The Beautiful Run

To parkrun or not parkrun, that was the question yesterday. And the answer was ‘not’. Because I was afraid that, after the recent snow, it might be slippery and I might fall over. Pavements near my house were very slippery where slushy snow had frozen. I didn’t want to risk it. So I did a treadmill run instead. It did seem a shame, running on the treadmill, with the sun shining and the sky all beautiful and blue outside. But I had a good run, as far as running on the treadmill goes. And I’m lucky to have such a machine at home, so I’m not going to complain about it. Well, not too much. Looking on the bright side, it suited me to have an easier run yesterday, so I could do my long run today. I don’t usually run on consecutive days, still being new to all of this. But I don’t know how much time I’ll have through the week, so I wanted to get this week’s 8KM run under my belt. This morning was just as beautiful as yesterday. Frosty, cold and sunny. I checked the weather on my phone at 9 am as I got ready to set out – zero degrees Celsius, feels like minus three. I wasn’t phased. I’d soon warm up, and all that ice and snow must surely have gone by now. I happily jogged up to the top of the village on the pavement, saying good morning to people out walking dogs, and very feeling pleased with myself. Then the pavement ran out, and I crossed over and into the road. One word: ice. Lots of ice everywhere.

Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. But there’s a place at the top of the village where there’s been a ‘flood’ sign for months. The flood is generally a very big puddle that spans the road. After heavy rain it gets trickier, but for the most part it’s not too bad. Except for today – when it was a small ice rink, with frozen snow in the middle. Not surprisingly, I slowed down and walked very gingerly across. Once over, the rest of the road looked clear, and I began to run. Until a shady piece of road, and another patch of ice. That set the tone for the next mile or so: sunny road – run, shady road – walk. This is stupid, I said to myself, I missed parkrun yesterday because I thought it might be slippy, and now I’m trying to run on THIS.

Walking carefully up one particularly icy hill, looking for safe places to put my feet, it occurred to me that I might have more difficulty going back down the hill. Nothing for it then, I thought, I’ll just have to keep going. I took my time, and enjoyed the peace and solitude. Then I arrived at a junction and was relieved to see that the road I was planning to take was in full sun and free of ice. I ran down it with a light heart. The rest of my run, to the sea at Lilstock Beach, was mostly clear of ice and snow. I hadn’t originally planned to run as far as Lilstock. But as I’d had to walk so much, I thought I’d better go further to make sure that I ran for at least 8 KM of the distance. I passed scenery that was simply breathtaking. The rolling hills, snow-topped in the distance, looked so different that I felt like I’d gone much further. I had a moment of panic, feeling very far from home. What if I hurt myself? I thought, how will I get back home from here? I had to remind myself that I was really just a couple of miles from home. It just looked different, more beautiful, more isolated. As I approached the beach, I could smell the sea before I saw it, and I felt ridiculously excited. The beach itself is nothing very special, a pebble beach with a clear view of the Hinkley Point C power station construction site. But it felt like a massive achievement to get to a beach by the power of my own legs, rather than by driving. I didn’t linger at the beach, aware that I had the return run to do. Heading back home, I noticed that the ice on the roads was beginning to melt and things were warming up. When I reached the icy hill, I had to slow down and carefully pick my way through. But it was nowhere near as bad as I had expected. Heading up a long, steep hill my left knee and hamstring began to niggle. Aware that I’d gone much further than my training plan suggested, I slowed to a walk until things felt better again. Then I picked the pace up again, and arrived home running comfortably. I covered 7.8 miles in the end, or 12.5 KM. It took me a whole 1 hour 57 minutes, including walking time and gazing at the sea time. Although I walked for part of the way, I ran more than the 8 KM I needed (even if the running was broken up by tiptoeing over ice). It was a slow run, and it was a bitty run. But it was a gloriously beautiful run.

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