I’d watched the weather forecasts that warned of a heatwave and decided Saturday looked a better prospect than Sunday for cooler weather. I woke early, ready to beat the heat. I must have been the only person on the North East coast delighted by the sound of the fog horn.
Peering through the blinds, the dense grey mist hid the houses on the other side of the street. That gave me time. Time to get ready, to get some fuel on board and to stretch ahead of my longest run to date.
The damp air brought a welcome coolness to my arms and neck as I set off. Sounds muffled, the waves shush unseen. Familiar landmarks smudged into obscurity, my focus drawn in and onto the grey pavements.
Passing another runner on the way out, we share a mutual sign of recognition. A nod, a wry smile. The runners’ greeting says so much: “I saw you, so I kept on going”. “Yes, I’m daft enough to be out here too”. “Hope you have a good one”.
A brief shared moment. Passed before it’s begun. Because we’ve been there. When it’s been tough; when the sun’s beaten down; when we’ve been soaked to the skin. When we’ve felt the muscles tightening and the blisters creeping. When we’ve been red-faced, gasping for breath. And we’ve been there when it’s felt easy; when our bodies have been taken over by the flow. Everything reduced to the simple action of putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s not all smooth running this time. I need to remember that.
For the first few minutes my legs are tight. My pace heavy and laboured. I have to give myself a bit of a talking to as sharp bright thoughts of stopping, slowing down, taking it easy fire off in the centre of my brain. I find a way through, distracting my mind from thinking about what my body is doing.
And somewhere along the way, I get my reward. Hitting the sweet spot where the run and the breath and the mind work together. And I smile.
The same runner passes me as I turn at the half way point. This time we wave and grin. Running the same route from different directions.
The sweet explosion of euphoria at the finish. Realising, not only had I made the time, but the distance too. 75 mins and 13.3k. That feeling carries me through the rest of the day. My aches are honest ones, a reward for hard work, not symptoms of injury. And they give me confidence, absolute surety, that I can keep on training and reach my goal.