Two miles into my 10k run I was sat on my arse at the edge of the River Wharfe with tears running down my face trying to focus on a little chaffinch in the tree in front of me. Yep, running meltdown – again. I wasn’t even really aware I was struggling. We’d had a lovely first mile with a little stop to watch a deer for a few minutes and I felt fine really. My legs were a bit tight but really, nothing dramatic. We were running at the Bolton Abbey Estate and had just gone under the aqueduct when panic set in. I said that I thought I should go back, we walked a bit, then I stopped completely and then Kath sat me down. So there I was, not quite 2 miles in. FFS.
This mental wobble I can’t explain. I didn’t see it coming, I had been looking forward to being out, it was a gorgeous day and the sun on my face was lovely. But all of a sudden my black puppy pounced and got me. I couldn’t dodge her or outrun her. She just attached herself to me and growled. So I sat and looked at the chaffinch; a sweet little thing right at the end of the branch, silent mostly. At the time I thought it was a female but I’m not sure now. It might have been a male but I just couldn’t see the colours because I was looking into the sun. It was really more of a chaffinch silhouette. Slowly I began to realise that I had stopped panicking. Slowly I decided that I could probably manage to go on. So on we went. It was ok for a while, a short while and then doubts crept back in. The puppy was keeping pace but then we saw a heron and walked so we could see him better – he rotated slowly so he could keep an eye on us. Onwards. We stopped again at Barden bridge and watched some ducklings and some goslings – all neatly lined up in a row between the parents. Then we continued.
It was ok for a bit and then it was ok for a bit longer. We had a few little walks along the way but I tried to keep going. The puppy was somewhere but she was keeping her distance now and as we stopped to watch a pied flycatcher she disappeared completely. As we saw lots more birds I tried to remember that this is why I run out there. If we wanted to run fast, we’d go to a track Kath rightly pointed out. Running out there is not about pace or even really distance, it’s just about being out there. I mean really being there.
I agreed that we would stop at the Pavilion rather than go further and aim for the 10k. I knew that would be about 4.5 miles. I decided I wanted to do 5. I informed Kath of that as we came onto the flat out of the wood and ran alongside the Wharfe. We kept going along that path but soon turn round to head across the bridge to the Pavilion so that we didn’t have to run through a whole load of people. To get the distance we ran passed our car and along the car park. The puppy caught up. In my head she was running rings round me trying to trip me up shouting ‘hahaha you can’t do this’. My tummy gurgled dangerously but I focused on the image of the puppy and kept thinking ‘you’re wrong’. My legs felt heavy and my mind kept wanting to give in but eventually, after what seemed like forever, my watch beeped for the 5 miles.
I have felt focused and strong for the rest of the day and I have rattled through the first batch of marking really well. I left my puppy licking her wounds somewhere out there. She’ll be back I’m sure, but not today. Today I won!