A lot of my recent training has been in the gym. It suits my needs, I am still on a mission to build my strength and physique. But it’s a shame to waste such beautiful weather so today I took my session outdoors.
Facebook took the opportunity to remind me that it was 2 YEARS since I ran the Blackpool Half Marathon. 2 whole years! It took a minute for that to sink in. A lot has happened since then, my goals have changed and I have finally developed some upper body strength but it was an achievement that I will remain proud of for a long time. 13.1 miles in 1:59:52 – not 2 hours, those eight seconds were glorious! It was four months in the making after I made it my new year’s resolution for 2014. It’s a time I want to beat in the future, and perhaps I will take the leap and do a marathon in the years to come, who knows.
I don’t know how far I ran today or how fast. At a guess I probably covered about 7 miles in just over an hour but it felt good to be running outdoors again. I tried a quick run whilst I was in Cyprus last week and it just didn’t work, the terrain lent itself to walking and scrambling and not much more than that. This was a run in the true sense, an hours smooth, flowing action covering the tarmac. Before your mind creates an image of someone running gracefully, stop. I have a choppy and unorthodox action but it felt comfortable, I was in the zone, that’s perhaps a better reflection of my running feats.
Although the overhead conditions were perfect, I made the mistake of trying to run down a grass embankment in the park. After only a few steps I realised my mistake and squelched my way out again, the tarmac paths would have to do. It was a beautiful day but the week’s rain had turned the field to a mud bath, a no go for the quicker paced run I craved.
My route was rather repetitive, I parked the car at a local park and decided to try out the various paths around its perimeter and the sole path through the heart of the park. The route I quickly devised must have been scarcely more than a mile. I decided to run the road up towards the local hospital, where I was born, I ran through the hospital grounds. As I did I cast my mind to the amazing work the hospital staff do on a daily basis. To dedicate one’s life to improving the health of others is a truly admirable act. I passed the hospital’s on-site restaurant, where I remember eating the night before my sister was born some twelve years ago. A lot has changed since then but the restaurant remains as I remember it.
My thoughts wandered to the thousands of runners competing in the Manchester Marathon, I knew a handful, the weather was perfect for running. It must feel so rewarding to cover such a long and historic distance, surrounded by like minded people who celebrate your success with you as you cross that glorious finish line not 26.2 miles after the start but several hundred if not thousand miles for those dedicated enough to train thoroughly. I remembered the feeling of crossing the line in Blackpool and I had covered half the distance. The reward for such an undertaking is the satisfaction of achieving your goal months after the starting line.
I turned and headed back for the park, several sports teams were training on mud-baths marked with paint and delineated by marker posts when I returned with another runner was circling the paths, albeit in the opposite direction to that in which I headed. An impromptu football match was taking place on the tennis court in the centre of the park; the ball headed in my direction a couple of times and for once, I managed to return it without making a fool of my ability to throw a football. I never was any good at ball games!
I returned to my car after an hour and three minutes, satisfied. Before today, I hadn’t really run outdoors since the end of last summer. Today I allowed myself to enjoy my surroundings, not obsessing about time or distance or direction, and it felt good. I enjoy going to the gym, having routine and following a set regime of exercises but the freedom of exploring the great outdoors is not to be underestimated. It is truly liberating.