I had not expected to be visiting Cambridge quite so soon after my recent enjoyable weekend trip, but a small family emergency had me making a detour to visit my daughter who was in hospital with appendicitis.
As a partial empty nester of almost 3 years standing, I think I have managed the ‘letting go’ bit of parenthood quite well so far and am fairly relaxed about intermittent communications and infrequent contact, although receiving a text message that opened with ” I don’t want to worry you but I am in A& E…” was a bit testing !
Added to the fact that I picked up this message when I was in Holland on day 1 of a business trip, my husband was in Edinburgh and sick daughter miles away in Cambridge did make for a few stressful days. I reckon parents everywhere will agree that whether your children are 2 or 20 years old, when they are in trouble or unwell you just want to be there to give them a hug.
Luckily my capable daughter has a good network of friends and a caring boyfriend who were there to support her and that, added to knowing that she was in safe hands at the local hospital, made it a lot easier for her remote parents. As it was timings turned out fine as I arrived just in time for her to be discharged from hospital not too much the worse for her ordeal and minus her appendix.
So on Friday Feb 14 – Valentine’s day no less – I found myself in Cambridge once again, and with time on my hands between attending to recovering daughter who was mostly sleeping.
I have become very fond of running in Cambridge – it is a novelty to run somewhere different and Cambridge is such a city of character – a great size for exploring and with lots of traffic free paths. Added to the choice of running routes, the almost universal flatness of the terrain is a treat for someone who does most of her running in hilly Edinburgh.
Yes – Cambridge would be pretty high up on my ‘top places to live’ if running was the main criteria for choice, although maybe even I might tire of the undemanding terrain and mild climate, and would find myself longing for days spent running in chilly grey temperatures against feisty winds and horizontal rain up hill and down glen 🙂
Leading up to my half marathon on March 9, I had planned to do a long run – 11 miles at some point over the weekend, and Alison and I had spoken of doing this run on Saturday to give us an extra day to recover. But as I was not going to manage to get back to run with Alison, and having barely managed any running all week, a Cambridge run was an appealing alternative.
Another sliver lining of this unplanned visit was a weather bonus, as on Friday 14 February Cambridge seemed to be one of the few places in the UK that was missing storm force winds and /or torrential rain.
I set out on a run earlyish, and thought I might recap part of the river route I had run previously, and if I did 6 miles I would be fine with that, there was no time pressure and I did not feel like setting too big a goal. Whether driving, walking or running, and more by accident than design, I rarely manage to follow the same route twice when in Cambridge. This is another way of saying I have a rubbish sense of direction and get lost a lot. Fine when there are no time pressures, and an interesting path to discovery.
Recently I have been thinking again about running motivation and what kind of runs I like best. This over thinking of why I run often sets in at around this time before a race, when the inevitability of knowing I must complete the race coincides with a peak in my self-doubt over my ability to do so.
So back to the run – Friday morning in Cambridge the river path was quieter but with the usual suspects – students, dog walkers, runners, kids in tow. It was a grey day, but for me an equable temperature – not much sunshine, but plenty big skies. I followed the river then looped up past Magdalene Bridge to Queen’s Road- running along the back of St Johns, Trinity, Trinity Hall and Clare colleges.
Past King’s college and the great view you get of the chapel and grazing, then a quick loop up ( yes a small hill ), past the university library, Selwyn college and Newnham colleges before continuing along the river crossing back along the Fen causeway. I decided against a second attempt at Granchester meadows – the water levels were lower, but I think Granchester Meadows is better saved for a summer’s day.
Knowing I would be passing the street where my daughter lives, I stopped to send her a message asking if she would like me to drop by with breakfast.
By the time I reached where she lives I had still not heard from her, so l lingered for a bit waiting for a reply, not wanting to ring the doorbell, as given that her operation was just the day before she needed sleep to recover.
There is a French bistro close to where she lives, and I noticed they were serving breakfast. Being Valentine’s day or maybe just being Cambridge, the restaurant was full of beautiful young people enjoying free wifi and more importantly what looked like lovely French coffee and croissants. Until then I did not realise how hungry I was – I guess 6.5 miles on a cup of tea and a banana can have that effect.
Still no reply to my text and although I had whiled away a few minutes taking pictures of Cambridge sights – including many versions of an old style red telephone box as I recall – I could not hang around indefinitely and did not think I was really dressed to join the beautiful people in the bistro for breakfast.
I set off back to the house I was staying in – a distance of around 2 miles or 20 mins give or take. The weather by now had taken a turn for the worse it was drizzly rain and a bit of a wind had whipped up, so by way of distractionI started thinking more about what I could have for breakfast.
I knew there was some lovely French unsalted butter in the fridge, and maybe some coffee, and if I could retrace my steps without getting lost, I was sure there was a branch of Marks and Spencer close to where I was staying – the M& S croissants are usually pretty good, but did I have enough money with me and what about jam?
I considered many permutations of the croissant, jam, coffee conundrum on this return leg of the run- single croissant or 2 – chocolate or plain butter croissant – buy some jam ?, but how to carry it and would my scrunched up Scottish £ 10 note be enough to cover all the delights I was imagining.
This food dreaming is maybe one reason why I am not a more accomplished runner. I have been reading a book ‘The Art of Running Faster’ ( reading running books is another of my close to race panic measures ), and in this the author talks about the importance of mixing up your training and how you can teach yourself to run faster through repetitions, hill repeats, flexibility and form. You need to learn how to push harder and recover but nowhere in the text is there a chapter on the importance of food dreaming while running.
My daydreams were cut short when I got a text from my daughter – yes breakfast would be nice. Of course by now I had travelled more than half a mile in the opposite direction, but as I am a nice Mummy I turned tail and ran back to the centre of Cambridge, where I bought her a chocolate croissant, and a pain aux raisin and coffee for me.
I then ran back to her house with breakfast delivery – running up and down the street a few times to reach a tidy distance of 8 miles.
By way of a footnote – after stopping for breakfast and chat – I ran home and finding myself just at 2.5 miles added in a round the block half mile loop to give me my 11 mile total for the day.