Run rabbit run…

In a little over ten hours from now I will be arriving in the market square in Kingston upon Thames dressed in my running gear and weather-appropriate additions such as hats, gloves, coats, scarves, double duvets etc (sadly I was joking about the duvet), in preparation for the Wholefoods Breakfast Run – a 16 mile jaunt from Kingston to Hampton Court Palace (twice). Despite being officially spring time in England the forecast is for below freezing temperatures and snow – wonderful. Needless to say I’m now regretting every night I chose to do a training run inside because conditions outside were too cold – not one of those occasions was as cold as this will be, so bravo me for having no practice of running in sub-zero temperatures whatsoever.

Still, if my past experience of competing in triathlons is anything to go by (and last September’s London Triathlon was pretty damn chilly let me tell you) the atmosphere and camaraderie (plus the massive bowl of rice pudding and banana I’m planning to consume at 6.30am, the packet of Dextro energy tables and Powerade I’ll be gobbling down throughout and the stonking dance play list I’ve compiled on my MP3 player especially for the occasion) will see me through – that and the thought of a nice relaxing afternoon in front of the fire afterwards.

My mother thinks I’ve taken leave of my senses with all these challenges, but, bless her, she (and my step father)’s still braving the elements to come and cheer me over the finish line. The night before a race I have to admit I do question the reason why I put myself through it, but as soon as I cross the finish line I always feel a sense of elation. There’s nothing quite like pushing yourself to the limit physically. I never, ever thought I’d say that, but it’s true. In my opinion it’s the best way to feel really and truly alive.

Wish me luck…

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This was taken after my second sprint distance triathlon in 2010. I didn’t actually win, it was an opportunistic photo, but nonetheless I was proud of my achievement! Something tells me I’m going to have to wrap up warmer than that tomorrow if I want to avoid hypothermia…

 

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History

The pub was steeped in history. Charlotte could feel it the moment she walked through the door. She stooped so as not to hit her head on the dark wooden beams, which were bedecked with brass casts of horse shoes and other relics of the time in which the building was conceived. There was a coat rack by the door, which she duly deposited her rain-soaked jacket onto. She turned around and waited for her eyes to adjust to the dimly lit room before approaching the bar. The floor was carpeted, a crimson blanket, the windows partially obscured by heavy velvet drapes of the same colour. Oil lamps burned on every table, the light barely filtering through their thick glass shades. In the hearth a log fire crackled and hissed, sending thick plumes of smoke into the chimney chute about it.

Charlotte took a step towards the bar and faltered, feeling suddenly anxious. Her skin prickled, the hairs standing up for no discernible reason. She surveyed the room again. Only two of the mahogany tables were occupied, one by a middle-aged man who was engrossed in the crossword, the other by a family of four, the parents struggling to control their hyperactive children. Charlotte looked at her watch. It was only quarter past twelve. She supposed the lunchtime rush would soon start, though there was no sign of it yet. Despite the man and family sitting to her left, Charlotte felt disquietingly alone.

A movement out of the corner of her eye made her jump. Her breathing quickened as her eyes darted to the right. She squinted into the dark corner of the room. There was nothing there. She took a deep breath and walked towards the bar, reaching a hand out to steady herself as a wave of nausea came over her. The clinking of glasses alerted her to the presence of a girl, about her age, who was walking out of the kitchen. She stopped when she saw Charlotte, put the glasses down, smiled and asked if she could help. Charlotte ordered an orange juice and fumbled in her purse to find the coins to pay. When the drink arrived a sudden thirst took hold of her and she swallowed it in one go.

It was then she saw him. He stood on the staircase to the right of the bar, so still he could have been a statue. His hair was smoothed against his head, his shirt freshly pressed. Charlotte’s heart hammered in her chest. She looked at the girl behind the bar, who had gone back to cleaning glasses. Did she not see? Then back to his face, weathered and beaten. His dark eyes bored into her. His mouth, lips slightly parted, seemed wanting to form words to speak.

She got there first.

“Hello Dad. It’s been a while.”

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I thought this image was a befitting accompaniment to today’s post. I took it in a makeshift cinema in Vashisht, a hillside village in northern India which is a haven for backpackers. The man in the picture ran the cinema, which was little more than a room with a flat screen television and cushions scattered on the floor. His daughter was so beautiful, like a little china doll. I was quite captivated.