Monday, 9 April 2012


I stood at the bottom of the steps leading up St Catherine's Hill. I'd just run up and walked down and now I was contemplating running up again. There are 330 steps and they get steeper the higher you go. Of course I wasn't fit enough to run them again. Then I remembered I wasn't fit enough the first time. It isn't your legs and your lungs that get you up there - it's your mind.

So tonight I ran. I ran to feel my heart beat, to feel my blood race, to breathe. I ran too far, too fast. Fast enough, perhaps, to even lose my mind. For that moment in time I was my own limiting factor. It felt like pure, unstoppable escapism.

Tomorrow I will ache, tomorrow my persistent cough will worsen. Tomorrow I will remember the previous damage - the black knee, the bruised foot - and will regret it. Tomorrow I will be slow and I will think.

In all likelihood I will consider what happiness looks like to an average runner, an average lover, an average mother, an average employee, and how it might best be achieved.

On Saturday night a friend, who has recently had her first baby, told me it won't make sense for her to return to work. I used to work with her, so I know her talent and have watched her painstakingly build her career over the years. We talked it over, trying (and failing) to make sense of this surprising turn of events.

Perhaps this is why today I have been beset by that familiar feeling that what matters is not the taking part but the sense of winning. And that you have to be a loser before you can be a winner. Sometimes it seems as if we spend our lives wilfully knocking things down in order to build ourselves back up.

I got to the top of the steps. I took in the view. And I turned and walked down again.