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Roads to Recovery

Red
It’s my longest solo drive in a couple of years; I’ve dropped Tom off at St David’s for the start of his 55 mile bike ride, a training session for his RideLondon 100 charity ride to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Now all I have to do is drive home. I still feel very anxious about driving but a couple of weeks ago I drove 45 miles by myself to collect Tom from Neyland so I know I can do it. I’m okayish, but still quite nervous… especially when the satnav lady tries to send me in an unexpected direction. I’m still wondering if I’ve done the right thing ignoring her when I notice - to my horror - that a policeman at the side of the road is pointing a speed gun at me. Even worse, it looks as if I’m just over the 30 mile speed limit. I think about turning round at the next roundabout and going back to beg for forgiveness, but manage to talk myself out of it. I’m so cross with myself I forget to be nervous so the rest of the drive is easy! I get home, ring my daughters and Tom, h…
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Only Connect

Sunday morning and I’m out running. No music, no company (more about that later), just the rhythm of my footsteps to ground me and the rise and fall of my breath to rebalance during what’s proving to be a very busy time. I love this time of year when the lanes foam with white blossom and cow parsley and jewel-like studs of pinks, purples and blues glow in their green setting. There’s something new to look at every day. I’ve written in ‘Running Kind’ about how this reconnection to the natural world always creates a sense of well-being and especially so on day when I’ve been processing news about friends who are going through a tough time.

The changing seasons are a reminder that nothing stays the same. Tom and I have had the great privilege of looking after one of our little granddaughters and tomorrow I’m off to Cardiff to spend some time with two more little girls who are growing up fast. I love listening to the funny things they say as they learn to express themselves and it’s an abs…

From the River Valley to the Sea

‘Fancy a pint?’ Helen asks, naughtily, making me laugh. For a moment I’m almost tempted, even though it’s only a little after 10.30 a.m. We’re sitting near the bar at Lampeter Rugby Club waiting for the start of the Teifi 10 Mile Road Race, organised by Clwb Sarn Helen running club and the nerves are beginning to kick in. I’m one of the few non-affiliated runners and, for all my race experience, I’m a little daunted by all the serious runners and club vests. It’s also clear that almost everyone else is younger than us. There are only 13 runners my age or older in a field of 129!

At 11 a.m. we set off on what turns out to be a day of record Easter temperatures in West Wales, but I quickly realise that I won’t be breaking any records in the boiling sunshine. The course takes a very beautiful, scenic route climbing up along the Teifi river valley before winding back down to Lampeter. I decide to take my own advice and be kind to myself. Today’s not the day to go crazy! I run when I can, …

Running Kind

My goodness, it’s been a while! There have been birthdays to celebrate; Baby Iris has just turned one and her cousin, Joy, is now two. Where did that time go? There’s been illness and worry, but there have been lovely occasions and places to visit too.

But in the gaps, I squirrelled away some time to write a book. 
It’s no secret that I’ve been in the doldrums when it comes to writing fiction, but a conversation with my son-in-law, Si, got me thinking. And suddenly, I had the idea of writing a book about running. Anything I’ve put into twenty years of running has repaid me a hundred times over in terms of physical and mental well-being, but I know some people are very put off by the idea that every run has to be a tough challenge.

Yes, there are times when I push myself way outside my comfort zone, but only to explore what I can do. Running really doesn’t have to be painful. It’s entirely up to you to decide how far or how fast, or how frequently you want to run, so don’t measure yo…

The Finish Line

Never mind the finish line, for a little while it seems as if Helen and I won’t even get to the start of the Llanelli Half Marathon! Roadworks in the town have brought traffic to a standstill. We can see Parc Y Scartlets, where the race begins, but no one’s going anywhere at the moment. Tom, who’s kindly taken on the role of driver and team support, patiently listens while Helen and I try to control our jitters by planning a pre-race strategy. We change into our race shirts (my running bra’s the size of a crop top - so why do I worry about possibly revealing it to other people sitting in their cars?), we drink our coffee, eat our snacks and - phew! - the traffic moves at last.

At the stadium, we charge to the loos for a pitstop but there’s another anxious moment when it seems as if all 2,000 runners are crowded on the stairs trying to avoid a sudden shower. Eventually, we make our way to the starting pen only to discover the start has been delayed by fifteen minutes! Aargh! It feels l…

Return to the Forest

Four days before we are due to go on holiday with Lily, Rose and their families, my lovely Aunty Vera - Ma’s elder sister - dies. I’m absolutely hollowed by grief and a cumulative sense of loss. Another part of myself has drifted away; someone else who tucked me up when I was a little girl and kissed me goodnight has gone. ‘But, Mama,’ Rose reminds me, gently, ‘think of the new little ones coming along.’

Our holiday, it seems, has come at just the right time. Lily and Russ are on their knees from worrying about Bee and baby Iris who both suffer terribly with repeated ear infections and, in Bee’s case, severe hearing loss. They badly need some light relief. Fortunately, Rose, Si and little Joy are doing well, but all of us, once we arrive at our Forest Holiday location in the Forest of Dean, start to feel better.
It’s exactly a year since we were last here. We had such a magical time that we decided to return (no, I’m not on commission!). Last year, Joy was learning to walk, this year …

Breathing Space

Three-and-a-half-year old Bee is currently weighing up her career options and is torn between becoming a digger driver or a doctor. From the way she hurtles round the garden in her toy car, I’d say she needs to work on her driving skills, but she did receive a much-prized doctor’s kit for Christmas so I can confirm that she does very thorough examinations. She’s especially good at ears which is not surprising given that she’s on a long waiting list to have her adenoids removed and suffers with earache and hearing loss.

Shortly after my consultation with Bee, I take myself to my local GP because I’ve been laid low by the seasonal lurgy and a pain in my ribs which makes it hard to take deep breaths. It seems that I’ve coughed so much that I’ve damaged the intercostal muscles and the only cure is to take it easy for a while.

My first reaction is one of frustration; last year I ran 777 miles and my plan this year is to run 1000. With the Llanelli half marathon less than a month away, I’m …