We all knew it was coming. After every endorphin rush, there’s a little crash. And after the excitement of finally moving into our house last weekend and a wonderful first exploratory run with the Husband, I’ve had a little emotional slump. No surprise, eh?
It’s all good, honestly. We love our house. We love being near our families – the Husband’s family came to visit this weekend, we got to celebrate his mum’s 75th birthday with her. My dad has ‘popped by’ twice – I can’t tell you how much I love living close enough that he can just ‘pop by’. But this week, I’ve been feeling a little flat. The skies have been grey (literally), it’s been drizzly and windy (our village seems to be a wind-tunnel that makes it much windier than even the next village along) and until our wifi is switched on next week, we’ve got really REALLY bad internet, which has made me feel a little isolated.
Moving is hard. The good thing is that the worst is over. We’re in our house, we’re settled, the boxes are unpacked, the cat has even started going out into the garden. Now we need to start building a life here. We need to start becoming part of the community and making friends rather than acquaintances. So I sprang into action and started making some tiny steps forward. The Sky cycling team talks about the ‘aggregation of minimal gains’ – how a thousand tiny incremental changes can nevertheless make for significant progress. That was my goal.
So I started seeking out community. I made contact with the local running club – I’ll be going there next week for the first time. I’ve worked out which of the very few local churches we should scope out and we’ll check out the first one this coming Sunday. I’ve emailed the one running mum at the Dude’s school and asked if she fancies going running next week with me. I’ve found a footie team for the Husband and a couple of sports clubs for the Dude. We have dates in our diaries for the first time.
I did a mini-audit of my social media feeds and deleted a number of people I was following on Instagram. (No, not you, I’d never delete you!). Beautiful photos of Colorado or Oregon (from people I don’t actually know in real life) used to inspire me. Now they make me a little grumpy and annoyed that I don’t have loads of running buddies and views of mountains. I’ve started seeking out other British runners on social media.
I think, somehow miraculously, I’ve found a redwood in my village. (If you’ve been reading here a while, you’ll know that the California redwood trees are very dear to my heart and I miss running in the redwood forests quite dreadfully). There’s a super-tall tree in the grounds of the manor house in the village, I saw it and wondered. So I keep running past it and gazing at its bark and I’m 90% sure it’s a redwood. I honestly nearly cried. I need to find out for sure.
I scoped out my regular 6-mile route and identified the one lane which is particularly risky for speeding cars. (Seriously people…on narrow lanes, just slow down).
I’ve found my running route for days when I only have half an hour – a steep little 1.5 mile climb on muddy, grassy, uneven ‘trail’ which is a fantastic workout in a short timespan.
I tested out my on-road long run route – it’s pretty, it’s undulating enough to keep me honest and there’s scope to add loops if I want to increase distance.
I drove to Swindon to check out one of the VERY few local running shops, Run Swindon. It’s tiny (the Bay Area has spoiled me a little) but they have a good shoe range and a solid if minimal, clothing and gear range. They were also lovely and friendly. It’s about 40 minutes’ drive away from home though, so that’s a pain.
I contacted parkrun to find out how I might start a parkrun here in Marlborough. It’s not as easy as I’d hoped – I think I need some friends before I try to do this.
The other thing that I’ve needed to tackle is my chicken-ness about running on trails alone. I was always too nervous to do that in California because mountain lions/rattlesnakes. We have none of those dangers in Wiltshire, so I know I need to woman up and step out of my comfort zone a little. There are fantastic ‘trails’ around here even if they are incredibly difficult to run due to the surfaces.
So today, I girded up my loins and headed out to run some trails. I purposefully chose a route that I’d hiked with the Husband a few weeks ago; knowing the trail gave me confidence I wouldn’t get lost at least. It turned out to be fantastic – I realised as I puffed up a hill that I wasn’t nervous or uncomfortable at all, I was just focussed on the running and, occasionally, on the views. I was inordinately proud of myself. And the views, even on a grey day, with clouds scudding overhead, were beautiful.
None of these steps are impressive. But add them together and you start to build a life. And that’s my goal for the next few months. To build a life.