Last week I got the full force of having behaved like an ostrich for the past two months. On Friday, I cancelled everything and ran back to Hampshire Nelly-fashion, with an implausibly packed suitcase and a whisky and ginger in a can.
(I hasten to add that I did ask my parents first before descending on them, and took Comestible Provisions.)
It was lovely. Bananagrams and chatting, food and wine and the dog lolling around looking a bit put-upon, and just not being in London. My friends Laura and Nick were down, partly to see their parents’ puppy, and partly because as Nick said, “The weekend always feels longer down here.”
I hadn’t been getting on well with running lately because of the bad weather, which always makes me lose about 70 per cent of my inclination to be awake. This week though, I’d ventured into a gym for the first time in years (verdict: sweaty. Smells odd. Ferdie from This Life turned up on a tea-time vicar detective series). I’d optimistically bought my running gear back with me, and went out on Saturday armed with a 5k mission on Zombies, Run!
After five minutes, I realised I’d forgotten to set Runkeeper, and started again. After another 10 minutes, I realised the robotic voice alerts had been turned off and I had no idea what my pace was. I mindlessly bounced along mouthing the lyrics to Katy Perry and admiring various cows and fields, and eventually realised I’d done my fastest natural run yet – ie, not hobbling along staring at Runkeeper.
I felt so amazing when I got home that it was as though all my running zeal from last month had come back in one go. I got out my copy of Running Like A Girl l to find exactly which eyeliner won’t budge during a race (it’s MAC LiquidLast) and got completely distracted. Half an hour later, I was hooked in some kind of bizarre “I want to run! Again” world. I’d read through from the beginning, and burst into tears at the precise moment when Alex Heminsley hit the wall during her first marathon and her mother screams at her “COME ON MY DARLING GIRL…”
I’d got utterly engrossed in the beyond brilliant Born to Plod – honestly, read it whether you like running or not, he’s hilarious – which I’d found while earnestly searching for a waterproof running jacket, rather than the decidedly leaky one I bought for rehearsing the Olympics opening ceremony, which is so huge I could use it as temporary stabling for six horses.
And about half an hour later, I’d entered the Royal Parks half-marathon because all the training plans started this week and that seemed to be a sign.
The next day I went out in the drizzling mizzling boredom of weather that only England can produce, and ran 8.7k without feeling the slightest bit tired. I was utterly disgusting to look at, but I felt so good and calm and generally de-Londoned, de-stressed and de-ostriched that I’d run up hills and waved at cows and not got hit by a single car that I really didn’t care.
You’re not supposed to run away from anything when you’re 30. Sod that. It turned out to be exactly what I needed in order to come back home feeling better and more alive.