It’s one of things I find the hardest, running. Well, jogging. I’m not exactly light, and suffer terrible sore shins if I try and jog on tarmac/ concrete.
I started trying to run last year, when I lived up at Tattenham Corner. Run 100, walk 100. Apart from the fact I couldn’t run 100 steps. I put my earphones in, music on and jogged/walked out to the racecourse, down to the stands and back up the course. I pushed myself to go further and jog a few steps more, gasping for breath like a fish out of water. I’d add another street or run a bit further up hill. And I got to really enjoy the satisfaction of it. The wide, quiet, empty streets. The beauty of the sunset on the top of the hill…. Then it started getting dark, and I was too worried about jogging in the dark on my own, constantly on the lookout for odd acting people or dogs to carry on.
I started again when I stayed up near Borth with a former friend of mine. She couldn’t walk far, and had two small dogs dumped on her after her mothers death, so I started jogging with them on Ynyslas beach every morning. I had a purpose to run for; to get the poor dogs a bit of exercise.
Running on the beach was hard. Soft sand, to hard packed sand, fighting the blustery wind that’s such a part of Borth. Watching the tide, trying to run with two dogs on leads pulling in different directions. Keeping an eye on another person that has suddenly appeared in the distance. Dodging rock pools and running out to the tide line. Drinking in the stunning beauty of the distant mountains, the multicoloured hues of the sea, the sand dunes and the sky. I felt alive. Fiercely, defiantly alive. Sucking sea air in like I depended on it. Totally unsuitable clothing, and two dogs who deserved longer runs than I could give them. I felt great.
When I came back from Aberystwyth/ Borth, I didn’t carry on. I didn’t have the feeling that I could do that down here. Up there I was invisible. An unknown. A stranger greeted with a nod and a smile. Down here…. I worried too much.
It wasn’t until the same former friend had an accident that I started again. Building up bit by bit. This time on the Thames path, and around the quiet residential streets of Barnes. I got further and did more with the dogs every time. Sadly this came to an end.
I started again last week. Not wanting to go out on my bike, just to see if I could still do it. I had to listen to my body. If the shins felt tight, stop immediately and walk for a bit. Get it in my head that no one here knows me. That behind my sunglasses I can make myself strong when all people see is a reflection back at them. They can’t see me. Most don’t want to.
It didn’t start greatly. Jog, walk, walk, weather was perfect, shins behaving. Which direction? Wait for that car. Thanks mate, a half smile and my hand up as a nicer driver let’s me across the road. Let’s go that way. Slow it down, catch your breath. Go again. Realise that I don’t and never will need earphones. Hear the blackbird. Steady past the family getting in the car. Slow down. Realise I can do this. It’ll take forever, but so fucking what. Oh look. Sand. A footpath. Carry on, but it’s calling me like an itch that can’t be scratched. At the end of the road. Turn, jog partway back. Walk. Stop and look up the footpath. Go through the gate and…. wow. This is perfect. Explore as the path winds up and splits. Straight ahead steps.
I end the evening with a long walk down a gravel road to home in the pastel light of the setting sun. A small hidden place, well used and a mini mecca to be explored. I’m tired, but elated. I don’t need to do this for anyone but me. The realisation is… interesting. I want to go again. I’ve no idea how far I’ve been or how long I’ve been out. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done for ages and I’ve loved it.