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Life

Visitors, French Cafe Playlists, and a Week of Running Ahead

The sun is setting on a busy day. I’m sitting in the junk room, trying to gather my thoughts while sipping a cup of black coffee, and listening to a “Paris Café” playlist on Spotify. I’ve just pulled on a zipped hoodie – combating the after-effects of having caught the sun earlier in the day.

My in-laws visited today. My brother-in-law brought power-tools to help construct a raffia fence along the edge of the garden. My mother-in-law accompanied him to oversee operations, and to watch the tennis at Roland Garros with me (or at least, when I wasn’t cutting the grass, washing up, or washing up some more). We bonded over running injuries today – I showed her the lump on my achilles tendon, and she showed me her ankle – which apparently hurt, but looked fine. Thankfully my rugby playing daughters were not present, or it might have turned into a pop-up meeting of hypochondriacs anonymous.

While writing this, a Frenchman is expertly playing an accordian in quite the most wistful manner you might ever imagine. He has given way to a crooner singing about some disaster of the heart or other – I can’t understand a word of it, so can only imagine the subject of his anguish. Perhaps his girlfriend didn’t share her peanut M&Ms with him? (I would have been distraught too)

Anyway.

I have the week off work. The possibilities of how to spend the coming days are many, but I fear procrastination may defeat almost all of them. It’s not that I’ll waste my time off – I’ll find all manner of interesting things to do – I just won’t get around to many of the things I should perhaps have been doing. It’s interesting how the most mundane rabbit holes become increasingly interesting when faced with doing anything productive instead.

The one thing I will do during the week is run.

As mentioned a few days ago, I’ve re-started the “Couch to 5K” programme – partly to support a good friend, and partly to avoid my backside establishing it’s own gravitational force. I’m hoping that “Park Run” will be back up and running in the autumn – it will give me something to aim for – and something to do each weekend. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a pretty common international movement where parks organise 5K runs for all abilities – usually on a Saturday morning. You register on the park run website, get a barcode, and off you go. You can of course buy all manner of “official” merchandise – such as wristbands or waterbottles – or just print out the barcode and tuck it in your sock. Lots of people do.

I guess the attraction of doing an organised run is both to run in a group – where you get swept along by the crowd – and to have medical people on-site, should anything unfortunate happen – you know, like the town finding out you have no running talent. I’m pretty sure the town know I have no running talent, having seen me trudging the streets over the last few years – that’s not the point of running though.

There’s probably really good research on the huge release of endorphins after running. It’s hard to explain – you often feel like absolute garbage during a longer run – especially if pushing out to a longer distance – but afterwards a huge wave of euphoria sweeps through you. Body chemistry is an amazing thing.

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Life

Sunday

It’s been four days since I last emptied my head into the keyboard. Almost unheard of. A good friend mentioned earlier that she needs inspiration to write – I replied that in the past writing has often been my happy place. I guess a part of that comes from the chaos that typically surrounds me, and the solitude required to write. Finding a quiet room, and an hour to myself can sometimes be challenging.

This afternoon I’m sitting in the peace and quiet of the junk room (when not being summoned to help lift heavy things, or reach high-up things). We were out for most of the day at the final rugby fixture of the season – a “friendly” about half an hour from home. It seems odd calling it the “final” fixture, because there have only been a handful since lockdown restrictions were lifted somewhat. I wonder what the trickle-down effect of the pandemic will be over the next several years – for a generation of young people, twelve months has essentially been erased from their lives.

I re-started the “Couch to 5K” running programme last week, and everything went well through the first two runs – then somehow on Friday I managed to pull a muscle while reaching down to a clothes basket while hanging washing out, and did something to the achilles tendon on my right leg. It’s a bit swolen, but strangely hurts more while walking than it does while running. I’ll try stretching it over the next few days, and do the next few runs very slowly – to figure out if it’s getting better or worse. If push comes to shove I’ll get out on the bike instead of running for a while.

I watched the first episode of “Breaking Bad” late last night. I’m not really sure why I stayed so far away from it in the past – I guess part of it might be because it deals with drug culture. I’ve known people who fell into that world – it’s almost like a switch flicks in my head when the subject comes up, and I immediately lose interest. Seeing Bryan Cranston shout “F*CK YOU, AND F*CK YOUR EYEBROWS” was pretty funny though.

