This morning was our 28 km run. Starting at 6:16 am we would run out along Chapman’s Peak drive and back – a slightly challenging and exquisitely beautiful route. The weather is glorious. A perfect day for a long, long run.
And I was on it. Organised. I was not being caught short this time. So yesterday afternoon, after collecting The Kid (lugubrious after some high school teenage drama during the day) from school, I drove past the shop to stock up on some salted caramel GUs, as recommended by Firstborn Daughter. The salted caramel is the best flavour, she insisted. It got her through the Rome Marathon, and if it did that for her, imagine what it could do for me.
Then, last night I took the dogs for a gentle walk, taking care to keep my legs rested for today. I had taken Thursday as a rest day as well, after my twitching, aching legs kept me awake on Wednesday night. I had done three days of combining 10 km runs with 45-minute spin classes at gym, and I figured a little rest would be more beneficial to today’s long run than more running would be.
After shoe-horning the family out the door and into the night, I made myself a delicious supper of zoodles and coriander pesto with just a taste of chilli. All FODMAP and good for the gut. And, rather virtuously, I washed it down with a glass of water instead of the sauvignon blanc my mind had wandered towards during the walk, and settled down to crochet in front of Come Dine With Me Supersized. Seriously! I did! I spent a Friday night all on my own, feet up on the coffee table, surrounded by my dogs and cats, with a crochet hook, some balls of yarn, a glass of water and the TV!
I made sure that all of today’s clothes were set out, gels and sunscreen lined up, cellphone, Garmin, iPod and GoPro charged and ready. I set the chia seeds to soak in a cup of almond milk so that it would be nice and thick for my morning smoothie. I even had a set of fresh clothes and cash at the ready for the coffee afterwards. The TV was switched off at ten and, in preparation for a good night’s sleep, I downed a glass of fizzy Slow-Mag and got ready to go to bed with a cup of chamomile tea.
But not so fast!
Just before I could tuck in under the duvet and let sleep wash over me, the Significant Other and The Kid came banging home from dinner at the Dragon-in-law. There were stories to tell. An excited, high-energy account of the evening’s drama was shared, both talking loudly and over each other, expecting input from me, even as they neglected to pause for breath. My semi-sleep state evaporated with the steam of my chamomile tea.
Eventually I made it to bed. I would sleep in Firstborn Daughter’s bed so that I could be up at five o’clock and not disturb the Significant Other, who was running at eight o’clock. But the main reason I was sleeping in Firstborn Daughter’s bed was so that I could actually get some sleep and not lie awake listening to the deep base of Nocturnal Symphony #12 054 being performed through his nasal passages.
I slipped in under the covers, read a page or two on my Kindle, checked that my alarm was set for five o’clock and switched off the light.
Then the pitbull jumped onto the bed, did two or three turns and dropped – dropped – down on top of my chest.
‘Huh-ngnnn!’ I said.
He took that as a sign of welcome, flopped his heavy head onto my shoulder and started snoring next to my ear. Next the puppy jumped onto the bed, walked in circles for a while, and settled down with his head on my leg. Shortly after, Number One Cat came to sit at my head and purr loudly.
‘I can sleep like this,’ I tell myself. ‘I can.’
But then something happened. I don’t know what. Something important that required guarding. Both dogs leapt from the bed and scrambled along the wooden floors to go and bark in the lounge.
Their property and family thus protected, the perimeter secured, they returned, running back into the room, leaping onto the bed, walking in circles and falling back into their original positions.
‘Huh-ngnnn!’ I said.
Then the pitbull decided that he had some unfinished business. Up he got. The puppy followed. I repositioned myself. Gathered some duvet around me. Shoved the cat out of the way. Rolled over again. Then rolled onto my back. I will get comfortable. I will sleep.
Next thing, before I could register what was happening, the puppy jumped onto the bed, gathered himself into crouching tiger position, and leaped onto my gut, two front paws thudding into my solar plexus.
‘Ha-uh-ngnnn!’ I said. ‘Sweet cheezis crust!’
At some stage, eventually, everyone settled down. I remained pinned under the pitty. For some reason he needed to sleep on top of me – if not with his whole body, then at least with his head. The pupsy needed his head on my leg. Both cats had to be on the bed too. It was a rough and crowded night.
And the glass of Slow-Mag and cup of chamomile had made their way to my bladder. I can sleep through this, I thought. I can sleep through this. Focus on the run. Visualise yourself doing the distance. Nice and easy. Easy, light and smooth … where had I read that? A slideshow of technicolour images of Chapman’s Peak Drive slipped through my mind. And there I was, on that long, winding road, Camelbak on my back, iPod in my ears, plodding away … no, no, not plodding! Gliding! Come on, make yourself glide. Gazelle!
But the bladder wouldn’t shut up. So up I got, stressing about the sleep I wasn’t getting, telling myself it’s okay, don’t stress, you can sleep as much as you like afterwards.
I slept fitfully. And then soundly. Most soundly, I presume, at around five o’clock when my alarm was meant to go off (but didn’t go off). And still most soundly at around six o’clock, when a second alarm, which I had forgotten to disable, went off.
Instead, I woke up to birdsong.
And too much light.
It was seven o’clock.
I had missed the run.
Not a problem, you might say. You can still run. Just get up and go. Yep. Sure. Except The Kid has to get to music lessons at eleven o’clock. The Significant Other can’t take her, because he’s running too. His run, far more intelligently, was scheduled for eight o’clock. I text Firstborn Daughter and ask her to do the music run. Hm. She ‘should be back in time’, she says, as they’re running in Cecilia Forest this morning. I can’t rely on ‘should’. I need to know that things are sorted out. So I’ll do dishes this morning instead. Then take The Kid to music. And then plan to run later on today.
So here I sit, dressed in my running kit, ready to go but going nowhere. The Cape Town Marathon is four weeks away. My last long run, at 21 km, was two weeks ago. Since then some odd low-grade bug that sapped my energy, pulled the handbrake up on my training. I’ve missed numerous runs and, when I have run, I have struggled, struggled to the point of needing to walk, through 8, 10 or 12 km. So I really needed this morning’s 28 km. And, mostly, I needed to do it with the support of a smiling, friendly group of runners all filled with spirit and positive attitude and camaraderie. I wanted to be there for the coffee and the stories afterwards. I wanted to be part of the group photo, for a change. I wanted to exchange banter. I just wanted to be there.
But, nope. The Lone Walker continues as the Lone Runner.
I am such a moegoe!