Sunday, 28 May 2017

In Which Poppy And I Run Ten Miles And Learn The Value Of Wild Waters

Half Marathon training requires, at some point, upping your distances, so that when you come to run those 13.1 miles you aren't feeling every single inch of them. This week I needed to get a ten mile run in, so Pop and I set off together on Thursday morning to do just that.

Ted accompanied us for the first four miles, but as we know, he doesn't much like road running beyond that distance, so he was dropped home at that point with a nice pile of squid chews to keep him happy while Poppy and I set off on the remaining six miles of our run.

We'd gone out early as the heat was rising but even so it was very warm by 9.30 and Poppy was so focused on her running she hadn't been able to bring herself to stop long enough to drink from the water bowl at home during the Ted drop off. I had managed to get her to take some water from a bottle poured into a container, but not much. As dogs can't sweat they regulate temperature by panting and I was a little concerned she'd overheat, so as we ran along hedgerows frothing with cow-parsley and festooned with creamy white hawthorn flowers by lush green fields where horses gazed, lazily flicking flies from their sleek flanks with long black tails, I was keeping my eyes peeled for water. 

We found a pond, but the sides were so steep and so be-nettled we couldn't reach it. By the time we'd got to six miles I was starting to worry. The sun was really hot and there was very little shade and of course we've had so little rain there were no puddles which is what Pop usually drinks from.

It made me think about how reliant we are on water and how much we take for granted the simple unthinking ability to turn on a tap at the first sign of thirst. I wasn't worried for me because we were only a few miles from home and I knew I would cope with that, but Poppy is small and furry and her little legs work ever so hard when she's running, and she's so brave she never complains and I knew she would keep going beyond the point it was good for her. 

I slowed down and suggested we walked: she declined, as I knew she would. I suggested we ran along the top of the bank so her paws weren't on tarmac: again, she said don't be ridiculous mum, I'm fine.

By that point I was sweating from the heat and my shoulders were very warm and although we had another three miles to go I was thinking about aborting the run and walking Pop home for water, when I noticed a small stream running along a ditch that was covered in tall grasses beside us. I stopped and showed it to Pop, who jumped straight in and waded along it, up to her tummy in wild water. She drank and wandered a bit further along and drank again. 

I would never ordinarily have noticed that stream, quietly meandering along the side of a small country lane beside a strip of ancient woodland, but now it held all my attention and all my thanks. It enabled us to continue our run, it gave Poppy vital refreshment and it made the difference between ticking a box on my training programme and not being able to.

Probably, that little water course has been there, flowing quietly through the land since the rivers first settled their courses after the ice withdrew ten thousand years ago. I wonder how many people know it's there?

We got home in one hour thirty-five mins having run our ten miles in good order, climbing 210 metres of elevation at a 9:32 minute a mile pace and burning over a thousand calories, all stats recorded by my GPS. What the GPS can't record however is how smoothly the run went, how I still had energy left to go further at the end but chose not to, how my muscles were fine afterwards and how I didn't feel sleepy at all, how much it boosted my confidence ahead of the HM, how well I felt I'd judged pace and how chuffed I was to find running up three steep hills presented me with no real problems. It also can't record the small drama of searching for wild water so Poppy could keep going and how grateful I was to that simple little life-giving stream pottering along the edge of the lane.

Running wouldn't be the same without Pop. I hadn't realised how integral a part of my half marathon training and my running generally she is. The thought of not being able to train with her was a salutary shock. She is company and encouragement and someone to share the whole thing with. She is brave and tough and joyful and I honestly am not sure whether I would have got as far with my running as I have if she weren't here to share it with me. So this post is really to say thank you to Poppy, who brings so much to our lives here that in three short years she has become indispensable. I count her as one of my very best friends and I can not imagine running without her.

Hope you're all having a good weekend? We're on half term here, a small break between GCSEs. L is doing well, remaining outwardly calm and attending all the revision lessons offered. If he doesn't get Stirling marks at the end of it, it won't be for the lack of trying which is all you can ask of anyone. I am just glad he isn't tying himself in knots as many of the children I know who are taking exams now are. We put way too much pressure on our young folk so I spend a lot of my time supporting him to do his best without worrying himself into a knot over it.



  1. Well done Poppy!

    It's 30 C here tomorrow and I've arranged to meet a friend for a training run which involves a couple of hills. I'll try to remember my water bottle. Hopefully there will be some shade.

    1. Thanks, Gwil. Take that water and enjoy tomorrow's run.

  2. Well done, have a squid chew! x

  3. It seems like you have the perfect running partner and what cutie too. It's hardly surprising you adore her.
    You describe your runs so beautifully that I feel like I'm right there with you but without the effort. 😆 It must be satisfying knowing your hard work and training are paying off and you are well on track for the half marathon. I was thinking of a longer run myself this week but with it being half term (yes, I'd forgotten) it doesn't look like I'll get the opportunity.
    Best of luck to L with his exams. With all the pressure on youngsters these days it is good that he is keeping calm. X

  4. Well done with your training and I am glad you found that wee stream (guess Pop was too!)

    Good luck to your son with his exam revision - exams are never easy and easily very stressful indeed, but it sounds like you have got the right handle on helping him deal with it all.

  5. What a wonderful companion Poppy is. Amazing how we notice the unnoticed. Bet that stream was was like nectar for Poppy. I can see her running the half marathon with you. B x

  6. awww Poppy I lurve you !
    You are so lucky to have such a nice tall person.
    She looks out for you and lurves you and Ted.

    yesh poppy is a gud dug who run with her nice tall person she is lucky to be havin' fun with her poppy she is gud
    i thehamish

  7. Dear Poppy, so glad you found that stream when you needed it. She is indeed a top dog, I'm always so impressed with her running. Very glad too that L is doing well. My eldest had Y8 exams last week. He was so laid back he didn't even know what exam he was turning up for... May need to up his game a bit one of these days. Sounds like L has the perfect balance of trying hard without getting in a state about it. Hope you have a good week CT. CJ xx

  8. Well done you with L! So sensible! They can only do their best! After all it's a memory test really - nothing more! Good luck L xx

  9. What a lovely photo and post. We take water so much for granted don't we. Our supply was cut off for a few hours last week owing to repairs. The water board did send a letter beforehand, but of course I forgot all about it until I came in from gardening with a raging thirst and filthy hands! Well done to you and the wonderful Poppy on your training and good luck to L on his GCSEs; it sounds like he has found the perfect balance.xx

  10. Hey CT,
    My sister in law and running partner sounds like Poppy! I've sustained another little injury. This time to my foot; I fell off a chair while trying to pull a weed from the conservatory guttering. That'll teach me. Still sore and still hobbling after a week. Missing my runs very much, whilst trying to be sensible about full recovery. Therefore a very leisurely half term for us! Oh and I'm with you re: exams. Try your best. It's all you can ever ask of yourself.
    Leanne xx

  11. Awww, what a fabulous tribute to your wonderful furry friend. She really is a little trooper. I miss running with my boy now his back is bad. They are such good company and such a fabulous distraction. All we can ask of any of us is to do our best and to know that if it doesn't go to plan then it isn't the end of the world. xx


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.