So, I didn't do the race. I was all set to and just about feeling prepared. But the weather forecast was horrible - cold and windy and cold some more. It was an hour and a half drive away and then a bus ride, probably, as we weren't supposed to park at the race start. That meant over three hours in the car for all of us and the children and my partner waiting around for at least another two. If they dropped me at the race venue and went to the local town for breakfast, they may not have been able to get back to pick me up, necessitating a bus ride back for me, rapidly chilling off in my kit. It just didn't seem to be the spring day out I'd imagined when I booked a place in December.
But, this has been my main running goal since the New Year and was to serve as an important bench-mark, and, hopefully, an encouragement on my road to the Swaledale Marathon.
We opted for a simple solution. I ran 13.1 miles from a little way from home to our local town, via the road over the moor from Swaledale to Wensleydale. It's a tough route. Over the moor is not a phrase to be read lightly. It's up-hill, a long way, about 300m of ascent. And it was cold. And snowy. I did it. The children and my partner were there to greet me and congratulate me and we all went and had breakfast in our favourite cafe.
Did it count? Count for what? Was it cheating? Cheating what? It makes me aware of how much I hand my sense of achievement over to others, how much I desire some kind of official "approval" or certification. I ran the distance. I loved the views. I was happy with my fitness and my time. That is enough. But still there is a shadow of failure, a sense of not having done it quite right: I didn't actually do the race. I find it difficult to keep up my running without set goals and running is very much part of how I view myself - a fact which I am uncomfortable examining. It's hard to look at, as is the question of why I run: To be healthy? To stay slim? To impress? Because I enjoy the freedom? Because I feel good afterwards? Because it is an amazing way to get out and about into the countryside, the outdoors? Because it is part of how I view myself and I'm not so sure who I am if I don't?
Good reasons, bad reasons? The truth is that sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. I'm not perfect and, like almost every other Western woman, I worry about my weight; I am also vain and competitive. But I do love running and I miss it when I'm actually prevented from doing it. Perhaps as I grow and mature (!) my reasons will purify or I will let go of this thing that has as much of a hold on me as I do on it. Or maybe I won't.