A workout of Sliding Doors

If you are a runner, it is not unusual to be married to fellow runner because like attracts like. Some may attribute this to the law of attraction while others believe it has more to do with sharing the innate ability to overlook mud, sweat and Lycra in a mate. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the time to go for a run together, especially during the working week. Most runners find it difficult enough to find some time to fit in a workout for themselves, let alone trying to coordinate with their partner’s commitments. Add some children with their busy school and social lives to contend with and it is even harder. Which means that a runner will often go for a workout on the same day and even at the same time as their partner but in totally different places. Without knowing, the runs may even take place in unison. And if one of you travels occasionally for work, your runs may even be mirroring each other in different countries.

Unsurprisingly, most runners love nothing more than to talk about their run and compare notes. Which is why no one can resist sending a post-run text with related emojis and GIFs to express how it went. Why wait for the chance to rehash a workout once home from work when you can instantly share with an exhausted face, that you are knackered? Often my post-run texts cross paths with my husband’s and we both know what we will be talking about later, at length, over the dinner table. It’s like getting a text sneak preview before sitting down to the main feature, later. But there are times when our post-run texts do not reveal very much and a similar sounding run may, in fact, be very different. This is never more apparent than when you foolishly try to recreate your partner’s run based on their post-run text. crackers-3.jpg

I received a post-run text from my husband recently, while he was away for work in a lovely Mediterranean country. Despite the location, I knew there would be little downtime for him to sneak in a workout and the weather was forecast to be rainy. Therefore, I was surprised to see from an early text and selfie one morning, that the sun was out and he had already gone for a pre-breakfast run by the sea. Although little on the details, I imagined his picturesque run in the warm sunshine. He would have run down pretty, cobblestoned streets that weaved through the old town and led towards the beach-lined harbour. It would have been so peaceful and relaxing, with only the sound of the old church bells chiming, the twinkling bell of a bicycle, probably ridden by some old character with a baguette or two in his basket. There would also have been the bustle of cafés beginning to open and he would have got a sudden waft of fresh coffee and bread baking as he ran past. I could picture the locals smiling while wishing him a good morning. Then he would have run along the waterfront, past the sailboats and some early morning swimmers…

It must have been heavenly and I wished that I could have gone for such a run. Then again, I thought, maybe I could do something similar? With the time difference, he was an hour ahead of me so I could even go for a run at the very same time that he left. I wasn’t in the Med but maybe I could also go for a run along the water? With this in mind, I decided to go for an early lakeside run in the only slightly cooler British sun.

Unfortunately, I found out that although I would have been able to write the same post-run text as my husband’s, my run was somewhat different. In other words, if our same texts had been movie trailers, rather than experiencing my husband’s blockbuster of a workout, I ran something that could only be described as rotten tomatoes. In fact, it would be fair to say that my run was entirely the negative version of his, like I had worked out in some kind of parallel universe. It was as if my decision to workout set off a series of Sliding Doors moments, and my run had inevitably followed a worse path to his.

It didn’t start out too badly when I left the house, although I was still a little tired and groggy. As I began to run, my legs started to wake up a bit more and I headed downhill, relaxing into a nice pace. I felt comfortable and soon sped up, running to the left of the pavement as I could see a bike approaching in the distance. As it came closer, I could see that it was a hipster on a fixie, weaving wildly left and right as he mounted the hill. However, as he neared and he veered, jerkily left and right, it was impossible to tell which side of the pavement he was aiming to pass me on. We then both began a dodgy dance to the left and right, as we got closer and attempted to avoid each other. Finally, I held firm to the right side, but it was clearly the wrong side, as he decided to keep to the same. Luckily, he slammed on his brakes with a screech, just in time, some mere centimetres away from ploughing into me. We stood still panting and glaring at each other in a temporary Mexican standoff but I carefully backed away and retreated from my position. I hastily apologised and quickly ran off, feeling that my heart was in my mouth.

After that close call, I tried to focus on the run ahead which I imagined could only improve. I wondered if anyone rode fixies in the Med and if hipsters could weave over cobblestones? I carried on running towards the lake through parkland and felt the sun shining on my face. I breathed in the fresh air but with that came a fly that immediately stuck to the back of my throat. I began hacking and coughing but the fly refused dislodge. I could only try to not think of it, just sitting there and waiting. I kept running and trying not to swallow while considering my fly-removal options. However, this was interrupted when I literally ran through another whirling swarm. Now I had a fly in my eye and my throat! As I started fishing for the fly in my eye with my finger I realised that I had inadvertently swallowed the first fly. I ran on further trying to distract myself from thinking about my pre-breakfast snack as I tried to wink the second fly out of my eye.

I finally reached the pretty lake but despite my winking eye, things started to look up. It was a nice day and with the sun reflecting off the water, my mind wandered to my husband’s run. There were only a few dog walkers about and parents pushing strollers slowly and it felt as if I had the lake to myself. I was actually starting to enjoy my run and I smiled as I ran towards a much older couple strolling along. But as I ran past, I saw that the woman wasn’t smiling but smirked at me as I noticed a movement behind me and just out of sight. I turned and saw the older man pretending to run and mocking me! I was absolutely speechless and kept running ahead while questioning myself, what had just happened?! No one ever said that running was pretty and I do expect sarky shouts of ‘Run Forest! Run!’ from random teenagers and family members, alike. But friendly looking OAPs?! I wasn’t angry, just disappointed. It took me more than a kilometre to think of several comebacks.

While still fuming and pounding my feet as I ran, I turned a corner and met the sudden 8am blast of 3 Council workers driving enormous lawnmowers. The sound was absolutely deafening and where it was once peaceful was now ear-splitting. I attempted to outrun them but as I passed, I realised too late that they sprayed grass everywhere as they worked. Which meant that I was sprayed with several shots of fresh grass that immediately stuck to my sweaty body. As I tried to wipe my face, I got grass in my other eye which then started watering profusely.

By this point, I had, had enough. Far from being what I had imagined, a lovely Mediterranean run in the sea air, this run was absolutely rubbish. I had almost been run over, swallowed a fly, still had another one in the other eye, been mocked by someone’s grandparents, had a headache from the blasting lawnmowers, was covered with wet grass and now couldn’t see out of my ‘good’ eye. I resigned myself to failure and began to slog home.

At last, the run was finally over. But as I walked in my front door with my head hanging low, I was hit with the most amazing scent of fresh coffee and bread. My teenage son was already up and preparing breakfast for himself and the coffee was just starting to brew. I practically wept with happiness and went over to hug him but then hesitated when I saw his expression. I may have looked a state but didn’t care because I was safely home again.

I’ll never know why my run went so badly wrong that day but only that it started with a post-run text. Post-run texts never tell you the whole story, especially because it is far too easy to let your imagination fill in the blanks. If I have learned anything, it is to never attempt to recreate someone else’s workout based on only 160 characters and a selfie. And to try not to inhale when I run past flies.

But now for a recipe for Easy seedy crackers. They are good enough on their own but also nice with a piece of cheese or to use as dippers.

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