Yesterday afternoon I headed out on a scheduled 5 mile run. There were dark clouds overhead but I figured, on current form, I could scoot round and be home and dry without a drop of rain touching me. How wrong I was. About 3 miles into the run I heard the first crack of thunder and looked skywards to see a foreboding sight. Angry, impenetrable clouds about to unload their watery contents onto the head of the foolish man who though he could outrun Mother Nature.
I kicked on but, truth be told, I was already struggling. Yes, it was a hilly and challenging course, but I think it was more mental than anything. This was one of the routes I used to run with my ‘best friend.’ A friend I don’t speak to anymore. The route brought back bad memories and presented a mental challenge I seemed unable to negotiate. I was effectively beaten long before the first fat raindrop landed on my forehead.
I took cover under a tree and flinched as the sky lit up with a streak of lightning. Much closer than I initially thought, it crossed my mind I could be in a spot of trouble. The rain was now bouncing off the road and the overhead foliage was doing little to keep me dry. My running gear was soaked through. I looked at my phone screen to see a missed call from Fionnuala. There was no way I was going to complete the run. I was stranded.
I returned her call and, in my most pathetic, whiny voice, asked if she could drive out and get me. Rebecca was worrying about her Daddy getting struck with lightning and Charlie the dog was going nuts, as animals do when thunder and lightning arrive. I stood on the roadside, a pathetic sight, waiting for my long suffering wife to arrive and rescue me. The crazy thing? By the time we arrived home, the storm had ceased as quickly as it had started. Northern Irish weather, huh?
I vowed to myself I would never run that route again. It was as if God didn’t want me to go down that road, to revisit a past I have worked so hard to walk away from. Even had the rains not come, I think I would have struggled to get round. My arms and legs felt heavy and dead the second I took the turn onto the road. The wrong turn. In future, I would stick to the flatter, boring courses I have come to love and cherish, where it rarely rains.
Running is as much mental as it is physical and yesterday was no exception. I thought I knew best, that I could outrun my past, but got it terribly wrong. I’m not as strong as I think I am and my ego got well and truly mangled as a result. It’s not the first time Fionnuala has rescued me from a self inflicted pickle and it won’t be the last. She’s had 23 years practice and still I think Stephen knows best. Stephen doesn’t know best.
Are you in a pickle? Have you taken the wrong turn and now find yourself huddled by the side of the road utterly exposed as a tumultuous thrall threatens to wipe you out. Here’s my advice. There’s always a call you can make. There’s that one person you can reach out to, who will be there in the blink of an eye, dropping everything to charge to your rescue. It can be a family member, a friend, a work colleague. Just swallow your pride and make the call.
Some roads are not meant to be revisited. Only fools tread there, hellbent on drowning in the dark waters of pasts we need not wade through. Stick to what you know, do not stray for that is where you will stutter, stumble and succumb to thoughts and memories which no longer belong within your being. For you are better than that, you deserve better than that. Freedom comes at a price, but it’s a price worth paying.