This morning I went for a run. A very short run but a run nonetheless. The thing about going for a run in the mountains is, well, there’s mountains. It’s not like in London where my running consisted of making a beeline for the river and then running as far as possible along it. The thing about going for a run next to the Thames is, well, it’s flat.
A quick remark about my running ‘career’ perhaps. I didn’t really do exercise. A bit of cycling here and there, and some rollerblading, but nothing serious and certainly never any running. Then, in 2004, I saw the London Marathon on TV. That was it, I was going to run a marathon (there were fat people running the marathon! And old people! If they could do it so could I!). Trainers and sports bra purchased and I was off. For about 5 and a half minutes. With Alpine Papa cycling next to me for ‘encouragement’ I made it back to the flat but I was not in good shape. And I certainly hadn’t had fun. I wasn’t convinced.
I didn’t become a runner at that point (I don’t think I ever did really), but I got better and enjoyed it enough to keep it up over the next few years at uni and law school, running very short distances and not too often. Then, at the end of 2007, I received a phone call from Alpine Papa at work. He had just opened the post. The call went something like this:
“Hi it’s me. Are you sitting down?”
“Yes, why, what’s the matter? What’s broken?! Who’s died?! What’s wrong?!”
“Um, you’ve received a reply from the London Marathon ballot. Are you ready? You’re running a marathon in 5 months!” (NB, at this point my record was about 3 and a half miles…)
A week later I broke my arm and was out of action for a month or so. But I started training in the New Year and in April 2008 I found myself pounding the London streets with thousands of other people. I won’t say I enjoyed it (and I instructed my friends and family to remind me HOW awful it was if I ever thought about doing it again) but, despite the rain and hailstones I finished in one piece, and it was certainly an amazing experience.
I was going to keep it up, I really was. Nothing stupid like running any more marathons, but I loved the fact I felt fitter (and thinner) than I had for years. Motivation was at a high…
Then a week later I found out I was nearly two months pregnant with Alpine Boy. I had a difficult pregnancy and didn’t run at all. I ran a couple of times after Alpine Boy was born but it was just too hard starting over again from scratch so I never really bothered.
Then two days ago on the internet I discovered a trail-running marathon (and half marathon) which goes just next to our house. It had really never occurred to me to go off-road running (or indeed running) while we’re here, but I spent hours on the internet looking at trail-running sites and races (including the rather crazy Mont-Blanc Ultra Trail – check it out here. Bit extreme for me but the videos look good!), and getting rather excited about how much more fun running would be here than in South-East London.
So that’s what I want (well, wanted) to do. I told Alpine Papa to wake me up on at 6.45 on Monday morning when he got up to go to work. He tried. It didn’t work (in my defence I had been up at 4.00am feeding Alpine Girl and was feeling the lack of sleep).
But today it worked! Alpine Girl woke up at 3.00 am and 6.15am, so instead of going back to bed after the second feed I put on my leggings, tied my hair back and dusted off my trainers (literally. They have not been used for over three years). And off I went. Up the hill, down the country path to the village, then back up the hill home. A very quick 15-minute run I told myself, just to get back into it.
During the run I realised a few things:
- The reason I usually have my ipod with me to go running is so I can’t hear the sound of my death-rattle breathing. I decided not to take it this time, and discovered that it’s rather off-putting having someone wheezing and spluttering in your face, even when it’s you.
- Running up hills hurts. A lot.
- I weigh a lot more than I did in 2008 (pre-babies). Carrying around extra weight when running hurts. A lot.
- Most people get up early in this village to weed their vegetable patch or milk the cows (no joke). I didn’t see any other runners. Either I have to get up earlier, or maybe I’ll just be known as that crazy English city girl who runs round the village for no apparent reason.
While it’s still not (yet) fun, I wasn’t huffing and puffing too much fail to recognise that running through fields and woods, watching the sun touch the very tops of the mountain peaks around me, is infinitely preferable to dodging dog turds and muggings in London. I’m not sure I’ll ever do my trail-running half-marathon, but I think I’ll go running again. Maybe tomorrow (or maybe not)…