In other news an entire ant civilization seems to be trying to establish a foothold in our kitchen. Unfortunately for them we are armed with all manner of poisons – which are now distributed in “traps” at strategic locations about the place. It’s difficult – the first instinct is to exterminate them on-sight, but we really need them to take the poison back to the nest to wipe the rest out.

Anyway. I’m rambling.

If I haven’t commented on your blog for a few days, I can only apologise – I’ve been “out of the loop” for the last few days. I will be back. I always return. I just don’t always know how soon.

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Life

All Quiet on the Western Front

It’s been a remarkably quiet week in the Beckett household. I suppose the one stand-out achievement of the week has been gaining sight of the bottom of the clothes basket. It took two determined days of running the washing machine non-stop, but at least now I know there is an end to the clothes washing nightmare. I also know that the end does not last.

I’ve had the week off work. While not washing dishes, clothes, or putting things away behind people, I’ve been doing an awful lot of nothing at all. It turns out that while you’re locked down, there’s not much you can do to amuse yourself.

In the middle of the week my youngest daughter roped me into recording a workout with her for a school project. Five minutes of madness taking part in all manner of activities that could be completed in our living room. I learned a number of gravity assisted exercises, and wanted to die a few minutes later. Who knew that working from home for a year would make me quite so unfit?

I’m supposed to go for a run in the morning, but it’s below freezing tonight, and it’s due to snow tomorrow. I imagine the footpaths will be turned into ice rinks. I just checked the weather forecast – the snow isn’t due until 8am, so maybe we’ll be able to run before it arrives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and raid the cupboards for something to eat. I’ll probably end up eating cereal for supper – it’s my “go to” late night snack.

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Life

Another 5K around town

Following my youngest daughter signing up for the “Couch to 5K” programme through school, she has to complete the training runs each week, and her sisters promised to help her with it. We’re at week three, and I’ve already run with her twice after they no-showed on her.

Tonight we ran around town in the dark after I finished work – completing the week three run according to the programme, and then effectively doubling it. She was tired at the end, but then she’s starting from a position far ahead of her sisters. It says something that she was up and ready to run before breakfast this morning, and all she could get from her sisters was grunts from their bedroom doors.

Tomorrow she has to organise and run a workout session – and film it. Apparently I may end up as a ginea pig for that too – given that I have a few days off work. If our wonderful next door neighbour looks over the fence tomorrow, she’ll see me throwing kettle bells around, skipping, and collapsing in a heap somewhere.

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Life

Running on Sunday Morning

I went for a run around town with my youngest daughter this morning. She was supposed to be running with her sisters, but neither of them got out of bed. At 8am she appeared in the bedroom doorway, asking if I might go with her instead. My other half smiled at me.

She’s starting a “Couch to 5k” course with her school, and has been doing the official training programme with her sisters. Here’s the thing though – she’s far fitter than them. I proved it this morning – rather than do any of the interval training she has been doing, we just went out on a long slow jog – to see what she was really capable of.

She did three and a half kilometres. A few more weeks of the interval training, and I think she’ll get to five kilometres easily. As we passed a footpath that leads back towards home, I handed her my front door key and carried on to extend my distance a little – running for another three kilometres or so.

I love running early on a morning, before the rest of the world has emerged. This morning the streets were almost deserted, save for one or two people walking dogs, or out running themselves. I always say hello when passing fellow runners – they usually respond with a smile – occasionally they take no notice, and carry on frowning their way down the road. Grumpy buggers.

After getting home and having a shower I set about helping my daughter eat the remaining crumpets from the fridge – I bought them earlier in the week, during my first visit to the supermarket in about a month. I imagine I’ll be returning to town in a bit to get some more groceries. I’m not entirely sure I want to brave the cold again.

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Life

The Santa “Fun” Run

After sliding out of bed a little after 7am this morning, I wandered downstairs and dressed myself as Santa. Father Christmas. Saint Nicholas. Only a very low budget version – with a wonderful red suit that might rip in half if you bend over too quickly.

Ten minutes later two very sleepy daughters joined me in the kitchen and began dressing as mini-Santas to accompany me on a mad-cap escapade around town. Normally at this time of year you might find several thousand Santas running an organised route to raise money for charity – this morning it was just us.

