I placed my right foot on the next step in front of me, my heart pounding, my lungs working over time as my chest expanded and contracted at a rapid rate taking in air as quick as I could, my legs trying to lift my feet off the floor as I looked up the hill in front of me. It was bad enough the first time round but now on the second lap it was a killer. Internal confusion as I swore at the hill but at the same time I was grateful to be in this wonderful position of self inflicted suffering. I focussed on the blue t-shirted figure in front of me, a Manchester marathon shirt, significant beyond words in a week of remembrance, solidarity and celebration of life and doing what we as decent human beings do. The man wearing it meant all of those things to me, he turned at the top of the hill and shouted “come on Holgs”, I smiled through grasped breath and ran along side him. He was gracious enough to wait for me. A true Viking warrior, granted he looked nothing like Chris Hemsworth, but he certainly was Widnes’s finest.
Viking and I have history, well documented history….after all….”It’s all Vikings Fault”
The last time we had run together had been the 2012 Outlaw triathlon. We exchanged words and a hug that afternoon before he ran away from me like I was standing still, which in reality I was. This past Saturday I had managed to keep up with him for most of the Parkrun. His 180th at 50 different locations, and my 29th. I wasn’t even in the same league when it comes to Parkrun experience but that’s the beauty of Parkrun and indeed lasting friendship, no one gives a shit, inclusivity rules.
We ran towards the finish line in typical British fashion, “after you mate”, “no, after you Holgs”…repeat several times. In the end for the first time that morning I stepped in front of my mate, if not I fear we would still be there arguing over who would go first.
A huge hug as we finished and then he said “Without a doubt that is the hardest Parkrun I’ve done, but stunning.” This was good to hear, made my legs and lungs feel a little better. It felt good to be back running again after my recent illness and it felt right to be sharing that once again with the man who had shared the experience of the Woody and Frankfurt with me. We really should do this more often we agreed over coffee afterwards with my family and Vikings friend Andrea who amazingly was doing her 198th Parkrun. She’ll be doing her 199th this Saturday before running a track marathon in Warrington. Amazing nutter.
It was the perfect end to the week that saw me put 19 miles in the bank on my softly softly journey back to getting into healthy running on the path to my October ultra.
A welcome Viking invasion in which I offered no resistance.