4 at 40

It’s my birthday today. When I woke up this morning I had slept myself happily into my next decade. It was still early. Kath was even still in bed next to me and the cats had only just started pestering. Kath got up and I enjoyed a cup of tea in bed and a lazy start reading and cuddling cats – until they had enough. I think Shackleton’s face says it all!

After another cuppa and a West Wing re-run I had birthday pancakes and opened my presents. All very exciting and lovely. After a while spent looking at today’s and yesterday’s goodies I wanted to go and get some air and move a bit. I was looking forward to a run. We toddled off nice and gently starting with the first part of what we call our sheep loop. It’s called that because it goes past the fields where we used to have our sheep. The name has stuck even though we no longer have the flock.

We plodded through the wood and down the golf course and just as we turned onto the canal towpath Kath saw the kingfisher cut across the canal. I missed it. Never mind, there were plenty of ducks, geese, pheasants, sheep and dogs with their humans to see. We headed towards Silsden a bit and then turned round. Running felt normal, just something I do. Not hard or laboured, not really easy either, it just was. It felt good.

At 4 miles I wanted to stop – somehow it seemed right to do 4 miles today. 1 for each of my decades. I felt like I could have kept running for a long time but I didn’t want to. I wanted to have a leisurely walk along the canal and up home for the rest of the loop and I wanted to maintain the symmetry of 4 at 40 – so that’s what we did.

The rest of the day will be taken up with setting up my new camera (thank you Dad!), having a bath (there is something so luxurious and indulgent about having a bath in the middle of the afternoon) and then tucking into lots of yummy picnic food when the mothers arrive later. It’s been a lovely birthday already!

If you’d like to help me celebrate, seeing the fundraising total for mine and Kath’s London Marathon for Mind creep up a bit more today would really make me smile so if you can, please do send a couple of quid their way.

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

The one where we see dippers and Johnny Brownlee says hiya

It’s my birthday! I like having my birthday on Boxing Day. People often say things like ‘Aww it must be awful having your birthday the day after Christmas’…or ‘Wow you poor thing, never mind’. Well a) I don’t know any different and b) I quite like it. I’m not sure I Happy-Boxing-Day-Funny-Cats-Memealways did. Kid’s parties are a little awkward on Boxing Day if you actually want your friends to come (I’m not sure I did though, I’m not sure I really liked enough people enough to warrant a party – hasn’t changed that) and I did used to have a party in summer which I’m not sure I actually ever enjoyed that much. So you can see why a Boxing Day birthday is attractive! In fact it’s the perfect day to have a birthday if you’re an introvert who is really quite happy in her own company and can’t really think of anything worse than hosting a party. I mean, just imagine all these people making a fuss, no ta. I don’t have to pretend to be sociable on my birthday because everyone is too busy falling out with their outlaws or too full of mince pies and cheese to even contemplate the possibility that it might be somebody’s birthday, never mind actually come round to say happy birthday. I am particularly happy this year because I don’t think anyone wrote happy birthday in my Christmas card – just don’t do it people, just don’t.

I am also totally self-centred of course so keep those Happy Birthdays coming on Facebook and Twitter. Today is all about me after all – all – about – me. From a distance though. Make it all about me from a distance.

Anyway, this is a running blog so maybe I should write about running. Yesterday I said that I used to think people who run on Christmas Day are weird – well you can imagine what I thought about people who run on their birthdays. Idiots. I mean really? Running on your birthday? Well yes actually! I woke up at 6.15. No, I wasn’t excited about my IMG_8251birthday and opening presents, I’d just drunk a stupid amount of water before going bed last night so 6.15 was all my bladder could manage. I crawled back into bed and Kath brought me a cuppa and my presents from her. Oh goodness I got monorail highlighters. Life doesn’t get better than getting monorail highlighters for your birthday. Seriously, that was it, day made. Kath brought them back from Disney World in September and somehow managed to keep them secret and hidden all this time. MONORAIL HIGHLIGHTERS!

After a cuddle with the Shackleton ( who was moderately interested in my presents) I moved downstairs to open more presents and had a croissant and hot water and then we slowly got organised and headed out to Bolton Abbey. It was cold, raining and miserable but I was still looking forward to getting out. I was also a little apprehensive because I haven’t really managed any sort of slope, never mind hills, since this calf/foot pain started. We got there just before 9am having seen a majestic heron on the edge of a roundabout just before you get there and it was warmer and stiller at Bolton Abbey than it had been at home. We took a silly selfie and walked up the first slope. We set off without a clear plan – the loop ¬†could be 3 ish miles, 4.5 or 6.5 ish and we had agreed we’d just see how my feet and legs were.

I am still working on 30/30 run/walk intervals – any longer running and it seems my calves don’t want to play. We were just getting going when we saw the first dipper of the day – there were several more out on the loop and they were lovely to see and watch – and we were going slow enough to watch! Then on the next run interval after that we saw a very efficient looking runner coming towards us up the hill at what appeared toIMG_8235 me to be an impossible pace and yet he looked more comfortable at his pace than I do taking a leisurely walk to the end of the road. I was admiring the effortlessness and thinking that he looked vaguely familiar when it hit me that he looked familiar because watching him run is familiar – I’ve done it countless times on tv. It was Johnny Brownlee. Kath said ‘Morning’, I smiled and said ‘hi’ and he said ‘hiya’ as he flashed passed us quicker than a kingfisher on the canal. There was something about the friendly, cheerful greeting by an elite athlete to us two plodders that really cheered me up. It was from one runner out on Boxing Day morning to another and it felt genuine and it made me feel like I belonged there just as much as he did and that was priceless. Any doubts I had about being able to run our loop, any thoughts about not running and just giving it all up disappeared. I run the same routes Johnny Brownlee does and he didn’t think it was ridiculous that I was there. (Of course I know that he wouldn’t have given us a second thought, I suspect he barely noticed us at all but that’s not the point. Attitude towards others, the little things like saying ‘hiya’ and acknowledging others is so important, it can change that other person’s day and maybe life).

IMG_8234So on we went to more dippers and plenty of ducks. The sun was coming out and the light was glorious. We walked up the path by the Strid and carried on. We didn’t cross the aqueduct so 4.5 miles minimum it was then. We stopped briefly at Barden bridge to take some photos and admire the views and then we toddled on. At almost bang on 3 miles I got the first painful niggels in my feet. I had a couple of tight calf twinges a little earlier but they had settled down as soon as we were on the flat. My feet were painful for maybe a quarter of a mile and then settled into a slight pins and needles and an ache which stayed with me until we finished but didn’t get worse and the pain didn’t come back either. We finished at the Pavilion rather that pushing on for the longer loop. I don’t want to break and 4.5 miles on hills is the most I’ve asked of my feet and calves recently. It also felt like such a IMG_8237gorgeous positive run that I didn’t want to spoil it by pushing my feet too far.

For the first time in what feels like months I not only enjoyed having run, I also enjoyed every minute of the run. I loved being out, I loved seeing the birds, I loved watching the Wharfe going about its business in a slightly more frantic way than I’ve seen for a while and I loved seeing dogs excitedly taking their humans for a walk. I almost wanted to carry on so the magic wouldn’t stop but I knew my feet were reaching their limit.

We had our usual post run bacon sarnie and coffee and , like I posted on Facebook, this is the stuff that birthdays are made of. I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

Happy Boxing Day to you and yours!