If you could bottle days, Wednesday would be one for the store cupboard.
At the weekend I heard my Scottish pals were planning some tri training. The weather forecast was excellent, I’ve finished a big project at work and I still have plenty of holiday time to take. So I asked, and I got an indulgent Wednesday off. Yippee!
Ridiculously excited, I woke before the alarm clock. My bags were already packed with a selection of training gear, so I downed my porridge, loaded up my bike and hit the road. Shades on, Beach Boys on the radio, heading north into the sunshine along beside the bright blue sea.
I rocked up, first to arrive and began demolishing the stockpile of jaffa-cakes (well breakfast was over two hours gone by then), talking ten to the dozen with Lesley, making a fuss of Jed and Finn and waiting for Al and Ann to arrive.
It was great to be able to give Ann a massive hug and tell her in person how proud and inspired I was by her amazing run in the London marathon (finish time 3:09:00). And there were big hugs for Scotty too, dressed for the summer sunshine.
A scramble for swimming kit, and off to the pool with Lesley’s son Al. I’d had a weird kind of nervous swim at tri club on Saturday, so I wanted to get a decent session in. It really is a lovely pool, so bright and until we got there, very quiet. I decided to take advantage of swimming in a 25m pool and get a 750m set in.
A few warm up lengths and I was feeling the effort in my latissmus dorsi. A reminder that I’d done a tough weights session on Monday night. But I warmed up, slowed my stroke down and made my way through 30 lengths. After that I was pretty beat, but still had time to learn how to swim around a buoy with a backstroke turn.
Then it was back to change into shorts and T-shirts and pose for photos with the dogs, ready for our bike ride. But not before I’d nearly come a cropper, sliding down the stone steps on my cleats. I thought for a moment I might have bumped my back, but I landed on my well padded behind and was none the worse for my muppet moment.
A scoot onto the bike and off down the country roads, skimming by yellow fields, dashing through dappled sunlight on tree lined lanes. Pushing up a steep hill and feeling much more confident about dropping down the gears. Finding my place at the back of the pack, but just happy to be staying in range of cyclists with far more miles in their legs.
Catching and talking to Lesley and Ann at times on the ride. Realising I’m keeping up the pace and it’s not too hard. Ann planting some inspirational thoughts in my head as I realise our thought processes about races and goals are really very similar even if her turn of speed seems supersonic to me. And loving the sound effects as we drop and float down hill, faster than I’ve ever been on my road bike.
A couple of sprints and a big silly grin on my face, cycling in the sunshine, powering through the pedals. Then I fall back for a while and emerge at a junction to see Ann down in the middle of the road laughing. A bit of a scrape, but no big harm done.
I’m not content with my pre-ride cleat slide and suffer a similar moment of unclipping left and falling right at another junction. Though it has to be said, my fall is not quite so dramatic as Ann’s. But like her, I’ve cramped the top of my right calf as I’ve stuck to a pedal. And my bike has another scrape. Sorry, Alice, but you knew the score when we got together. Adventures with me scratch the surfaces and get deep under your skin.
Thankfully we avoid any more muppet moments, even as we climb aboard a 6 foot anchor for more silly photos.
Cautious of my twingy calf, I drop down the gears and spin towards the back of the pack. My usual rides are around 20-25k and this will be more like 30, but it’s never felt less like training and more like fun.
Another transition scramble into trainers and we’re off away up the road for a run. Al at first beside me could probably walk faster than the pace I’m managing with little steps, nursing a twitchy leg up the slight incline. Lesley encourages him to join speedy Ann and they soon kick up their heels ahead.
I struggle to find my feet with the little steps that ease off the bike aches. When we turn off road through the fields I even walk a little. It is a glorious, hot day and the green shoots refresh my legs even as I struggle to keep them moving. It’s been a long time since breakfast.
I pick up the run again and catch up as we scoot down hill through the grass. A couple more walking breaks, but I do keep on moving and even find my legs for a while back on the road again.
We inhale the usual delicious spread of soup, bread, spreads and cakes, talking ten to the dozen, laughing, sharing stories, plans and thinking of other friends we’d love to have with us today.
The day is passing in a blur. Scotty has to go and I know I have a drive ahead of me, so freshen up with a quick shower before I too hit the road for a sunlit drive home.
I don’t think I’ve ever managed so much training in one day. But how can you call a day in the sunshine, enjoying adventures with friends training? It was just fantastic fun and I thank the lifestyle that I’ve grown into that allows me to do all that.
I have been longing to blog this fabulous day. But the truth is that I don’t have to pin it down in words to hold it in my mind forever. I have always loved my tri days with my Scottish pals, but that really was a jewel of a day. I drove home, happy and fulfilled, full of joy and confidence.
Thankful once again of the steps and pathways that have brought me to where I am right now. Of the catalyst that got me running, of the mad ideas placed in my head that become reality, of the challenges taken and achieved.
It got me thinking about other days in my store cupboard. There’s the big jar at the back that holds the moon over the ocean on the night before my wedding. There’s a voice I know as well as my own, singing my name. There are crowds, and high fives, and sweat and rain and orange segments and red and white streamers in the sky.
And in the past four years there are many new friends. People I would never have met if I hadn’t started running. People who have been part of moments I treasure. People I consider my best friends. People I hope will always be in my life now.