief and despair but I’ve also know massive joy, great happiness and deep, deep love.


The 13 year old me had no idea of what an amazing life she had rolling out before her and of the incredible adventures she would have with the most brilliant of people. And amidst it all, she would become an athlete, she would win medals. She would be a runner.


So I left the track with Merlin and wandered back through the fragrant fields with thoughts of the future. And I resolved to return, maybe to do a little speed work, something I keep meaning to try. Who knows, I might even buy a pair of spikes.

Blobby

Today I discovered that my childhood has been a lie…Noel Edmonds was on telly this morning spouting an unmitigated crock of shite about how a negative attitude could cause cancer. Good one Noel, it was definitely my sunny disposition that got me through the last six years as opposed to aggressive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. I have no doubt in my mind that my devil may care attitude was the clincher in my recovery and not the radical treatment based on years of extensive, scientific research. If only I’d known it was that simple, I’d have just taken Ecstacy for six years and giggled my ass into remission. And as for my dearly loved Caroline, my running buddy Sue, my transatlantic mate Val and numerous others who have been taken from my life – well it’s obvious, they should have cheered the fuck up, it’s clearly their own fault. So yeah, as you can imagine I was piqued by Mr Edmonds and his bullshit (and patently untrue) theory but worse than that I felt betrayed, not just by Noel but by Blobby. I loved that pink bastard like my own child and now he’s destroyed it with his guilt by association. 


I had to run. 

A much cooler morning gave us the opportunity to fit another run in and more running means more food. We briefly considered then summarily dismissed the notion of an extra long run as the temperatures were set to rise so ten it was. We both notice the poor air quality at the moment and coupled with a sore throat I’ve developed over the last day or two I couldn’t get my breathing to settle. Throw into the mix my ribs once again filling with dull thumps of wind pain and I started to feel dread. Like yesterday I tried to regulate my breathing, pushing deep into my lungs on exhalation to try to relieve the discomfort. The steadiness of our pace and the rhythmic steps seemed to help a little and as we turned onto the coastal path we were washed with a gentle breeze coming off the sea. Once again taking regular breaks we took the run steadily and comfortably as the heat soared and the sun peered from behind the clouds. 


We talked a lot more today, I think Marc was trying to take my mind off the annoying slopping and gurgling coming from my gut. We talked about how I felt when I was initially diagnosed nearly seven years ago now, about my feelings now looking back on it all. It was good to discuss it while I ran as the order and repetition of the motion kept my emotions in check and allowed me to rationalise a little of the chaos. At the halfway point we sat on a step and admitted we were both a bit knackered and hungry. With thoughts of bacon butties we headed for home.


The return leg saw my stomach worsen to the point where my breathing became groaning and I continually apologised to Marc for sounding like a wreck. It had become really hot and there were loads of runners like us who had been caught unawares by the disappearing breeze. There was the bloke with the Camelbak who was dying on his arse, staggering wildly into the overgrown borders of the pathway, then we saw the annoyingly bouncy girl who breezed past us with a rather serious look on her face and the red faced lady with her gorgeous dog who skipped and played at intervals along the way. A deep mist had swept in from the shore giving the coastline a strange, ethereal feel and seemed to illuminate the white sky. We plodded along the beach feeling increasingly sweaty, at one point Marc noticed that people were staring at us but I pointed out that our faces were pouring with perspiration so we probably looked like we were actually melting. We also had the pleasure of seeing annoyingly bouncy young girl in front of us so we did what any sensible grown ups would do, we sped up and owned her ass. 


The final mile found us in that awkward moment where you have to overtake a cyclist on a hill, it wasn’t something I felt good about but had we slowed down I think my aching legs would have given in. The last half mile was a tough stretch, a hard slog but it was soon done and we strolled home eager to get changed and eat delicious food. 

My reaction today to Noel Edmonds was so strong I think because he suggested that people, that I, could have exerted some sort of control over cancer and I not only refute that but I’m also offended by it. I do however believe that my reaction to it and to all difficulties in life was then and remains very much in control. And control when you have an issue in your life that makes you feel powerless becomes the most important thing of all. That’s why I fell in love with running, it allowed me to feel strong at a time when I felt weak, to feel invincible when I was daily reminded of my fallibility and to feel alive when my life was limited and in danger. Did it cure me of cancer? Hell no. Did it have any effect whatsoever on my prognosis? Almost certainly not. What it did do though was empower me at a time when I needed it most and I love running for that. 

