Not the best day

Some days are destined to not be the best days in your life. It seems yesterday was once such. One one level it wasn’t going to be a high point, as it was father-in-law’s funeral. Hardly the happiest of days. His coffin was received into church on the Tuesday evening, after which hubby and his sister and some local band members rang a quarter peal. I’d said that I would ring if needed, but I struggle to ring for that long – my hands hurt for several days afterwards. Fortunately, sufficient locals were available that I was not required. Not that being surplus to requirements stopped me heading down the pub with them afterwards – as is traditional in ringing circles.

So Wednesday morning finds us at his parents house, and all the family had congregated. I have to admit to being a little bit of a solitary soul, in that I can be sociable for a certain length of time, but after that I need my own space to retreat to. And when emotions are running higher than usual, that space on my own becomes more important. So after a few days with the family, I was getting a bit desperate for some time on my own. Plan hatched – I reviewed the map and plotted a route for a run. I used to live here, during my PhD, and all I can say is it doesn’t look very much like that any more! I’d hardly recognise parts of town and the new tram works mean that some roads and routes no longer exist, or are closed. Add that to my lack of navigational ability and you have a bit of a recipe for disaster. A simple route was planned, down past the station to the canal and back. Not the most scenic of routes, but not hilly or risky either.

And it was all going so well. I took it quite easy, intending to extend the run intervals to 10 minutes. In fact, by extending the first interval to the traffic lights (not being sure how long it would take me to cross) I actually ran for 11 minutes in one go. And then it all went a bit Pete Tong. Running down the railway bridge, I had this stabbing pain in my right ankle. On the back inside left of the right leg, just above the sock. ouch ouch ouch. Sort of came to a halt quite quickly and tried to work out what it was. I couldn’t stretch it and feel any pain, the only time it seemed to complain (which it did loudly) was after the weight had been transferred from the heel to the toes. I could point and flex the foot with no issues when no bearing weight, but put weight on it and lifting the heel was really sore. I tried a few steps onwards, but soon decided that was really not a good idea and headed back home. This was achieved at a sort of slow limping jog interspersed with lots of short walks. The 10 minutes run intervals were no more. I will not bother reporting time or distance, it’s simply not worth the effort. It might have been good while it lasted, but that was not a good run.

Having got home, my next concern was what on earth was I going to do about shoes for the funeral! I’ve got smart black heels with me to go with the black suit. And hobbling up the aisle after the coffin might not have been the calmness one had been hoping to achieve. Fortunately (and for reasons I fail to understand) wearing sizable heels was actually far easier then trying to walk in trainers was. I assume that the gait is quite different and the weight transfer and push off the toes doesn’t happen in heels in the same way as in flat shoes or when running. I will admit that the bottom of the calf did stiffen up during the day, and by the time we went out for a family meal in the evening (when I was in the third set of foot wear of the day – a pair of ankle boots with a small heel) the ankle was stiff and complaining in a more general aching manner. I could also feel a dull pain when trying to flex the foot or stretch the calf, so I know that it is something not right down in that area.

All of which leaves me in a quandary of when to try to run again. Leave it too long and I’ll have got out of the running habit, go out to soon and I risk making it worse. It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in your own problems, but I should remember that at least I’m alive and in sufficient health to be moaning about a sore ankle. Yesterday was possibly not the best day, but at least I have tomorrows to worry about and to enjoy.

Running away from home

Unlike the song, I did not run 30 miles or more, although I was over 30 miles from home throughout the run. This weekend was our annual trip to Norfolk, to stay with Mike & Barbara. The boys go out ringing peals while Barbara and I don’t. I usually take to opportunity to go into Norwich for a mooch around, both for old times sake and because there are some lovely shops in Norwich. This year’s shopping list included more underpinnings (now I know the selected item is up to the task at hand, additional examples were purchased in order to give the laundry fairy a slightly easier time of it) and some new leather gloves for winter (seeing last year’s examples are falling apart at the fingers) and scarf to match. All exciting stuff. Generally I have a weekend of having to do very little and it’s lovely.

Sunday morning and the boys were going in to ring for service at Peter Mancroft. I decided against (as I usually do) on the grounds that they’re an awfully long draft and that is not within my comfort zone from a ringing perspective. The one time I have rung there, the ropes felt like they were stretching more like elastic than like rope, and that’s really not something I’m able to cope with. urgh. So after having been woken up by himself as he left, then faffed about for a bit, I decided that I may as well head out for a run. The thing about running when staying away from home is that the navigation has to be very easy. I get lost at the least provocation, so anything at all complicated is simply not an option. But a nice out and back run along a railway path is well within my capabilities in this regard.

The path was compressed earth and sand rather than tarmac, but it was fairly level and not difficult to run on. As was evidenced by the large numbers of people I saw out an about using the path. There were quite a number of runners out; some speedy whippets, others who looked worse than I felt (which is always nice). Two runners overtook me, one of them having the temerity to do so twice – that’s surely just being cheeky! Then there were a number of cyclists of all flavours, from the speedy to the family out for a rind – the youngest still with stablisers attached. Then there were those walking their dogs. Although in some cases, maybe that should be attempting to walk their dogs. Fozbow was not going to come, no matter how many times he was called or whistled for; while another owner’s pooch had decided that rooting about in the pile of what I assume was compost or manure for spreading was far more interesting than chasing the ball. Bet he was a delight when he got home. But there were some dogs that were entirely under their owner’s control, including one collie who you could see was just dying to chase something, be it me or the cyclist, but instead stayed down with his nose between his paws until we’d all passed, then headed off in hot pursuit of a tennis ball. That was probably more people in one run than I normally see in several weeks on my current usual route, which just goes to show how valuable paths of this type are. An ex-railway line could be a rundown, scrubby patch of ground that’s good for nothing, or it could be altered into a valuable off road route forĀ  both recreational and more serious sporting users.

Being ex-railway line, the path itself does not have too much in the way of hills, although the three roads I crossed all required a rise up or dip down to. There was also one brick bridge that I passed under, with steps up, I was half tempted to nip up and have a look, but “up” didn’t sound too attractive a proposition by that point. The path is sometimes in a cut, at others it is embanked, so there’s plenty of variety to keep my wandering eye busy. Throughout the path has a hedge on either side, so it was never very exposed, while allowing a view of what was passing. It was also quite varied, wit houses, village green, open fields, a farm or two, a skate park and woods all being adjacent to the route. There was also some benches that caught my eye. Some were normal wooden ones, but some appeared to be made from what looked a bit like old railway tracks, parts of which had been twisted out of shape in an artful manner. I did not avail myself of any of them, but they did catch the eye, being a visual reminder of the provenance of the route being followed.

While heading out I had a debate with myself about when to turn round. I have a strange preference to turn round something, or turn round at something, hence running to the pylon (a fixed point) not just at a set distance from home at no particular landmark. Yes, I accept that sounds a bit weird, but that’s me. As I was getting to the end of the third run segment, and when I was thinking that I ought to make the turn soon, I spotted a road that was about to cross the path, so I turned at the crossing, just after the start of the 4th run segment. That meant that the run was the furthest and longest since starting back.

Facts & Figures:
Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 50:13 minutes
Average Pace: 13:35 minutes/mile.

It felt good too. I had debated allowing myself to cut the run segments back from 7 minutes to 5 minutes on the return leg, especially if that had been longer – so as not to overdo it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It felt good at 7 minutes all the way, and I even managed to run up the final slope to the pelican crossing when I’d started my outing. Running when not at home can take some organising, you have to remember the kit and have an idea of where you’re going to go (or have a far better sense of direction than I do), but it can be well worth the effort.