I’m writing this from my parent’s living room in Northampton. Yes, that’s right, Northampton. Northampton in the Midlands. Northampton in the middle of the country. Northampton, about as far from the sea as you can possibly get.
It definitely wasn’t part of the plan to end up here. It wasn’t part of the plan right up until lunchtime today. This morning, as Storm Frank raged outside and I had a mild meltdown inside, I was still planning to head back to Looe to start running again. It was reasonably far down the list of things that seemed fun but it was still something that was happening. But then, before I quite realised I had even made the decision, I was crammed in the back of my mum’s car along with a selection of muddy footwear and board games and all the chocolate in the world and we were driving out of Cornwall. Seven hours later, we were in Northampton. I was home.
No, not part of the plan at all. They say that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans though, and I guess that today life wanted to whisk me away down the M5 in a Suzuki Swift. I just had a gut feeling that it was too soon to press play again on the adventure and, given that we passed the furthest-I’ve-ever-ran distance weeks ago and we’re now operating solely in unknown territory, gut feeling is about all I’ve got to go with. So I went with it, and it brought me here.
I walked through the front door, went to look at my bed (which turned out to be completely full of teddies after my niece came for a sleepover last week) and then, on some kind of strange, nutrient driven autopilot, immediately started chopping vegetables. I made soup and drank two cups of green tea followed by a beer and some more chocolate and now we’re watching Paddington the movie. The heady cocktail of vitamins, sugar, antioxidants and alcohol in combination with a heart wrenching tale about an animated bear seem to have done me good and I feel calm again. Calm – and happier too.
Plan or no plan, not running today was the right thing to do. The section of the Cornish coast path I was heading towards involved quite long stretches between towns and at this time of year, lots of the guesthouses etc which are dotted between are closed. On the back of the injured leg, it would have been idiotic to jump straight back into consecutive twenty mile days. We’re in this for the long haul, after all. And if I was going to be just hanging around, not really running much, it was pretty silly to stubbornly stick it out in Cornwall when I could be doing all that for free at home, with the bonus of some company.
I’ll be taking a few days to recover from my Christmas binge and to build back up with some short, flat runs. I also seem to have acquired an unholy amount of junk over the past few weeks so plan to shed about 70% of my backpack weight, which has no doubt been a major contributor to the aches and pains. Then at some point early next week, I’ll get the train back down South, return to Looe and finally, two weeks later than planned, pick up where I left off. And the funny thing is, as soon as we started to edge towards home, I felt something tugging, pulling me back.
I’m happy to be home but I know where I really want to be and that’s back by the sea, chipping away at those 5000 miles. I already feel excited to get back to it and that’s just the way it should be. This adventure is fuelled by enthusiasm, excitement and sheer pinch-me-this-is-so-great joy. It’s often going to be hard and challenging, no doubt about it, but I’ve realised that as soon as it starts to feel like a chore, that is a problem that needs addressing. And it needs addressing straight away, that very second, not three weeks later.
If you enjoyed reading this and you’re feeling generous, it would mean the world to me if you would consider sparing a few pennies for my chosen charities Young Minds and Beyond Food. You can do so by donating here –http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/runthecoast