(Yes, I’m counting that hilly thing as the first one.)
Slow start this morning - last but one day of leave and I’m making the most of lazing about first thing. Checked the weather app last night and it looked set to get cooler and less humid through the morning so I was in no rush.
Get myself ready to run and notice my right knee is still ever so slightly niggly. Keeping an eye on it but feels good enough to run.
I’m emulating others and going “semi-naked” for the first time. No app to coach me along. That Jo Whiley has already left me for some younger runner anyway.
So I’m taking Kirsty Young out on out first date this run. Her gorgeous, honey-toned accent doing Desert Island Disks. Sadly she insisted on a chaperone and brought David Baddiel along. A lad-erone, if you will.
Now I’ve got to grips with my old Apple Watch and putting a walk, run, walk workout together (not tried Strava properly yet) it should be fine
And we’re off. Kirsty seems much more interested in David than she is in admiring me. I’ve just got Paulo Nutini going through my head, enjoying my new running shoes walking on pavement for the first time.
The walk is over before I know it - a personal best distance for 5 mins, so these shoes must be doing something right - and we are into the running phase. Watch set, off we go.
All well. Knee not hurting. Gallons of air zooming in and out of my mouth as the worst part of every run kicks in - the toxic 10.
I’m glad someone posted about this as it now makes so much sense and I know I just have to push through.
Check my watch. 6 minutes. My lungs want to explode. Keep going, Jay, don’t embarrass yourself in front of Kirsty.
A couple more minutes and my breath is a lot better and I’m settled in to a stride.
But what’s this? On the other side of the road? A vision of beauty pounding the pavement in the other direction. Long blonde hair in a pony tail, bobbing like a young Paula Radcliffe, running goddess.
I have seen a couple of blokes running before. They spot me and hit the power button and zoom along, chuckling “so long, sucker, eat my dust”. And I’ve seen a woman looking like the female version of me, all hot and can’t be bothered but running anyway. We smiled and nodded and carried on, embarrassed.
Young Paula is different. She’s lean. She looks like she knows what she’s doing. She’s wearing a long top and long leggings on her very long legs even though it’s mighty warm.
She’s looking across the road at me. Oh my god, where is a hole in the ground when you need one to swallow you. Are my sweat-blurred eyes deceiving me or is she...smiling at me? Big, broad, white-toothed smile behind such gorgeous bright eyes.
What to do? V for victory sign? A bit 1940s and easily mistaken for the rude version. A flat, open hand wave? That is an insult in some cultures. I decide on a thumbs up. I contort my face into the nearest it can manage to a smile whilst still at this point In the run and give her a big, bold thumbs up. She smiles even more and runs on, out of sight.
I resist the urge to cross the road and chase after her - she’s not that much older than my oldest and she’s way faster than me - and I continue on my way, spirit lifted by connecting with another soul who is out running.
So I’m now nearly halfway. Around W9R2 “you can’t do this” territory. And I am totally lifted. I am madly in love with someone I’ve never met and will likely never see again and who I’d probably not get on with in person. But it’s beautiful.
My watch buzzes for the half way mark and I turn and head back. Young Paula is gone and I am into that second phase of grinding out the steps, knowing I only have to repeat the last 15 minutes and I’m home.
Let that sink in, Jay - you could barely run 1 minute on the day the clocks changed and now you are anticipating easing through 15 minutes on top of 15 minutes. This programme is unbelievable.
I reach one of my personal nemeses, Sirens Hill, and I am laughing as I run, remembering the Parkrun. I have Crocodile Dundee going through my head - “that’s not a hill; THIS is a hill”. I’ve never trotted up it so fast before.
My breath is totally calm. I am the most relaxed I can remember being. My legs are aching but they are just doing their thing. This is when it becomes enjoyable.
I’ve come home, had a banana and a hot bath, had some breakfast and some tea. I am totally relaxed and happy. And running did that.
Enjoy your next run, whatever it is x