And of course it’s also made me fit and strong, strong enough to kick the ass of any tiny, bearded, washed up tv ‘personalities’ with their insane suggestions should they be foolish enough to cross my path.

I run this body.

Bummer

A runner’s mind can be a strange and screwed up place. Take for example a dodgy run, much like the one I had on Sunday. Now I may have had thousands of tolerable runs and a fair cache of outstandingly bloody awesome ones but all of them are instantly erased from the memory in the event of a tough one. The spectre of the hot, stumbling catastrophe the day before yesterday was still hovering this morning like a bad hangover and the only way to exorcise would be to exercise.

It was marginally cooler this morning as we headed out together towards the beach. The air quality was atrocious though and within seconds we were both struggling to breathe. We took the pace way down and decided it would be a relaxing jaunt, with lots of stops; it was too warm for it to be otherwise. Pretty much instantly I was suffering from wind again and I inwardly despaired, there was no way I could handle ten miles of what I went through on Sunday. I told myself it would ease off and that anxiety would would only exacerbate it, I needed to relax and breathe. For the next couple of miles I really concentrated on a meditative breathing pattern to control the pain. 


As we turned onto the coastal path we took a quick breather, Marc too was feeling the heat and we were both struggling with heavy legs. A blessing though was that the breeze had intensified somewhat and it provided a fair level of refreshing coolness so we continued with an open mind about stopping as frequently as we felt like it. When we passed through the gate from the coastal path towards our five mile turning point something close to insane happened, I uttered these bizarre words…

‘Shall we crack on and make it 11 miles rather than 10?’

What the actual fuck?

Because when you’re having a difficult run in difficult conditions after a really difficult run two days before what you really shouldn’t do is make your current difficult run even more difficult. If you know what I mean. The annoying thing is that Marc agreed. Shit.

But there was a little method in my madness, it was really only an extra half mile and we were going at a slower pace so it was manageable. And so on we went along the footpath that runs parallel to the rifle range and holy bollocks it was hot, I’d also forgotten it was bloody hilly. My stomach was sloshing and gurgling with every step so loudly it was all we could hear and as it did I felt ripples of pain through my torso. I’d negotiated with Marc that we run .2 of a mile further than halfway as it always motivates me on the return leg, it makes me feel like I have an advantage. Because we live on the coast the final part of our runs always means climbing up above sea level do anything that shortens that climb is preferable. He grudgingly agreed despite thinking me a lunatic and surprisingly quickly it was time to turn around. 

Which is when we decided to make it 12.


Who does this shit? We do! Why? Because we’re dickheads! 

Marc was working on the thinking that we basically only had a tiny way more to go so we might as well, it seemed sensible. What we weren’t taking into proper account was that we were incrementally getting further and further from home and it was getting hotter and hotter. We trotted on and then Marc took a sudden diversion along a shady, wooded trail. I would have normally freaked out at this sudden disruption in my orderly plan but it was a stunningly beautiful path littered and fringed with pine needles. It was cool, dark and soft underfoot and I could have run on it all day. All too soon we turned back onto our own path amidst the cornfields and it was time to turn. My ribs hurt badly, the wind in them felt like it was stopping me from taking a full breath. Marc offered to help and I was grateful. He put his arms gently around my waist and made a loose fist with his hands nestling it under my ribs. He then squeezing and pushed me forward rocking gently so as to try to force the wind to move and you can totally see where I’m going with this…

Suddenly, and yet predictably, this deserted farmland path became the most popular tourist spot in the Northern Hemisphere and around 14 individuals witnessed what they thought was an act of carnal perversion in Lycra. A passing cyclist shouted ‘Now Now! We’ll have none of that here!’ but we were laughing too hard to respond sensibly. We gooned around, took some pics then headed for home. 

On the way back the breeze was behind us and my legs began to feel dreadfully fatigued but we remained cheerful. As two gentleman cyclists came towards us we trilled happy hellos but I was taken off guard by a cyclist that screeched to a halt so close behind he actually made contact with my leg. Now I’m a very peaceable person and I pretty much avoid conflict at all costs but this asshole really scared me, so I swore loudly, and I blasphemed and as a person of faith I’m pretty confident that God would have had the shits with him too. 


We stopped momentarily to assess any damage ( there was none as I’m a massive drama queen) and then continued which was when we both realised we were terminally thirsty. Marc had £2 in his belt so we headed to the corner shop in Hightown resolving to save half of it in case we needed further refreshment at the beach, we still had around 5 miles to go. It was also at this point that I discovered that light grey running tights are a very bad move in this kind of weather. Heat and humidity equals perspiration in the most delicate of places and light grey hides nothing. Yes, I had an incredibly sweaty arse and I was openly advertising it to anyone who came near. But I’d given up on vanity about three miles back, I just wanted a drink.