I took a bit of a risk in wearing nothing but underwear and a t-shirt under the Santa suit. After the ass-ripping antics of last year, my other half questioned the choice. I grinned and shrugged. I didn’t figure on continual rain turning the already thin material into tissue paper en-route.

Along the way we received cheers from construction workers, beeps from delivery vans, and waves from people on foot. It was almost enough to keep my middle daughter running. Let’s just say she’s never going to find running easy – partly because of her build, but mostly because she gives up so easily. I’ve never known anybody with so little will power.

My youngest daughter ran the entire route at a canter – often doubling back with me and encouraging her sister. She also ran a final lap around the green where we live with me – making sure we covered 5K. Neighbours waved from windows as we passed.

So – it is done – the Santa Fun Run is completed for another year.

Good riddance.

Now where are the three ghosts that were foretold?

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Life

Running and Writing

I’m supposed to get up at 8am tomorrow morning and run around town in a Santa suit, accompanied by my younger daughters. I’m not quite sure how they’re going to do it given that they have not taken part in any activities you might describe as helping their fitness for weeks.

I’m starting to wonder if this is what growing up is all about – getting up and doing things you don’t really want to do, because somebody asked you to. It’s a bloody stupid idea really – running around dressed as Santa. I imagine it will give a few people a laugh around town.

If I wasn’t running (read:walking) with my daughters I imagine I would be home within half an hour – I can’t see us getting home inside an hour.

I was going to have a night off from writing tonight, but then something clicked in my head, and I spent the last two hours churning out another post for the other blog. It’s been cross posted to Medium, where I’m slowly but surely making money now. Let’s hope I don’t run out of things to write about any time soon.

It turns out it’s quite difficult to write after two glasses of wine. I’m wondering how Hemingway did it – I’m beginning to suspect the stories of drunken excess are lies.

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Life

I ran this morning

I ran this morning. After suggesting to Miss 16 that I could accompany her, I got up at 7am, pulled my shorts and shoes on, and was ready to go within minutes. I called up the stairs after her, and heard a murmur.

“I don’t want to go”

After quite some cajoling, and trying not to completely and utterly lose my shit with her, she got up, got dressed, and joined me outside.

I am continually amazed at how easily teenagers give up at anything that requires any will power, determination, effort, or hard work. It was SUCH hard work – trying to encourage her throughout the second half of the (shortened) route we eventually completed. I’m trying to talk her equally unfit sisters to run with her instead of me – because my encouragement is eventually seen as “going on”.

Anyway.

It’s nearly midnight again. How does that keep happening?

I started the day sitting in the lounge today – opposite my youngest daughter, who is doing schoolwork via Microsoft Teams for the remainder of term. She lasted an hour before vanishing off through the house. At lunchtime I switched back to sitting in the junk room on my own – given that it made very little difference which room I should sit in on my own.

This wasn’t a very exciting post, was it. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

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Life

Running on my Own

At dinner yesterday evening, my middle daughter put all sorts of plans in place to go running several times a week before college. I suggested I could go with her at perhaps 6:30am each morning – she suggested 6am. I rolled my eyes, and agreed.

After setting my alarm last night, and waking up at 6am, I rolled out of bed, pulled on some running shorts, and wandered over to her bedroom doorway. No response. I went downstairs, downed a glass of water, found my running shoes and coat, and got ready. Twenty minutes later, I made a final call. Still no answer.
I left the house at 6:30am on my own.

The last few runs have only been a couple of kilometres. I took it slowly (or so I thought), and headed out across town on the route that adds up to a little of five kilometres – listening to podcasts along the way. I shook my head at the coincidences that happen to me when out running – I think Chaos mathematicians would describe me as a “strange attractor”. I can be in the middle of nowhere, and not have seen a car for ages – but as soon as I need to set foot in the road, to pass a construction site, for example – cars will appear from all directions, at the precise point where the road is at it’s narrowest. It happened four times in five hundred yards this morning – the final instance nearly getting me run over.

I’m trying desperately to turn running into a habit. At the moment it’s still a victory of sorts for the “what you need to be doing” part of my brain over the “what you would like to be doing” part. I would like to have still been in bed. I did it though. Five and a half kilometres, with no “cheating” (no walking). Of course now I’ll be tired all day, but that’s a small price to pay in the good fight against having a backside the size of pluto.