The London to Brighton Bike Ride always seems to coincide with Fathers’ Day. Between the challenges of crossing the route and facing the traffic queues, this means that I rarely see my Dad on the day, as was the case today!
Instead, I always used to run to the top of Ditchling Beacon as a nod to the one time (twenty-five years ago now) that I completed the ride and though I’ve not run more than six or seven miles at a time recently, I decided to capitalise on the opportunity of a bright but cool day.
I ran out on to the Common and realised that I could easily run along the road beside the cyclists… the road is one of those typical West Sussex ones that is perilous to walkers or runners, so it was nice to take this different route for a change.
I ran all the way down into Ditchling and then as far as the bottom of the Beacon… from here the road gets clogged with cyclists walking or trying to keep their momentum going, so a runner would not be at all welcome.
Thus I branched right and took the route that Cliff showed me when he was raising the money to go on Operation Raleigh… probably more than 25 years ago, though I still remember it clearly! He was running up this (very steep) path enough times to simulate the hight of Everest and I joined him on the final two or three.
I generally prefer the more gentle and winding climb on the other side of the road, but it was a fun challenge and I managed bottom to top with only very brief pauses for a gate and photo opportunities.
Then I dropped back down to the cyclists and wondered how many of them I had beaten to the top.
I ran back down my normal path, into the back of Ditching and straight up through the fields back to the Common. This time of year there are lots of gates of various types to negotiate… they are there to stop the chickens joining the run. It’s a really pretty route.
By the time I got back to Burgess Hill my legs were starting to fade, but not so much that I was really struggling (I have experienced this before!). This might have had something to do with the FireStar sachet (essentially a sachet of caffeine) that I had taken on the way down the Beacon… compared to the alternatives, this is not a bad option. I’ve been using these sachets for a few weeks now, having been given them by a product sampling team at London Bridge and I now need to go & buy some. Breaking news, sampling works! Oh, you knew already? As do I!
On my return I downed a glass of milk and headed for Kim’s shower, which has mains water which is colder than my tank-fed shower downstairs. I probably stood in the cold shower for good 20 minutes trying to cool my legs down… if I’m still walking around as if I’m on stilts tomorrow & Tuesday, then I probably wouldn’t have been able to move at all without it!
The run was 10.2 miles and completed in 1 hour 46 mins… an average of 5.7 mph. You can see the route on Strava.
Different routes often help me to think about different things and today was no different. I thought about the start that my parents gave me in life and their ongoing guidance & support. I have grown up to be a (thankfully) imperfect fellow, but with a real growth mindset (Carol Dweck’s book Mindset is well worth the read!). Even in my fifties I often make questionable decisions (by normal standards at least), but the net effect is that I am able to work in a fascinating area (people, development & change) and can constantly push the limits of my ability. This, ahem, basically means that I fail frequently and though this can be somewhat frustrating (often, as Kim will attest), it is something that I encourage my clients & students to do and to celebrate! I am very grateful to my parents for the role that they have played in helping me be me… clearly I would be nothing (quite literally) without them!
Whilst I have no children of my own, I am a faux-father to Kim’s two kids, now in their late twenties… Karen sent me a text this morning to wish me Happy step-Fathers Day and the grin is still plastered across my face!
So to fathers and faux-fathers everywhere (and mine in particular)… keep up the hard work! It’s much appreciated!