Cheshire-Cat-Thomas and the early morning run

Tiddler’s favourite pyjama top is very faded.   All that remains is Thomas the Tank Engine’s disembodied face and funnel grinning out of a blue background where his body used to be.  Many’s the morning I’ve opened my eyes to this startling Thomas-Cheshire-cat, and to a jolly Tiddler grin just a short distance above it.

‘Morning, Mummy!’ shouts Tiddler cheerily.

I really hope I don’t scowl every time.  I try hard not to.

Tiddler might be a morning person, but I most definitely am not.

In fact, getting out of bed is usually the worst part of my day.  Having done so, I tend to be a grump. I flounder through the house getting ready, loosing things and snapping at people, before gradually stablising and stumbling out of the door.  When I’m not working, hubby plays with Tiddler first thing and Big Sprog and I tend to sleep for longer.  I can concentrate on anything at two in the morning, but at something-to-seven I am useless.

Anyway, did I tell you about my 10K?  The race is called the Percy Pud and it’s a little bit like Glastonbury in that at 7pm on the night of Monday 5th October, runners all over Sheffield waited in front of their computers for a special link to appear.  When it did, we all tried to register at once and met a frantic ‘loading’ signal…..

Still, with a bit of persistance I managed to get a place.

The Sheffield Striders, the club who organise the race, claim that what makes it so popular is the potential of the course for personal bests; or possibly the friendly, Christmassy atmosphere.  But we punters will tell you that we’re doing it because you get a Christmas pudding at the end.  This year, two-hundred-and-fifty runners registered within ten minutes of the link appearing; by the end of the night, it had sold out. Percy pud is definitely a race for people who know how to be quick….

Bea and I are getting quicker.  Yes: I’m running with a partner, the first time I’ve found someone to run with that’s been mutually convenient.  I proved too slow for Naomi, lived too far away for my friend Sarah, avoided roads too much for Becky and to take the hubby along would require a baby-sitter.  Bea and I rub along nicely though: Bea can set a pace well enough to stop me steaming off, getting ridiculously out of breath and having to stop in the first ten minutes, which is what I normally do on my own.  And she brings a gorgeous staffie along and we chat.  The only trouble is, finding a good time to run.

Bea, you see, has a business to run and two children to educate.  And I have to go to work.

‘How about 6.30 Thursday morning?’ asked Bea.  (Bea is a morning person, like Tiddler, only I don’t think she’s got a Cheshire-cat-Thomas pyjama top).

Fast-forward to Wednesday night.  I’d put myself to bed really early and lay there reading.  Hubby (who is actually the source of Tiddler’s early-morning genes – although he doesn’t wear pyjamas at all) let out a sudden loud guffaw.

I nearly jumped out of my skin.

‘What is it?’;

‘Is Bea really going to knock at our door at half-past-six in the morning to go running?’

‘Yes.  She just texted to confirm.’

‘And you’re going to get out of bed?’  He rolled over, snickering.

Actually, when Bea knocked on the door at 6.30am we were both out of bed, hubby completely starkers and scrabbling for a towel.  We were looking for a) the head torches I’d just put down somewhere before I went to the loo and b) the front door key, so we could let Bea in.

But to my utter surprise, I was almost smiling:  having gone to sleep at ten O’clock rather than my usual after-midnight, i was – if not full of beans – far from being empty.  So we went for a run and it was nice.  We started off in the dark but suddenly I noticed that it was not so dark as all that, and five minutes later I suddenly realised it was daylight.  How lovely!

We finished an hour after we’d started and I had just put the kettle on for a coffee before work when Tiddler came out creeping out of his room.  He was heading for my bedside to say Good Morning.

Then he looked up and saw me in the lounge already.  He grinned until his face cracked in two, Cheshire-Cat-Thomas grinning along with him.

And that morning, I found myself grinning right back.

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