A Word

Just a half: Training has helped me fall in love

by Jacqueline Alexander
First published in the Henley Standard newspaper

FAWLEY has now been added to that list of special words beginning with the letter 'F' and, while running up Fawley Hill, I was tempted to use one of the other 'F' words on more than one occasion.

Having lived in Henley for 10 years, I thought that gentle slope on the road passing Fawley Court and Toad Hall was the hill. It should be because the monster that hides in the fields to the left is no hill. It's Middle England's very own Everest.

Jacqueline Alexander in training.

Sam and I set off into the unknown early on Saturday morning. She strode off in her normal determined fashion as I tried to find a pace that would negate any threat of the dreaded stitch. Richard, our trainer, ran with us to the bottom of "Everest" and then disappeared to find a third runner who was late and trying to catch up.

Initially, Sam and I ran up the hill but as each bend revealed even more uphill struggles, I selected a brisk walking pace. Sam continued to run but didn't seem to gain much distance and then joined me in my more sensible approach. At the top we stopped to debate direction. Sam was not happy. "We're lost," she exclaimed. I reassured her that we were just outside Henley and not in the middle of the Maasai Mara but she was unreceptive.

Then something magical happened. I started running again. Admittedly, at first it was downhill but then it was uphill, flat, downhill, uphill again and I was still running. Had my body been invaded by a long-distance runner? Had thoughts of Kenya brought out the running beast in me?

Whatever it was, it continued to spur me on. I was running in front of Sam. What was going on?

Richard soon caught up with us and after he gave me a sip of water I actually insisted on running further because I could. Confused but happy, I ran on. As we reached the Fair Mile, it stopped being comfortable. Sam took great delight in whizzing past me and I struggled to keep running for another mile.

Just as we approached the town, Richard encouraged me to find a new pace and I grimaced my way past Sam. "I'm not having that!" she exclaimed and promptly sped past me again in the last few metres.

It didn't matter. I was dazed and confused but I had found something that I didn't know I had. Apparently, a runner has moved in with me. I don't know how long she'll stay but hopefully it will be until October 11. Then I'll kick her out.

Next: Oh no! Am I starting to enjoy this?

Copyright: Jacqueline Alexander 2012

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