'We're on our way home now.' These are words I heard a lot on Saturday and realised after the second time that yes, we might be on our way home, but it would be via most of Kent, rather than in a direct line...
It's over three months since I started running with the SLJ beginner’s course. I am a long way from struggling to run for 30 seconds at a time. I am also a long way from considering myself to be a runner (and by that, I mean someone who can run a fair distance without the need for a ‘regroup’). But there is a big gap between the two, and I am really proud that I am somewhere in that gap.
This Saturday SLJ ran to some lavender fields and it highlighted everything for me that is great about running with the Saturday morning group.
1) Brains are not required: I have absolutely no idea where those lavender fields are. I have no sense of direction, and once we had gone through Godden Green, as far as I was concerned, we could have been anywhere. I love that on Saturdays I get to run without having to engage my brain at all. I just follow everyone else and end up seeing loveliness like this:
I even saw a lesser spotted Mr P:
2) It's better than being alone: When I run alone I plug in my earphones, but it doesn't drown out the monologue in my head telling me 'it's hard....I can't.... just stick to 5k and get home for a biscuit'. As part of the group, I can run and chat* to people completely separate to the rest of my life. It's true, I will never recognise them anywhere else, ever, unless they are wearing their Lycra, but that's ok - these are my running friends.
*chatting is only an option for me at the very start and downhill bits. The rest of the time I have to mostly listen so I can actually attempt the running part.
3) People are more important than distances and times: There was a point this Saturday when I squealed and almost fell over. Rather than moving out of the way as I would have done, the lady in front of me instinctively held out her arms behind her to catch me (It's a shame she wasn't around when I landed in a head of nettles a few weeks back!). One lady did fall over – unfortunately the lady with built in catching skills wasn’t around at that point. Obviously everyone stopped to see how they could help - nobody was worried if it added a few minutes to our run.
4) Someone will push you as far as you need to be pushed: Ok, I'm not sure this was a good thing, but one lovely lady encouraged me to go home the longer way with what I refer to as ‘the big girls group' (they are the group I am slightly in awe of as they Just. Keep. Going.). The lovely lady assured me it was just an extra mile through cool, shady trees – tempting as it was so hot. Those trees felt like they were miles away. They were: - we ended up in Stone Street. That is the opposite direction to Hollybush. That was first point where Sam informed us 'We're on our way home now', just before running towards Seal Chart… But....I did it! My app told me we had gone 12.2km - over 4km further than I have ever gone before! I had almost melted and at times considered having a paddy over how far it was home, but I did it; I ran with the big girls!
5) Something always makes me laugh: This week as I bent over to get a stone out my trainer a lady behind me shouted out 'nice arse!' I don't think I've ever been told that before, and yes, she might have been suffering from the heat and the sun could have been playing tricks on her eyes, but I'll take that compliment, thank you :o)
So I'm not going to lie and say I am always enthusiastic about putting on my trainers. And I'm not going to try to convince anyone that every running minute is great. But I will say this: that feeling when you finish a run, when you have pushed yourself, even a little bit more....THAT feeling is worth all the effort. And if you get to do it with lovely people and get a better arse into the bargain, you can't really argue, can you?! (Just remember that when they tell you you're on the way home, take it with a pinch of salt!)