M is a marathon runner. He has run London five times, the Jungfrau twice, done a truly exhausting 60 mile endurance run which took 8 hours, the Grizzly and the Clarendon more times than I can remember and various others on top. Whatever the terrain (be it London roads or the steep cliffs and muscle-wrenching pebbles on the beach at Sidmouth), he generally gets round these races in under three hours. He is very modest about his achievements and tends to keep them under wraps, so I tell everyone I know how brilliant he is :o)
Earlier this year he injured his Achilles and has been off running ever since while we worked on it to try and boost the healing process. About a month ago, he began gentle runs again of half a mile, then a mile to test it. Those went well so we are keeping everything crossed that it's getting over it's hissy fit and is coming back to Good Working Order.
About a year ago I took up running, mainly to keep fit, and I potter about our lane doing 1.5 milers every other day, so obviously no where near my husband's league. He has been encouraging me to do a Park Run (3 miles) for ages, because he does them and loves them (although he hasn't been able to this year because of the injury) but I resisted because a) I like running alone in the countryside at dusk and b) I'm not good at not competing and suspected I might not do very well which would make me grumpy.
Park Runs began in London ten years ago with a group of people getting together every Saturday at 9am in their local park to run and they have since grown so now there is a Park Run at most parks around the country. They are free, all you need is to register, print off the barcode that gets emailed and take it with you when you turn up at 8.45 at whichever Park is running the event. Then you just set off with everyone else, at whatever pace you can and once you cross the finish line you're given another barcode which gets scanned along with your personal one to record your position and time. All the results are then emailed out so you know what you time you did, where you came in the field, how you did in your age catagory and in the your sex catagory. There is no pressure to be fast- people of all ages and abilities take part and the encouragement for all is fantastic.
Anyhoo, M stated his intention of trying the Park Run again this Sat and before I realised what I was saying I heard myself volunteering to run with him.
I nearly chickened out several times before we went, but eventually registered and so up we got on Sat morn and drove to our local Park where 400 others were waiting bobbing about in the cold. We found a bunch of our buddies, a gang of friends who are runners, proper serious athletes who run endurance (100 miles over a weekend in Scotland) without blinking, do the Omm (original mountain marathon) a hard-as-nails race that involves carrying all your supplies on your back and spending 2 days and 1 night out on the mountain. A few years back the weather for the Omm was terrible and our friend John was competing. The press kicked up a storm with outraged headlines shrieking about endangering people's lives and calling for the race to be banned. John (a very calm man) came to supper a week or so later and grinned when I asked him about it. Oh, he said, it's all nonsense. What they don't realise is that everyone who does that race expects the mountain to chuck all it has at us and that's why we do it. We just found shelter when it got really bad, put on a brew, had some food and slept the storm out. In the morning we packed up and carried on running.
They have also done the quite brilliant Bob Graham Round which involves 42 peaks of the Lakes in 24 non-stop hours. In fact, it was at the Bob Graham that I first met them all. M was a support runner for our friend Sue and we all stayed in a cottage in Keswick for the weekend. Also in the group were Peat and John, who had both done the Bob Graham previously. It is quite something to wave them all off at midnight as close to the longest day in mid-June as you can feasibly get and be back in the centre of Keswick the following midnight to watch them come in. Sue didn't make it round that time due to a nasty fog episode up on the hills and getting separated from M who was map reading at the time for her, but we all traipsed up to watch others come in and I can tell you it is a very emotional experience to see runners who've been out on the hills for 24 hours running up the high street in the moonlight, their husbands/ wives/ friends/ family running the last mile with them, pretty much everyone in tears.
Anyway, the gang were all waiting for us because, unbeknown to me, M had told them all I was running with him. And they were brilliant- so encouraging and enthusiastic, and before I knew it the whistle blew and we were off running round the park.
Running over the past year has taught me more about pacing and breathing than I had realised; if you have a reasonable level of running fitness and don't let yourself be intimidated into leaving your breathing rhythm and running pace by folk overtaking you, you can run for miles. Lots of people flew past us on the downhill bits, but to my utter surprise we overtook all of them on the uphills. In fact, no one overtook us going up hill at all. That really boosted my confidence I can tell you. The steep hill outside our house which I quite often view as a total challenge has in fact been doing me immense favours over these past months because it has made me more hill fit than I realised.
I'm not a Speedy Gonzales by any stretch of the imagination but we got round quicker than I thought and I didn't collapse at the end. We overtook some people and were overtaken by others which was fine. Our time for the three miles was 27 minutes and I was 7th in my age category. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I texted my friend Matt from college who is a very good runner and he replied that I'd be addicted to Park Runs forever more, and I suspect he might be right.
My other bit of news is that I have bought a sewing machine! I've been making Christmas presents. More on that later :o)
And Ted and Pops have a new bed, printed with boxing hares, which they love. They've taken to sleeping curled up together so I decided to get them a nice new (clean, fresh) bigger bed.....
Poppy is especially fond of it and has started doing the unmistakeable Jack Russell Smile as a result. She does look a little like a lone Pea In A Pod on it....
Nearly Crimble eh?
Hope you are all well,