It's time to begin, now count it in, 5, 6, 7, 8. No, no, no! Not those Steps.
Hopefully, the thirteen colleagues I'm sharing this challenge with read this message. It is meant for you.
EVERY step, EVERY stride that you take from tomorrow will bring you closer to the finish. As Ellen Degeneres says 'just keep swimming'. 131 miles done. Regardless of how hard it is, may be or will be, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If yesterday, when I tweaked my back was 6 or 7 out of 10, when I finished it was a 5. This morning after a fitful sleep and after physio I'd probably come down to a 4. Finishing today, there was still a noticeable twinge but I've been moving so much freer. My time replicated the improvement in the level of pain and flexibility although it wasn't until Hawkshead Esthwaite Primary School that anything reminiscent of a running rhythm started to emerge. The sound of the children was the spark. We shared a little rendition of 'Oggy, Oggy, Oggy' and admittedly I shed a tiny happy tear. There's a chord deep within me that is struck when I hear the innocent happiness of children. I'm missing being with my children. The young-uns' at Hawkhead make such a huge difference to our week. No matter how tough those first few miles when you get to the village school the moments shared are over all too quickly.
The next 6 miles on the course are my favourite; you can hear the sounds of nature all around, hedgerow birds chattering and chirping, the buzz of a chainsaw in the forest, the cows and sheep in the field, the tinkle and trickle of the streams near to Esthwaite Water, the farmer toiling on his tractor, even occasionally the steam train near Newby Bridge. The smells are out in abundance too, this stretch is rich in flavour, a sensory pleasure. What added to the pleasure of today was the stretch from Newby Bridge towards Bowness. This part of the run is a rollercoaster with plenty of ups and downs but just after Fell Foot a glance to the left and the bluebells were out in all their glory, they stretched as far as the eye could see, well into the forest, on both sides in fact. You usually have to keep your wits about you here but the traffic wasn't too bad today and it was wonderful to enjoy the simple beauty of nature.
The surprises started first thing this morning. Usually the fifth marathon is Ladies Day when the male physios put dresses on for some light-hearted humour and to help keep our spirits high. As all the physios this year are female, it was amazing to see the effort that they'd all gone to, dressing up as Batman, the 118 brothers, a tiger (my own personal Tigger), Joe Exotic, Carol Baskin and more. It certainly bought a broad smile to my face.
By the way, my own personal Tigger sings like me! The tune is spoken not sung. She’s hilarious!
The spine eased up after getting a little hit of a 'runner's high' just after Hawkshead school, the shuffling seem to get easier and easier. At one point when I had the enjoyable company of Chris 'The Hip' Heaton, the pain was so manageable I was hitting a regular pace. Paying for it in spades tonight as I write this though. Hit the sack at 8:30pm but up at 5:30am to try and wake up and remember all of my daft thoughts. Hot water bottle on my back, loaned by the very kind Joni Southall and the uncomfortable twangs and tweaks are beginning to finally ease in my spine.
Prior to the 10in10, I'd promised my children that I'd get my hair cut. The idea was to be shorn and shaved to donate my covid curls to The Little Princess Trust. Once again the team came up trumps and several people volunteered time, scissors, shears, shaver and support to witness the little balding (sounds like a place name). Please look away now if you don't want to be disturbed by a grown man with four pigtails! Now, streamlined feeling decidedly like Shaun the Sheep. In fact I’ve got a Sheep’s Head for sale in honour of the shearing, all proceeds to Brathay, more details to follow.
Spine needed taping this morning. Why does it have to be in the shape of an H. Maybe, the universe is reminding me to take Steps forward?
'Foot kickin', finger clickin', leather slapping, hand clappin'
Hip bumpin', music thumpin', knee hitchin', heel and toe
Floor scuffin', leg shufflin', big grinnin', body spinnin'
Rompin' stompin', pumpin' jumpin', slidin', glidin' here we go
My boot scootin' baby is drivin' me crazy'