Running and Spanish and oodles of family time

Well a whole month has whizzed away since I last blogged and its hard to know where the time has gone:  a visit from a dear friend who lives in France was the focus of the beginning of July.  I love the way that a visitor makes us get out into this lovely part of the world in which we live rather than gardening and working and sticking to our admittedly delightful routine.  A highlight was a walk on the beach at Newborough Warren in Anglesey  (Llanddwyn in Welsh) and a meal at Dylan's in Menai Bridge looking out over the water.  Newborough Warren is large and wild, fringed by pine forest which is home to red squirrels, and crowned by an island accessible at low tide.  You can look across the sea to the mountains of Snowdonia or away out west towards Ireland.  Why do I love the west?  I do not really know but the North West, Wales and west Wales, North West Scotland and the South West of England all draw me and the sun going down over the sea always sings to me.

Then there were a couple of weeks of grandchildren: older son's three, ranging in age from thirteen, through nearly five to just one; then older daughter and her two, nine and twenty months and her dog staying for a week as they went on holiday to France.  I love it all.  I love the busyness and the bustle and the sense of giving them time and making memories for them.  I also love the peace when they go and Ian and I can raise our heads from looking after people and look at each other and reconnect.

Nothing much else happens when grandchildren are around although I have tried, in a limited way, to keep up my running and my Spanish.  Once or twice a week I have a Skype session with a Spanish friend who lives in Valencia.  Her English is way better than my Spanish but half an hour in which I help her with her rather advanced questions and problems with English, followed by half an hour in which she helps my more basic Spanish to improve seems to be helpful to us both.

And today I ran for sixty minutes, the culmination of weeks of trying to extend my running time.  Oh boy, was it hard!  Whenever I try to meet a new challenge I try very hard to set myself up to succeed.   I don't run up hills, I don't run under the blazing sun, I don't run if I am feeling in any way unwell.  I have been looking sideways at this sixty minutes for a couple of weeks, not liking to look it in the face in case it made me squawk and run away.  Having done a couple of shorter runs this week I decided that today was the day to attempt the sixty minutes.  I would go down to Prestatyn and run on the seafront in search of maximum flatness.  I would go earlyish, around nine, hoping it would be cooler and quieter than later in the day.  Ian, who is not running right now having damaged his Achilles a couple of weeks ago, said he would come with me and have a gentle walk while I ran.  I got up, put my running gear on and had no breakfast.  Let's get on with it.

It was quiet as we got out of the car.  The tide was low.  There were one or two families and dogs playing on the hard sand.  The sun glittered on the water.  A few elderly couples were strolling on the prom, here and there being passed by a tired looking parent with a baby or toddler in a pushchair. I was just about to start my phone app when I saw a shape on the ground a hundred yards or so away.  It looked as though someone had fallen.

We rushed across and indeed a woman had fallen and bashed her face heavily.  She was very shaken and groggy.  Her husband had gone to the nearest hotel for help and soon there were two staff from the hotel as well as Ian who has had the training from the ambulance service to work as a volunteer first responder.  There seemed to be nothing that I could do after a few minutes so I set off, leaving Ian with the injured lady and the woman's husband calling for an ambulance.

I had decided to use the last week of the couch to 5k app to give me the measure of thirty minutes and then to turn around.  The familiar voice of Sarah Millican felt like company as I set off and I turned Strava on too to measure distance and pace.  The first ten minutes or so of a run used to see me suffering terribly with the "toxic ten", where legs and lungs won't get going and your whole body screams that you have to be joking.  One of the big pluses of having carried on running for a few months, however slowly, is that this doesn't seem to happen any more.  So the first ten minutes were fine as I found my pace and the next twenty minutes or so were ok too.  It felt like a long way and a long time but I seemed to settle down to it.  Occasionally cyclists passed me or someone running the other way smiled as our paths crossed.  It was hot and windless.  I began to count which is how I generally pass the time because I can't seem to adjust to having music in my ears.  I like to hear the birds and the water and people calling to each other.  Surely I must have gone thirty minutes by now.  Sarah tells me that I have only five minutes to go so no, I have done twenty five.  The downside of using the app to mark thirty minutes is that while Sarah is telling me how wonderfully I have done and that I can stop now, I have to turn round and run all the way back.  It is feeling like a very long way.