Now I know there’s a lot of talk about correct nutrition and hydration methods including gels, beetroot, chia seeds and all that crap but let me tell you there’s nothing quite as welcome when you’re knackered than a warm double decker and a bottle of cheap, sugary isotonic shit. We sat in the village square and gobbed mouthfuls of claggy filth, swilling it down with what was essentially liquid sugar. Mo Farah could learn a lot from us two I’ll tell you. 


And it worked, my stomach largely settled and we felt revitalised pretty much straight away. If I’d had known this before I’d have stopped arseing around with Lucozade in London Marathon and had a Twix and a bottle of Vimto instead. Continuing on the coastal path we took small, short breaks until we reached our final mile with aching legs. We grabbed a quick fruit shoot from the ice cream van and then pushed on upwards for home. We finished halfway up the incline that normally hurts like hell and I felt elated and proud. And very, very hot. Twelve unplanned miles and a touch of indecent exposure. Win.

It’s always been our way, when a run kicks us in the ass our response has been to get out there and kick it back and when we can’t fight back with speed we’ll do it with endurance. 


Today we took the pace down and dialled the mileage up, not too much, just enough to make it count. And it’s a good thing to do because it restores your confidence and reminds you what you can do instead of what you can’t. 

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. 

Melon

‘It’s called summer. Have a Solero and shut the fuck up.’
Peter Kay


Let me start by saying that I love summer. I absolutely love the heat and would take 30 degrees in the shade every damn day over any other kind of weather. I’m a hothouse flower by nature and readjusting to the British weather after life in Spain is still after 11 years an ongoing process. 

However…I don’t run well in the blistering heat, no one really does I guess and so today’s run was an ass crack of an escapade of gargantuan proportions. It began with numerous warnings from every family member, even my mum who typically doesn’t turn the heating off unless an official state of emergency has been declared had insisted I was dicing with certain death. My dad had come in from walking the dog (you may have guessed we’re currently crashing at my folks place until we find a house here in Liverpool) visibly heat fatigued and gasping, Marc had texted me amidst his run telling me he was dying and to be very careful. And they had a point, cancer although now banished has left my body pretty scarred both visibly and unseen; I’m half deaf, half blind and my reflexes, balance and memory are significantly diminished. I was in chemo for six long years and even my most brilliant doctors tell me that they’re not totally sure of what to expect, I am a work in progress or an unexploded bomb, maybe both. Perhaps the most significant legacy is that I now have congestive heart failure and although I largely avoid the issue because it generally doesn’t impact on my life that much there are times I cannot ignore it and running in intense heat is not on the list of recommended activities.

But I’m an idiot and I never learn. 

So out I went, a mad dog and Englishwoman into the midday sun. It was 25 degrees with virtually no breeze, Marc had told me the worst part of my run would be the way out and to keep it slow. As the first mile ticked off I felt remarkably good, yes it was swelteringly hot but there was a light breeze and I was very lightly dressed. I glanced at my Garmin and it showed 8.45 which was around a minute faster than I’d planned, ah well, it’s nice when things go better than you think they will! I continued on, careful not to speed up, to the point where I was consciously making myself run slower but by mile two my pace had quickened slightly and I began to think that either the weather had changed or my loved ones were all full of reactionary bullshit. 


Then I turned the corner at the beach and the breeze fell behind me…

Within seconds the back of my neck felt painfully hot and my legs became boulders. My mouth suddenly dried to a crisp and I began frantically licking my lips which must have made me appear like some sort of lascivious running pervert. Then as is customary when the going gets really tough I began to make death noises; those deep, hopeless groans of exhalation that signify you are having the shit run from hell and you know it. From that moment onwards I was pretty much lost, I scrambled along spraying copious perspiration across less than thankful beach revellers whilst shouting increasingly desperate hellos and thank yous as they leapt to avoid the sweaty, wheezing neon-footed monster that was wildly staggering towards them. I was beginning to feel a bit disorientated and pretty damn weird. At 3 and a half miles I threw myself on the grass and debated throwing myself off the cliff edge, resisting for only two reasons.



