Since I wrote about my journey back to fitness last week, quite a lot has happened. I confess I was quite apprehensive about the race I was due to run on Sunday and wasn’t at all sure about whether I would be truly ready.
On Tuesday of last week I led training at the running club as usual. Our session was a gentle social run that we do from time to time where everyone runs at their own pace, stopping every so often for a little chat and a chance for people not running so fast to catch up. I really felt good during this session and was able to run at various paces with ease. I then did a couple of runs on my own over the next few days and for the first time since I was ill, I could let my mind wander and not be totally focussed on finding the energy simply to put one foot in front of another! Progress indeed.
Now we come to the weekend. My club had two things on over the weekend. On Saturday morning we took over Rothwell parkrun (filling nearly all of the volunteer roles) and thankfully everything went smoothly. On Sunday we were going to run the Leeds Country Way relay where so many things had to fall into place logistically for the team and, personally, I had the challenge to make it to the end of my leg. So, I turned up at the race HQ to register the team at 7:00 AM and set our first two runners off on the first leg, which started at 8:00AM. Then, it was up to our first three pairs of runners to get the baton round to the hand-over point in Thornbury, Bradford from where I (and my partner) would carry it through to the next pair waiting at Golden Acre Park.
I was running my leg with a very capable and experienced athlete, our club chairman, “Rocket” Ron Needham. Ron, who is just over 10 years my senior, recently came out of “running retirement” to take an active part in many club events. At the peak of his career, Ron was the kind of athlete who won mass running races and the nickname of “Rocket” is very appropriate. On Sunday the reality of the situation was that it would be me making an effort to keep up with Ron rather than the other way round. Maybe it was that motivation that worked because, to my surprise, I managed to shave some minutes off my time for the same leg last year, even though I was much fitter back then.
The Leeds Country Way is different to most other running events in that runners are supposed to learn the route through the footpaths around Leeds and find their way without marshals! At some places the going is very tough and seldom used footpaths are over-grown with nettles, thistles and brambles. It is for this reason that I always wear long running tights for this route regardless of the warm weather. On Sunday this was a wise move because many bare legged runners were red and raw!
Reflecting on my own recovery and my impatience to return to full fitness I have to put things in perspective. I can today at 58 years of age run 11.5 miles through hilly and bramble ridden footpaths in under 2 hours without feeling worse for wear. When I look at Ron being able to do what I do while being 10 years older, it spurs me on. This weekend has reminded me not to feel sorry for myself but keep on going; running shorts or longs, whatever, the right trousers!
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”