For the first ten minutes or so after I turn I am still feeling all right and then I begin to feel very tired.  My legs slow, my breathing  labours.  Sweat runs down into my eyes.  I start to think that I won't be able to do it.  This is the point where being really stubborn is useful.  I won't stop now I think.  If I don't do it this time I will have to come and try again.  I have run fifty five minutes before so I must be able to do that.  I promise myself that if I do fifty five minutes and feel really dreadful I can stop.  I look at my phone.  Oh God, only forty eight minutes.  Don't look, don't think.  Just count.  Look, up there is a lifebuoy, count to that and then you can look.  Fifty minutes.  Slow down, slow down, keep moving but slow down.  I go so slowly you would not think it possible to slow down, but I do.  Just keep going.  Run to the cafe.  Slowly, slowly but don't stop.  God but this is hard.  I look up and I am sure I can see Ian in the distance walking towards me.  That's ok.  I will just run to him and then I will see what to do next.  Closer and closer he comes.  I thrust my phone at him.  "Can you look at my Strava for me.  Tell me how much longer."

"Three minutes."

"What happened to the woman who fell?"  See I can still speak.  I must be able to run.

"The ambulance came.  The people from the hotel were very good.  I stayed a while and then I walked.  Two minutes."

Well I am damned if I am going to stop now.  Run, breathe, run, breathe.  Ian walks with me, his faster stride easily keeping pace with my running.

"One minute."

I can do this.  I will do this.

"That's it."

I am running with sweat.  I know my face is the exact colour of my deep pink t shirt.  But I did it.  Sixty minutes.  How is that even possible?  I ran for 7k in that time so you can see how slow I am and I can't imagine that at my pace I could run 10k because that would be nearly half an hour longer and I had nothing much left at the end but hey, who knows, the body is a strange thing.  Would I have believed you in January that I could ever run for an hour?  Absolutely and totally not.

And now I feel good, if tired.  What a strange thing this running lark is.

Comments

  1. Congratulations!
    Your training has really paid off. And by this time next year... who knows?
    It sounds like you've had a wonderful summer too. x

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    1. Thanks bea. We are having a good summer. I'm quite intrigued to see whets the running ends up. I don't think I will ever be running marathons but I hope I will carry on running 5k and occasionally more!

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  2. Well done! I’m swimming at the moment, trying to extend the amount of lengths I do every week. But I’m so slow! I do love the feel of being in water though. Non weight bearing exercise for my arthritis. Anglesey is one of my favourite places, we stay at Menai Bridge most years. And I love Dylan’s! Good choice! Jane x

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    1. I find that the only problem with swimming is that I only really like it when I have an empty pool! That doesn't happen very often. And I'm slow too. But I so agree with you about the feeling of water, especially sea water if only it's warm enough!

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  3. That is an absolutely fantastic achievement! And from your dramatic recreation of the run it strikes me that the mental aspect is possibly more important than whether we can actually physically do something. You can understand why elite sports people focus so much on envisaging themselves succeeding and working on self-belief as much as their muscles.
    Very envious of your grandchildren time. We are not remotely there yet with our two, age 25 and 28, both concentrating on work rather than relationships. I think they're right, but it doesn't stop me thinking about how lovely it would be at some point!

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    1. I think the mental thing is huge and a lot of people who have done couch to 5k report an increase in confidence and reduction in anxiety. I think that's partly that improving your physical fitness makes you feel better mentally but also that discovering that you can battle on when it feels tough is really good for your self belief.
      Sure you are right that grandchildren will come and will be all the more welcome for the wait!

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