Oh running, sweet running. Many of you old-timers know that the past couple of months have made running difficult. 17 weeks and 6 days to be precise.
Parkrun last week – and this week – the parkrun that I live for, didn’t happen. I’m exhausted and both weeks I ended up, unconsciously, turning off my alarm and sleeping on – only to feel disappointed and wretched for my weakness for the rest of the day.
Monday I had a headache all day. Visiting hours at the hospital aren’t until 6.30 but I had to get out of the office. I had my running stuff in the car so I drove to the hospital and then went for a run. A fast 4km including a couple of horrible hills. I was happy with myself. When I got back to the hospital, dad was in such a deep sleep that I couldn’t wake him so I just sat holding his hand for 30 minutes. When I got up and left I left a sweaty bum mark on the standard issue plastic chair!
Wednesday is running club and I love running club. This week’s coach told us that, instead of the normal mix of speed, distance and strength exercises, we were going to do a continuous run of at least 5k. I was terrified and instantly started to doubt I could do it. It’s a long time since I’ve run 5k non stop – over 17 weeks and 6 days for sure. The girls must have been able to see the fear in my face – I can’t risk failing at the moment as every bit of emotional strength is focused on dad. I know I have the ability to run over 5k – but I need to get back to that place because I’ve lost that stamina for now.
Whatever route we run from the school where we meet, we have to run downhill. That sounds great – until you realise that in order to get back to the school, you have to run uphill! We ran, very steadily but as a group with me at the back. As I hit 15 minutes I started to hit the barrier – as I always do at 15 minutes. The girls refused to let me stay at the back and dropped behind me, spurring me on. We kept on running but it was really feeling tough. As we hit 3k and we carried on, it became obvious to me where our coach was leading us and that before we got to the fairly short – but sharp – hill that leads back to the school, I was going to have to deal with a long gradual hill – my nemesis. As we approached it my coach told me to go as slowly as I needed to – but to keep going because she absolutely knew I could do it. The girls would run ahead and then slowly drop behind me so I took the lead, then gradually came forward again and, in doing this, pushed me on and on up that hill. My legs felt like lead but somehow I kept going, encouraged and supported by everyone in the group. I did it. I ran over 5k non stop for the first time in a long, long while. In the anonymity that darkness grants, a couple of grateful tears ran down my face. As we stretched out afterwards I thanked all the girls – because what they did for me on Wednesday night was beyond measure as I focus on running a 10k in a few months.
I’m disappointed I didn’t parkrun this morning but we were called to the hospital at 10pm last night as dad was, emotionally, in a very bad way. Hopefully I’ll get to run tomorrow if ice allows………….