Last Saturday morning it was drizzling. The sky was grey, the temperature low and the last thing on my mind was running. It's important to add that I can't run either. Away from a potential rapist, or across a road when I realised I've walked on the red light and not the green, yep. But I'm far from a runner per se. Still, when the person you wake up next to asks if you're going to parkrun that morning, 'Because you didn't go last week...', you have to get on with it and make the point that you are, in fact dedicated to designing a post baby body fit for Kefalonia.
The whole way there, I didn't want to go. I got in the car, not wanting to go. I pulled up in an empty car park, and sat listening to the radio, not wanting to go. I prayed that the rain would come, and that the hoards of dedicated volunteers had called it off. I didn't want to go.
You see, four consistent nights of a teething one year old, who has a cold, and clings to you like he wants to be inside your skin, takes you to a place where anything more than a third L'OR coffee before 6.27am seems completely unlikely. But that morning, my head felt dangerously close to the edge. I needed space. I needed to be somewhere that wasn't home.
The outdoors clears my head. I love walking and use it to reset myself. The internal conversations I have can get rather illuminating across an open field, and it helps even more having the space to talk out loud (the baby makes it all a bit more acceptable than just jabbering away to myself). Fortunately - or unfortunately - I know the repercussions of not working on clearing your head. Not taking time to treat your mind with just as much care and consideration as your diet, skin or relationships.
I ran the first kilometre. Almost. The last bit is the start of a hill, and while I probably didn't need to stop, I did. I had already been at the back when I started so by this time, I was two dog walkers from being caught up by the tail runner. Another few hundred yards and the dogs trotted past. I hadn't even made it to the next marker, and I had given in.
The tail runner asked if I was doing parkrun. 'Yeah, trying to' was all I could say as at that moment, the head clearing had started. My throat stung from trying to respond without letting tears build, but I'm sure the wobble in my curt voice gave it away. He stayed with me at a walking pace, silent. I desperately wanted him to leave - the path back to the car park was coming up and I had all intentions of diverting off. He asked me a few questions and it seemed too rude to disappear so we carried on, together.
I eventually got to the end of the circuit after around forty-five minutes. Mainly walking with the odd run here and there. Times don't matter to me, that wasn't why I was here. I wondered how many other people had felt the same as I had when I left home? How many were using 9am on a Saturday morning for some personal space, and finding it, amongst over two hundred other people?
Last week my 'run' served a purpose far more useful than exercise. I got home, my head not completely emptied but I'd certainly made room for the things I'd be taking on during the next week.
'You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.'