It has been a very long time since I visited my blog. The thrills of the Reading half marathon and the weeks of preparation leading up to the race seem like a distant memory of the past. Talking about not having been on my blog for ages, probably this will be the only update for a while again as I am – hold your breath – getting M-A-R-R-I-E-D on Monday!! Woo-hooo!
April and May have been really busy months at work – typically, this is the busiest period for HR because everything seems to happen during these two months. Sometimes I felt so much under pressure that I did start to struggle finding motivation to go out for a run or go to the gym after work, or do anything else after work for that matter. Thank God, my three week holiday has started today and I am trying to detox my spirit and soul and forget what it is like when the lump in your throat sticks around the whole day and you are so stressed that you feel like crying or actually end up crying in your car on your way home from work . The feeling when you are so tired mentally and spiritually (and perhaps physically as well for lack of good quality sleep) that you lose interest in everything that mattered/matters to you and you slowly transform into a miserable being, only a shadow of your former self. I thank God that this is all over now and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and let happiness, excitement and positivity flood into my life.
Given it is supposed to be a fitness and health blog, I do not want to do too much soul-searching here but focus on how exercise and in particular, running has helped me through the worst of it all and helped me maintain my sanity. Firstly, I have to say that no matter how much effort it took for me to drag myself outside sometimes, I can’t remember that I have ever regretted a run!
Four particular runs have stuck in my memory:
The first one was when I went out one Sunday afternoon, leaving my run way too late after Sunday lunch with Simon’s family. I knew that the forecast predicted rain that afternoon but I decided to take my chances and go anyways. I followed one of my favourite routes, a cycle path behind the hills in Saunderton leading into the beautiful historic village of West Wycombe then back to my house on Wycombe Road. I remember I could smell the rain just before it started. The air felt humid and heavy, full of expectation, like a hot bubble, ready to burst with cool showers. Almost like electricity. I could see in the distance the clouds were heavy with showers, paining the sky into a darker shade of blue – turning it into a huge shower curtain over the landscape. I knew I was running away and into the rain at the same time as I was following a circular path, it was like chasing someone who was chasing you at the same time. I observed the cars coming towards me had wet windscreens and I knew it was only a matter of time to get wet…How wet, that was a different question. Upon reaching the “shower curtain”, I felt the refreshing touch of rain on my skin. As it got heavier, I got soaked completely but I quickly reached a point where it did not matter any more! Hail started to fall and I could feel the tingle on my face and my arms, and in a surreal way, I found it very invigorating. Running became even harder, my shoes grinding the small ice particles on the pavement – it was like fighting the elements, running against a force bigger than you. My former fears about getting wet were completely washed away (note the pun here!) and I started to experience a new dimension of freedom…Somehow I have lost all my inhibitions and I found myself spreading out my arms and turning my face towards the sky, welcoming the rain and the hail. Not sure what the drivers who went past me thought…
The second run happened also on a Sunday, at the end of my hen weekend. That day me and my girlfriends spent a relaxing and cosy day in Stoke Park spa. It was a rainy and wet day, but on my way home, the rain suddenly stopped, the clouds opened and rays of sunlight cut through the gaps. It was already later than I would normally go out for a run, around 7-ish, but knowing there would be plenty of daylight for at least another hour, I put on my running gear and I was out of the door as soon as I got back home. I chose my favourite route through Bradenham Woods Lane into Walters Ash and Lacey Green then cut it short by coming back on Little Lane. This turned out to be an excellent choice, as I found myself running into a giant rainbow connecting Saunderton with Walters Ash behind the crop fields. I don’t remember ever seeing such a clear and huge rainbow! I could not help but marvel at it and thinking that a rainbow on my hen weekend surely must be a good sign from God – in Genesis 9:15-16, at the end of the great flood, God told Noah and his Sons “I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” It is a perfect reminder of God’s protection and the keeping of His promises. But the rainbow was not the only phenomenon that took away my breath that day… As dusk was coming, everything settled into a stillness, the sun started to sink behind the horizon, casting endlessly long shadows onto the wavy crop fields and glazing everything into darker but warmer shades, turning my run into an otherwordly experience.
My third run also happened on a Sunday morning, the weekend Simon was in Malta doing his diving course. I got up earlier than usual – my eyes tend to literally pop open around 8am on weekends, and from that point on, I can’t easily settle back into sleep. So, as the logical flow of events go in my world, by 9am I was out of the door, following the same route as described above. It is actually great to go out that early, because most people are still asleep and there is virtually no traffic anywhere, so it is quiet and peaceful. About half way on the route, the crisp morning air filled up with wetness – almost dew like wetness, a touch of drizzle. I discovered that I love running in drizzle – it is refreshing, and cools me off without making my clothes heavy with wetness but giving me the extra edge to power through the run. I had a number of runs during my most stressful periods at work in April and early May where I felt so drained of all energy that any form of exercise made me feel nauseous. That morning was one of the first times when I felt energetic during a run, it was like a “come back” for an athlete. I am not sure exactly what made that difference on that particular day, but I felt like a thirsty flower soaking up the rain and the nutrients.
Finally, the fourth run happened straight after my early morning photo shoot with Graham in the yellow flower fields near where I live – guess what day! Yes, on a Sunday – is there a pattern here? Even though I was tired after starting my day at 5am, I was obviously on an emotional high, full of happiness and adrenaline after this amazing pre-wedding photo-shoot. (My friends on Facebook can view a selection of pictures on my Facebook timeline). Again, it was still early, before 9am and I was filled with calmness and peace during my run. As I was running up Bradenham Woods Lane, it felt like an invisible energy was towing me up that hill – my heart was beating hard in my chest, but without the sickening lightheadedness, ear ringing and weakness, which sometimes takes over when I am tired and working myself too hard. I have to say I have never rocked that hill that hard! The sun reached the top of the trees, and as the light was seeping through the leaves and branches, it scattered tiny glowing patterns onto the road in front of my feet. I felt so in awe of this moment that all I could do is spread our my arms and thanked God I felt so alive.
Running has opened up something beautiful in me in the midst of the toughest months at work. During times when I felt really stressed and down, I experienced the transforming power of running which helped me draw closer to God.
Are there any memorable runs that stuck in your memory? In what ways has running or a type of activity/sport helped you feel better about yourself and your circumstances?