I was convinced I’d not sleep, but miraculously did... and a deep-plush one at that, only ended at sunrise by a cat that found the perfect spot to compress my bladder. 🐈😼 Yesterday, I’d been thinking about my hydration, so you can imagine.
But M was like a grumpy bear emerging from hibernation, complaining of unpleasant stomach feelings. He suggested delaying a day (oh, no! I’ve made a public commitment about today! Accountability crisis! and Buddhagal snuck in her graduation run a day earlier than expected! Friendly-competitive crisis! Potential crisis for Buddagal’s non-stop 48-hour+ party 😧 What to do?). I suggested he delayed a day and I go ahead (we are perfectly capable of solitary runs). M decided he should have a coffee to see if he perked up. I agreed to wait and took the opportunity to extend my warm-up and experiment properly with a foam roller 😬😜🤪😖😱. Suitably perked up and reassured that he could always change his mind (M) and perfectly primed (me), off we went. It was not long after 9.00. I took a leap of faith and chose - wait for it - the most happiest smiley on the app. Indeed, I did! I don’t do things like that. I’m still reeling from the sheer audacity.
As we reached the park and the end of the walking section, M got in quick and declared ‘anti-clockwise’. I’d been out-manoeuvred there. He’s usually so busy espousing on the news of the day, that I get to take that decision. In my vision for my graduation run, I had imagined clockwise (the less common choice) to mark the special occasion - but if this would help M, then so be it. I relented with a (gracious and generous) smile on my face. (Weird world when so much hangs on such a tiny decision, though.)
From forecasts, I’d also imagined rain. Instead, it was dry. These were the coldest conditions in which we’ve run and I did secretly worry that M’s asthma might suffer. (It didn’t.)
The park was just so beautiful today. It was cloudy, not blankly clouded, but with interesting formations - mostly horizontal, flat forms, with some patches of mackerel - and a drop-dead gorgeous milky sun holding its own. The air was sharp and the mood almost crepuscular, with a glow emanating beneath the cloud cover. Where it hit certain objects, they answered back: the cladding on a new-build glowed; the roof of a passing train created curved swords of blinding brilliance as it disappeared into the distance. I was mesmerised by one guy’s blush-coloured hoody, which also responded well. More plastic bags and deflated balloons stuck in the tree tops were highlighted and sparkled.
Today seemed quiet (for a London park). I was especially conscious of sound: of more birds (blackbird, magpies, crows, tits); the languages being spoken by other park users; a refuse lorry reversing; the burring of the railway; but also, it seemed to me, of more air traffic than of late.
🐕🦮🐩🐕🦺🐾🐶 I thought a bit about the dogs. Today, the majority were short-legged for some bizarre reason. They can make me laugh with their antics. One - long-legged and long-haired, greyhound-like, ginger coat, floppy ears - was acrobatically chasing the crows. Boy, could that beast bound, leap high arabesques and twist mid-air. Like a floppy ballerina. The canny crows seemed to be teasing, always just out of reach.
I barely thought about the physicality of running. Occasionally, I checked in with M to ensure all was well (it was); I channeled Laura now and then. I gave a bit of attention to my body: how am I striding; how am I landing; am I lifting out of my hips; is my head up; are my shoulders relaxed; and (a good yoga favourite) is my tongue at ease. (You have no idea about relaxing muscles until you do the tongue!) But I’d say these moments were swift and positive. It was just a fantastic run. 🏃🏽♀️🏃🏽♀️🦌🦌🦌🌪☄️💃🏼💫✨
I confess, I don’t get the mindset that spray-paints a tree - and does so with the words ‘Love Life’ and ‘Be Happy’. 🤷🏼♀️ But I can see there’s something joyful about this odd urban gesture, so it’s my first photo.
💕💖💕To all of you: Thanks a million for all your incredible support and advice; for the humour, jokes and piss-taking; for the tales of your runs and honest sharing of feelings; for the words and the photos; for indulging my posts; and for the lived fantasy that even us minnows of the running world can find a 🦌inside our 🐌 🐢🦥!!! 💕💖💕
✊💪🏼To the new starters: You can do it! I did it. M did it. We never imagined we could. We’re in our 60s. We have our gips, arthritic joints, and the pains of aging. Given how we felt in the early weeks, we are aghast that we are now able to run for 30 minutes. It was all just the result of curiosity one day in early September that got us started. And we could never have imagined the impact on us, both physically and mentally. Remember: It’s not a race; it’s a personal journey. Niko-niko. Slowly. (I try to take 2 days rest at least.) It’s not just exercise; it can feel life-transforming. ✊💪🏼
🍽 PS M has just ordered a proper celebration dinner for tonight, simultaneously helping a lovely local restaurant to stay afloat during lockdown. He knows this is special! 🍽