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.