Monday, 17 March 2014

God, has it been good to get out.

After nearly three weeks of swallowing ibuprofen and applying frozen peas, I tried running again last Monday. Actual running, I mean. Out-on-the-pavement-and-not-in-a-gym running. And to be quite honest, I was a bit scared that my knee would pop apart after twenty or thirty steps and all of this training would come to nothing. 

So I took it slowly and steadily, and headed out at around six -on Monday morning; running a five mile loop from my flat through Dulwich Village and into what remains of the Great North Wood. Six in the morning sounds dedicated, I know, but it was much more to do with insomnia and a night of lying awake, feeling like a bag of blood and meat and staring at the ceiling worrying about any old nonsense. You know; the kind of thing that running helps with enormously. Half an hour later I was feeling a million times better - standing in the woods, watching the sun rise over the trees and listening to the woodpeckers rat-a-tat-tat in the branches.

I followed the same route the next day; this time with Andy, and this time feeling a bit less trepidatious about taking my wonky legs out for a spin. My ankle hurt, yes. I had some kind of splint on my right shin. And my left knee didn't hurt, exactly, but it certainly let me know it was there - and that it needed me to be careful. Again, I got round. Five miles. And I apologise if I'm making all of this sound like a scene from 'The Champ' but it felt like a big deal.

And then on the weekend we went for it - Andy, me, and my knee - and we ran 21.5 miles. I am thrilled to fucking bits with that. It's the longest we've ever done. And it could well mean that, in just twenty days, I'll be able to run this Marathon after all. It's only another five miles, isn't it? That's - er - nothing. Piece of piss.

We set off early on a beautiful Saturday morning that was more August than March, and ran through Peckham, into Camberwell, around the Oval Cricket Ground, down to the river at Vauxhall, over to Battersea Park and then onto Putney. And from there, we took a route through Richmond Park, then Ham, and then over to Richmond itself. It took about four hours and then some. But we did it and it felt exactly as every running magazine and blog had promised it would - elating. And I was so, so grateful that my knee didn't throw me into some awkward limp. Nice one, knee.

Andy on Putney Heath.

This old feller sprinted past me, head down, in Richmond Park.

A resident-funded tribute to the Queen in Petersham, near Ham. Near the Polo club. It's posh around there.


PS: Something was different this time: Usually, on long runs, Andy and I stick our headphones in and listen to music or podcasts or what have you. This time we hardly bothered. Maybe it's because it was Spring, but it was great to listen to the birds and the woods and - well - the day-to-day life of the places we were running through (yes. Even that shriekingly posh woman in Richmond Park). That said, there was one point  - I forget where - where Andy stuck his headphones in saying 'You can only have so much fucking nature, can't you'.

PPS: We're probably supposed to be on the wagon. But there's no way you can run that far and end up in Richmond on the most beautiful day of the year so far, and not have a pint. Two pints each, I mean. So thanks to the Roebuck, on Richmond Hill for letting us take our glasses to the park over the road for a celebratory drink, and as our cooling legs set like clay.

Distance: 5 + 5 + 21.5 miles - so 31.5 miles/ 50.7 km
Time: Half an hour, another half hour, and then about four and a half hours.
Total distance (Andy): 167.8 miles/ 257.1 km*
Total distance (Elliot): 181.6 miles/ 291.3 km

*You know something? Andy's done LOADS more than this. He even did a half marathon in Scotland the other weekend. But he hasn't blogged owt for months, has he? The lazy get.

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