I’ve been quiet. It’s hard to write when all I seem to be doing is whinging and crying about my sore, injured body all the time.
It’s as if my body is trying to tell me something. And it keeps turning up the volume. At the physio last week, it was almost comical. “How are you? What hurts?”
“Um, my right heel, right calf, left achilles, and my neck.” I sighed, thinking of the psychological pain, but didn’t mention it. “Where do we start?”
We started at my neck and worked our way down. At the end of the session, which included every sore part as well as my liver somehow, we agreed I’d try a long 18k run on Friday. If I could handle this, I could handle the Roller Coaster Run 21k in two weeks time. Good plan.
When Friday came, though, my feet were so sore from a 10k on Thursday, I couldn’t even contemplate running (well, I could – I’m aware that my 10-year-old son has more sense than me, so I asked him his opinion, and he told me to stay home). So I stayed home. And growled and groused and cleaned the stupid house. Did eight loads of laundry and didn’t go for a bike ride.
We drove down to Ocean Grove for the long weekend. Me, with a sore foot, without my long run on a long weekend in a small beach house with two young kids, a puppy, two cats, and a very patient husband – ugly stuff.
I lasted until 2 pm on Saturday, at which point I decided that my foot didn’t hurt anymore, filled up my water backpack with gear, and bolted out the door. My family seemed to be encouraging me to go. I was headed to Torquay, half an hour up the road. I Google-mapped it, and planned a cool, easy back route, memorizing street names on the fly.
Part-way there, I saw a sign reading “Bramlea” and, as I was aiming for Bramlea Road, I turned. I found myself on a corrugated dirt track. I bumped along slowly, pebbles bouncing off the sides of my car, dust rising, for about 300 metres. Then I swore loudly, and did a quick u-turn back to the main road. Darn! So much for short cuts.
A few minutes later, I came to the paved version of Bramlea Road, and turned again. In twenty minutes, I’d pulled up triumphantly (yes, these things seem important to me) to the playground at White’s Beach, where I’ve run from before.
My foot hurt by now, but I really didn’t care. It had been a rough morning with one of my children trying out every form of abuse they could dish out (“I hate you. I wish you were dead, etc ect”, followed by spitting, kicking, and again, etc etc). I needed this run.
Off I went. Except my Garmin had switched itself to telling me how many calories I was burning, instead of how far I was running! Not so useful. I needed to know when 9k was up so I could turn around. If I could still run at that stage. A few battles with “Settings” ensued, and I finally had it right. On I ran, watching for snakes, not fully awake to my surroundings yet. Quickly, I was too hot. I stopped to take off my long-sleeved t-shirt, when I heard someone shout, “Hey, Patricia!”
What a delight! A friend from Hampton was holidaying in Torquay and happened to be parked by the path. And this friend is a runner. AND he was going to have a run in a few minutes, he just had to race home to change! We made a plan – he’d park further up the long trail I was running, and we’d meet partway. It seemed unlikely but cool nonetheless. I ran off smiling, wondering if we’d meet up again.
My mood had lifted with that chance encounter. Sometimes other people seem to see me in a way that I don’t see myself. They smile and seem excited to see me, and that can blow away the blues quicker than anything. It is always a puzzle though, especially when I’ve been feeling down. So a double-dose of delight, a running friend and a friend who was glad to see me.
I ran on. Noticed each change in coastline. I’d run the beach below during my 23k in the Surfcoast Century. Today I was up on the cliff on the Surfcoast Walking Trail and the views were breathtaking. I knew this coast intimately after a few races here, and a few training runs. I felt independent, competent, alive.
And a few times scared. When the crowds thinned and I was alone on the trail, bounded by fences on both sides, and worried about bad guys, but I ran on.
Bells Beach came just before my 9k turnaround so I explored further than I’ve gone before, making my way by accident down to the beach. What an uplifting moment, to be there in the sunshine, watching the surfers roll in on the massive waves. I hadn’t expected to get to the beach. I went on a little further (chasing that 9k), and turned back at 9.1.
Back to Bells Beach, and who should I meet but my slightly breathless friend from Hampton, He’d chased me down. I was overjoyed! A friend to run with in this most beautiful of places. And he was happy to run at my slow, injured pace, and kept me entertained with stories of his life, which were different from my life, and a wonderful reassurance that everyone has their own challenges, even when they seem chirpy and light.
Back at White’s Beach, we said farewell. My foot hurt like hell, but I didn’t really care. I was sweaty and happy and alive again.
The drive back seemed effortless, like floating.