1. The drop is less than five feet so rather than eternal rest I would most likely be granted a slightly sprained ankle.

2. I couldn’t be arsed walking to the cliff edge as it was at least 20 feet away.

Things were not going as tickety boo as I’d initially predicted. I texted Marc for some sage advice but he replied with a joke about a dinosaur so I resolved that instead of killing myself I’d get more satisfaction from killing him. After a few minutes I dragged myself to my feet and plodded determinedly to the gate leading off the coastal path. I stopped again to read a more supportive, less insane text from Marc and then considered the plausibility of going the other mile I needed to get me to the 5 mile point. As I did I heard a friendly ‘hallo’ from a lady across the road, she told me that she often watched me (and Marc) run past her house. I gabbled some utterly pointless crap about debating whether to settle for 8 miles or try for ten. She looked me up and down and with concerned eyes said ‘go home love’. 

So I did. 

As I turned for home I was hit by a very steady and contrastingly cold breeze and I thanked every known deity for providing it. Pushing along the coastal path it was far gustier than I’d expected but by now I was struggling with a different kind of wind. As I’ve mentioned before another cancer gift had been the near destruction of my gastro intestinal system leaving me with a variety of ass issues and a stomach so temperamental the tiniest tweak can leave me three days in bed. Wind is a major problem for me and yes, it can be hilarious being able to fart on demand (I’m such a catch) but in general it is gut wrenchingly painful and can destroy a run in a breath. The other problem is that it can manifest itself as the pain associated with a heart condition. As I ran increasingly slowly along the path I felt sharp pain under my ribs, in my shoulder and across my back. Not little bubbly gas pain but big knife like stabs between my shoulder blades and across my abdomen and I began to worry. Reaching five miles I had to stop so I sat at the edge of the coastal path, made a fist with my hand and pushed it up under my ribs whilst I tucked my bent knees to my chest. In slow degrees I could feel a little movement as my stomach muscles relaxed the vice grip slightly, just at that moment a group of young boys came hurtling past on bikes, one of them shouted ‘Hi Miss Lopez!’ and I recognised him as Ted, an awesome Year Six boy I used to teach. I opened my mouth to shout a cheerful hello when the most thunderously loud burp burst from my lips, it was shocking loud and it lingered on rather longer than anyone would have expected creating a deep and haunting mega belch. Ted looked both bemused and horrified and cycled on so I threw myself back onto the grass and laughed hysterically. 


As I continued on I began to feel a little more positive, the pain was lifting, the breeze refreshing and the beach was awash with visitors making the whole place feel more like a holiday resort than the quiet, sweeping wilderness I usually run. There were barbecues alight, men with rolled up trousers and kids building sand castles and licking ice creams. Cali cool we are not but the atmosphere was fun and entirely British. As often on a sunny day there was a convention of kite flyers filling the deep blue skies with surreal and exotic creatures. 


The prom was littered with people and I was the only runner there making me feel a little badass. I weaved my way in and out of the lines of bodies waiting for burgers and lollies enjoying the fresh wind a lot more than the sandy sandwiched day trippers. Ahead of me there were tons of people and in particular one couple walking hand and hand, I realised it was the ex of one of my good friends and his past behaviour had rendered it impossible to say his name without saying ‘the knobhead’ immediately after it. I was laughing to myself about it as I ran past them and then as if in some ridiculous slow motion sequence the ball of my right foot landed awkwardly on the pathway throwing my whole body forwards, I tried to correct myself but my other leg had already left the ground leaving me on a downward trajectory as my head connected with the low, stone beach wall. I stayed there for a moment, lying on the path in total shock and bemusement until embarrassment forced me to get up and sit on the wall. John the knobhead came over smiling and asked if I was ok passing a jokey comment about how I was doing it all wrong and how at my age I should be home knitting. I laughed it off, thanked him for his help and said I was fine, he’s still a knobhead though. 

But I wasn’t fine, I was embarrassed, shaken inside and I just wanted to go home. The gods were telling me to quit and it was time to listen. I called Marc and asked him to pick me up then I ran the last few hundred metres to the leisure centre with wobbly legs and a stinging head. In the car on the way home I pulled myself together and assessed the run, I’d done seven miles and that was no small thing in that heat. I went home and ate a bowl of melon that Marc had given me as a post run treat, it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. 


Even your absolute, all time dogs anus of a run you can take lessons and growth from. I was reminded today (as I have been many times in the past) that if you don’t take Mother Nature seriously then she will delight in kicking your ass. I also remembered the wisdom of knowing when to quit, sometimes that’s the hardest lesson of all to learn along with when to not bother trying in the first place. Oh yeah and one last thing; once a knobhead, always a knobhead. 

I’m off for a Solero.