5/16/2013 9:30 AM
By Paul Willgoss
One race cancelled due to the weather.
One event foreshortened due to an error on my part.
Thank you for the good luck wishes. Some things just aren’t meant to be.
It would be easy to draw the analogies to living with CHD, the sense of not knowing whether something is going to happen, and if it does happen—will it work as promised?
We, this crazy community of ours, live with uncertainty more than most and whilst I genuinely believe we are normal, we do tend to have a more reflective bent—we’d burn up if we emoted with the full force of our feelings to every event that knocks us sideways.
I’ve said before I channel some of those emotions through my running and walking. Others I know do meditation, painting, even knitting. Now I’m not claiming that we all need to do something meditative, but sometimes it may just help…
So, how did I deal with my frustrations? A 9-mile night hike, with 1,500 feet of up and down. Full-on head torch and careful foot placement as some of the paths I was on were rubble strewn “green lanes”—that weird combination in England of footpath, bridleway and “if you can get a 4x4 up there” road. Three and a half hours of absolute concentration—knowing rolling an ankle badly would mean that the local mountain rescue would be having their Friday nights disturbed—helped clear the fog of frustration. Throw in the swooping of an owl, the rabbits and hares scuttling across my path and I become a very mellow, albeit focused, walker.
Walking done, time to regain my runner’s badges. A trip to a running shop to try out the latest offerings of the companies I give so much money to is a must—and should be a must for anyone thinking of taking up running. You might be lucky and get shoes that work with your feet, ankles and knees and you might not. I spent a good half hour checking my gait with fancy video tech and a range of shoes. I’m an overpronator, right leg more than left—so to the support shoes I go, with a “do not pass go and do not collect £200.”
Which, fortunately, isn’t how much they cost me. However, if you are thinking of taking up running, invest in your footwear more than anything else—most other bits you can pick up in sales at any time and cheap versions work almost as well as the branded versions. That said, if you find a brand that works for you then feeling good is half the battle won—which is a weak justification for my accidental purchase of TNF ultra marathon shorts. But they are comfortable, if a little tight!
New shoes, new shorts. My excitement levels are always higher with new toys! So a slow, weary 5 k.m. around the streets on Sunday afternoon, and, as Monday is a Bank Holiday in the U.K. (I think it’s the equivalent of the U.S .Labor day, but don’t quote me on that!), what I thought was going to be a slog of a 10 miler.
And a slog it was. The first 5 miles were slow, 63 minutes—my 5-mile personal best is 50 minutes. It was warm, and it was humid running along the trail I tend to use for slogs; however, that was silly. So I picked my feet up and started remembering why I run, and how I run, and at what pace I can run. A second 5 miles with more hills, taking 58 minutes, bought me home in 2 hours and 1 minute. And yes, the runner is back – I’m annoyed by that minute.
Analogies? Yeah, life is like a box of chocolates—some days you get the weird strawberry ones that no one likes and other days you get the coffee ones that only you like! Most importantly, you can be frustrated by life, but with a bit of belief you might be able to get out there and do something you enjoy… even if that minute bugs you!
Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.
Copyright ©2013 ACHA