Archive | December, 2018

Thank You For The Music

28 Dec

Sometimes life throws you a curveball. SK was one of my best friends for several years at primary school. I can still remember the afternoon she came round with her mum and siblings to ask if I wanted to come over to play. I think I was 7 and as I remember it had not long come out of hospital, having been very unwell. Once I returned to school post-convalescence I’d missed a big chunk of school and felt a bit odd when I went back because children’s friendship group dynamics change so quickly, and I didn’t feel that I fitted back into my old friendship group that easily any more. And SK asked me to come round to play, extending the hand of friendship at the time I felt I needed it most.

We quickly became close friends and that autumn, when she decided to learn the violin, I followed suit. Something that became a huge part of my life – and still is – all came about because then 8 year old me wanted to be like her best friend. We went to buy our first tiny violins together, we had lessons together for 2 years, we practised together, we had sleepovers at each other’s houses and generally lived in each other’s pockets in the way that only young girls do. When her cat had kittens, my sister and I were there watching, and we all had fun playing with the litter as they grew.  Our parents became close friends and ultimately her parents bought the house next to ours, so that we could simply duck through a hole in the fence to play together. We went on holiday to North Wales as a big group, all 6 children and both mums. S and I busked together as teenagers, earning what to us felt like wealth beyond the dreams of avarice in a lunch hour catching the masses as they bought sandwiches.

We had ended up at different secondary schools and so gradually drifted apart, but there was no falling out. Our mums stayed in touch after her family moved away, albeit that contact also dwindled with the passage of time.

And then this morning, the news that SK died. It’s the strangest feeling: that someone who played such an enormous part in my childhood has gone. And still so young. Later today I will go and play my violin. It should be proper practice, learning the notes for a January concert, but I think today just needs to be cathartic. Some happy tunes and some sad beauty, but always remembering that however odd and sad I feel today, for SK’s family and friends this feeling is magnified a hundred thousand times. And that all those other trivialities in life don’t really matter: whether I can run a marathon, having a bad day at work. It’s just stuff. It will pass.

SK: thank you for the music. I’m sorry we fell out of touch. And rest in peace. Xx


The School Of Hard Knocks

3 Dec

Another 3 week gap in blogging. Oops.

So, just after my last post I sought physio advice. The view was I’d still got some inflammation in the knee and it needed a bit more rest, but didn’t appear to be serious. I rested it and was pleased the pain seemed to be reducing and then got norovirus, which led to 3 days of total rest and 5lbs of weight loss. Once I was up and about again the knee felt ok, but I soon found out this was because I’d done nothing, and the pain returned with a vengeance. I was gutted. Thankfully after a few days it receded and at the start of last week I told myself that if I had 7 days with no pain on normal walking and aqua jogging, I’d reintroduce some easy running. So it was with a smile that I tucked a set of running kit into my suitcase before departing for Valencia.

It’s a gorgeous city. Having arrived fairly late on the Friday we had dinner and then slept ahead of a packed day’s sightseeing on Saturday (including going to the botanical gardens to see the cats. I also glanced at the plants!). On Sunday we were up and out early-ish so I could support clubmate Jen who was racing. I was so nervous for her – watching is definitely tougher on the nerves than racing – but she ran brilliantly. T and I popped back to our hotel to collect some bits and bobs, intending to cycle to the beach for an afternoon of pottering around. We’d been cycling for all of a few minutes when I somehow caught my front wheel in some narrow guttering and clattered to the ground. Once again I took the fall through my knees.

I couldn’t really believe it. I was helped to my feet and T – who was a bit ahead of me – came back. I tried to flex my left leg and felt pain. I began to cry (and, I’ll be honest, swear. Apologies to any Valencians whose children now know some bad English words). I limped back to the hotel and got some ice from reception. And began an afternoon of RICE.

This morning, when I had imagined trying my first easy run in 3 weeks in the lovely Turia park opposite our hotel, which was going to be so symbolic (the first steps of the next marathon campaign in the ashes of the broken last one), I’m sitting with my feet up.  No trip to the rice fields as we had hoped (yes, they grow rice here: it’s why paella is so popular!). Instead, an anxious eye on my emails, waiting to hear when I can get an MRI. The knee swelled up very quickly and so it seems sensible to ascertain what I’ve done. Then I can know whether there is any point trying to get fit for the London marathon, or if my return to marathon racing has to wait until the autumn.

It’s fair to say that 2018 is proving a test of mental strength and resilience in running terms. I will dip in and out of blogging, but don’t be surprised if, as I lick my wounds, there are gaps.