I finally made ten miles at the end of May. It was raining. Out of pure spite, it had rained every time I’d had a day off work. The week before had been absolutely Saharan, with no air-conditioning in my little one-man vets. But by the time I finished work at 10.00am on the Saturday, there were big, cold drops plummetting from the sky.
Never-the-less, I had made plans to meet friends on the moor. In the six seconds it took to run down our road, I became completely and utterly soaked, but utterly psyched as well. I was going to do this! My friends would admire my hardcoreness! – and then a car drove through a puddle in the gutter next to me. The realisation washed over me extremely quickly that I hadn’t actually been soaked a few seconds previously. But I was now. I waved my arms in cartoonworthy anger; lightening flickered overhead.
The riverside path was greased with mud and I had just acquired a brown slimey bottom for the second time when the phone rang. I stopped, mantled over my backpack to shelter the contents and ferreted through several polythene bags. Typically, the ringing stopped the second I caught my phone in my hand. I returned the call. It was my friends. Fed up of walking in the rain, they were in a pub and wondered if I could collect them. Good idea, I thought. I ran back home for the car.
‘No, No, I’ll get them,’ hubby said generously on seeing me return so soon. He batted me into the rain again. ‘Train!’
So I ran. Ignoring the wet clothing rubbing sensitive patches sore, I took my steamy glasses off and was soon alone on a cold, blurry wet field, panting pathetically. I overtook my first people about 8 miles in.
“Nice to get Stanage Edge to yourself on a bank holiday!” I tried to sound upbeat as I passed them, then started worrying in case I’d been unwelcoming. And then I realised I’d left the edge in the wrong direction and had to turn round, looking sodden and sheepish, and run uphill past them again. Worse, they watched me.
By the time I reached the pub, my friends and hubby were long gone. My trainers had disintegrated and my phone screen had died. That, friends, was my best ever run.
I vetted very hard throughout June. I meant to go for an evening run – I meant to! – but work was exhausting. The first weekend I wasn’t working, I got up early on the Saturday with good intentions. But half-way up the first hill, my knee was very, very sore. And then, to cap it all, the i-phone had fallen out of my pocket. The following morning should also have been a lie-in, but I was out at 6.00am looking for my phone. By now, I was properly lame.
‘How many times have you been running this week?’ Gareth had just made twenty miles.
He sighed. ‘OK. Tell me where it hurts.’
‘It’s hard to visualise. The lateral edge of the patellar ligament, maybe? Possibly slightly craniolateral to-‘
‘I’m a computer scientist. Is it on the bumpy bit?’
‘Er – ‘I looked at my leg. ‘Which is the bumpy bit? It’s maybe slightly proximal- I mean, up-leg, of the actual kneecap?’
‘Where you can feel a taut band running up the side of your leg?’
There was a pause. I wondered how to explain to Gareth that there has never been anything taut about the sides of my legs.
‘OK,’ said Gareth. ‘You’ve got iliotibial band fasciaitis.’
‘You need to do squats.’ He thought of something. ‘You do know how to do squats, don’t you…?’
Of course Gareth had had, and recovered from, IT band syndrome, weeks ago. He had diagnosed and treated it based on what he had found on the internet and had no sympathy for me.
It was late July before I next ran any distance. About two miles in, the now-familiar leg twinges began. When they became unbearable, I slowed to a walk. I did go ten miles, but it took nearly four hours. I’d been aiming to run twenty miles in that time.
The following week, Naomi and Gareth asked us round for a BBQ. I pretended I hadn’t been running again. Gareth, however, had his foot up on the table: he’d sprained his ankle a few days before, and then he’d run six miles on it.
‘Do you think he’s really injured,’ I ask Hubby later, ‘or do you think he thinks we’re better than we are and he’s trying to lull us into a false sense of security?’
‘What about Naomi?’ I say, hopefully. ‘I don’t really want to wish an injury on anyone, but you don’t think she might be pregnant, do you?’
‘Why? She doesn’t look pregnant,’ says hubby.
‘But she could be,’ I say. ‘If we were really, really lucky. I mean, she doesn’t look that pregnant even when she is pregnant, does she?’
Hubby sighs. ‘I don’t think it’d matter if she were’ he says. ‘Naomi’s already run twenty miles.