It was time to get back out there.Two days since my maiden voyage on the good ship HMS Get Your Shit Together and I hadn’t suffered any severe repercussions so I had no excuse. Well I had plenty of excuses but none of them seemed to wash with Marc this morning as he reminded me what a total pain in the arse I’d been the whole time I couldn’t run. And he was right, for seven weeks I’ve bawled and bellyached about not being able to run and now I could i didn’t fancy it. The monumentally shit weather isn’t helping, windy rain is my least favourite combination and as I resentfully laced my shoes I cursed the running Gods for abandoning me in my hour of need. 

As I’m back in Rookieville a 5k is plenty challenge enough for me at the moment so to mix it up and motivate me Marc suggested driving me to the coastal path so I could run my 5k there. It seemed odd because it’s only a short way but knowing it would give me the opportunity to run alongside my beach it was also a great plan. He ran a half marathon yesterday (bastard) so a rest day was in order for him, plus I needed to get out there alone, it was time.

But cars are warm…and dry. Hells bum it hurt to step outside, I was so glad I’d wrapped up. I skipped off with more spring in my step than I’d expected but that was more to do with my frozen ass than any semblance of enthusiasm. As my music started pounding in my ears and my legs found their old familiar rhythm I felt a confidence fall over me with fine, wet mist. I am a runner, I am a long distance runner, I am strong, I am at least two sizes bigger than I was when I last wore this aeroloft because I can’t fucking breathe.

Seriously, what was once my trusty top layer had now turned into a tit tourniquet and was rapidly squeezing the lifeblood from me. I zipped it open gasping and coughing and it instantly turned into a sail, inflating backwards into a very expensive flotation device. The ingenuity of Nike though would be my salvation. The aeroloft gilet is designed in such a way that you can stuff the body into its own pocket and strap it to your arm. I’d been secretly dying to do this for ages and now was my goddamn chance. True to form the design was flawless and it quickly converted so I pulled it onto my upper arm and continued on. As the first mile buzzed on my Garmin I noted something extremely important. I was completely fucked. I’m not talking a bit fatigued, I’m talking weapon grade exhausted to the core of my very being. I was comprehensively knackered. My legs hurt, my arse hurt, my arms hurt, even my sodding eyebrows hurt. So I walked a bit.

For some runners there’s a shame and defeat in walking, not for me. I like a bit of a walk break now and again, it gives me chance to reassess, cool down and to appreciate where I am. It rarely affects my pace in any significant way but if it did I wouldn’t give a rats ass. The problem was today that even walking was tough, and everytime I ran all I could think of was when I could walk again and the running intervals became shorter as the walking ones became longer. I did despair then. I despaired because last summer I could run an unplanned 16 miles with Marc then go out all day and party in the night. 7 months on and a 5k was destroying me, actually bringing me to my knees and no amount of words with myself would change that because this was physical, my body just couldn’t do it.

I kept on, the bastard arm mounted aeroloft had now become a mallet beating me on my weedy bicep with mind bending regularity. I ripped it off calling it things that would make a sailor weep and clutched it in my freezing fingers with bitter resentment. I stared straight ahead and resolved that I wouldn’t bloody stop again. But I did. My legs hurt so much and my arms ached, my wound was fine, I was just shattered. I looked out to sea through the cold, misty air for some hope but all I could see was water, cold and deep and chaotic and gloomy. But as I looked more at the sea I have so desperately missed running alongside I remembered that it is also ever changing, ever renewing, ever flowing, deep, strong and powerful. There have been many days I have run this path with pain, fear and desperation in my heart but never hopelessness. That’s just not my style. Yes, I’m hurting now but painful and joyful experience tells me that like the sea I will change, I will renew and reform. A wave crashes on the shore only to grow mighty again at its next swell. And that’s how it has been and will be with me again. It’s tough but I can handle it, I’m down but by no means out, in Marc’s words, it’s hard but I’m harder. 

So as I reached Marc in the warm car I ran past giving him a victory symbol because I know that it will come. Running isn’t easy, recovery isn’t easy but that’s ok because when it is it’s the most amazing feeling ever, the feeling that you can beat any pain, overcome any obstacle as long as you’re mental enough to keep trying when all good sense tells you to give up. It just takes time, support and and plain, good old fashioned idiocy.

And we have that in shitloads.


So today I ran.I guess to non runners that statement would be followed up with a ‘so what?’ or a ‘big deal’ but those of us who know that aching need to hurt all over whilst feeling so fundamentally alive will understand that it really is a big deal.

Surgery was not quite seven weeks ago and yeah, I was told to wait two months but time is nothing but a man made concept, at least that’s what I’ll tell my consultant. But I felt ready, I know my own body and what it can and can’t do probably more than most people and for nearly a week now I’ve known it was time. I’ve been walking a lot these past weeks and lately faster and faster, sometimes just approaching the precipice of running but holding back from the leap. 

All week I’ve planned to run but each day has brought an obstacle the most significant being last Saturday when whilst walking and laughing through town with Cleo we both fell badly. I took a heavy hit to my arse which is sufficiently cushioned to beat the brunt of a pregnant rhino at the moment but more significantly to my wound. I took it as a sign from the gods and cooled my heels. It was a very hectic working week and with a new home to furnish, free time was scarce and the weather on Thursday and Friday negated any possibility of getting out there. But today nothing would stop me, except maybe the churning fear that had suddenly appeared in my stomach that was threatening to travel through my lower intestine and exit via my rectum. I was lightening struck with worry about how badly it would hurt, how awful it would feel. I’ve been reading and sharing stories with others who have been through similar surgeries and was expecting very bad things. 

But we got out there and instantly I felt that happy rush of air in my lungs and the heat building in my face. We were going very slowly, little more than the pacy walk I’ve become used to but it didn’t matter, I was running. And god, I’ve missed it. In its absence I’ve tried to remain positive knowing that I’m playing the long game but it’s been hard watching Marc going out looking stressed and World weary then returning twice as tired but indescribably lifted. As much as I want that for him, I wanted it too. Added to that I’ve put on weight, yes I’m still very slim but I’m a stone heavier than I’m used to and I can feel it. 

As we ran towards the canal towpath I was aware of how weird and unfamiliar it all felt, my feet felt uncoordinated and clumsy and I wasn’t sure of where to place my arms, my breathing was all over the place and my hips were achy. But still I felt overwhelmingly happy despite the cold and the rain. And I was overthinking it all, the only thing I really needed to do was keep moving forwards. We took little walk breaks to check how I was feeling and before long a planned one mile had turned into a manageable if muddy 5k.  

Marc, as always was my benchmark of awesome, the height to which I aspire and the happiness I get from running alongside him just smiling at each other knowing we share the same joy was enough alone to keep me moving. My site twinged a little but it was my Achilles that called time and reminded me that I had been neglecting it these past weeks. The endless and agonising sciatica is finally quietened. 

We talked about how running teaches you a different attitude towards pain, an acceptance I suppose. During a run there’s pretty much always something niggling physically, some old injury or non specific ache and you kind of get used to it. It takes time to remember when you’ve had a long break from it that running is never truly pain free and that’s what makes it so triumphant and ultimately rewarding.

So I’m back, I’m ready to learn again in slow steps taking care to listen to my body all the way. It’s not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it, it always was that way. I’ve been so lucky, I’ve been knocked down so often but through unceasing, incredible support I’ve been able to keep on getting back up. I’m hoping that this time I get to stay on my feet for a good, long time.

You’ve seen my descent, now watch me rise.