COLUMN: The not quite so reluctant runner

Running, Rabbits and reflection

Wensleydale mum-of-two Alison Champion gives an insight into her love/hate relationship with her new hobby.

I set myself a new challenge to run 100k in May. Sometimes it’s too easy not to bother.

This way I had to force myself out. Religiously checking Strava, estimating the km to mile in my head and turning dog walks into dog runs.

May has now been and gone and to my absolute delight, I completed the challenge with time to kill and have concluded that I do need the drive of someone else — even if that someone else is an electronic non-person on my phone.

Another school holiday has also passed, which contained and fantastic Jubilee weekend.

Like many things in my life, I spend too much time complaining and worrying about tasks in hand, rather than just enjoying them. I then look back fondly at the events forgetting the pressure and ask myself yet again why? What a waste of time.

Each time a school holiday approaches I count down the days, with as much excitement as the kids. I look forward to not rushing off in the morning.

Alison Champion.

Not having to repeatedly ask “Where are your socks? Why haven’t you got them on? Why have you only got one on?”

I always plan not to be busy. To just hang about, rest, recover and spend quality time together walking the dog’s, playing board games, visiting parks and rivers with lots of picnics. The children will play nicely, and do as I ask, because we are on holiday. Yeah right!

On the very first day over an extremely civilised breakfast, I fill the children in. I explain to them that to ensure we all have a lovely time and do the things that they would like to do, we have certain jobs and responsibilities to carry out.

For example, the dogs need taking out. Twice. There is no point moaning about it. People need to be seen and work commitments met. School work also needs to be done.

The end of term assessments highlighted some slight issues. The sort of slight issues, that create tears, panic and arguments between parents. We decided to up our game and really try to make school easier, by doing more at home.

I printed of sheets and checked the curriculum in order to plan what we would be able to complete by the time they go back. We will have it cracked, why don’t I do this all the time? It’s not hard, just 10 minutes a day. I finish explaining this, whilst cupping my tea and watching their gorgeous faces enjoying their dippy eggs. Then lock down comes screaming back… literally/ “BUT IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!!”

As with every meltdown I have one compliant child and one who isn’t. They take it in turns.

This time the red head and I walked off hand in hand, throwing the ball for the dogs, chatting and looking at the gorgeous hawthorns blooming whitely. The blonde was left shouting and yelling behind us about how unfair I was being.

Overcome with anger and frustration he pulled up his hood and crouched down by the dry-stone wall, disappearing into the grey. Just for good measure I had a lovely dose of the H word. A word I never planned to hear as a new parent because my children would never speak to me like that. “I hate you!” he repeated under his breath.

Of course, I know he doesn’t mean it but was unable to stop a tear or two to fall whilst I tried to ignore him. We went round past the old railway line, the hooded Ninja following slyly, avoiding our vision as best he could by stealthily zig zagging this way and that behind the trees. Shouting had subsided but targeted missiles occasionally struck.

The dogs have now lost the ball. The red head and I search in the beck, we walk backwards and forwards looking for the last ball we have. By this point it had been noticed that pratting about in water was more fun than being a grouchy tree hugger, so we three were reunited and searching together. Gone. We finally gave up and carried on walking through into the next field.

Our would-be sheep dog spied the lamb first. It was in the wrong field. We discussed the plan, I would run after it and the kids would open the gate at the other end, easy. The sheep herder came with me, to do nothing apart from pull on the lead and I left old faithful to help with the kids.

It was a good bit of exercise, at least I was managing to get a few extra steps in, my heart rate elevated enough to make my watch think I was working out too. I got round the lamb and began to send it back, although now I could see the struggle up ahead. With a sigh I realised the first attempt would be a failure.

“Lift it, then pull!” I holla at them, but their combined strength was no match for the heavy gate. I had no choice but to abandon the lamb, race over to assist, then back to square one. This chaos went on for a while.

With the dogs barking, the children laughing and great frustration building within me, I notice that to the left of us, the road was filling with cars. I did wonder whether they were taking in some free entertainment by watching us, but soon saw another escapee and her lambs wandering merrily down the lane.

Traffic slowly moves on and so do we. Our little lucy Lamb is safely back through the gate, before I call a proper farmer to deal with the others. We head home and I check the time. 9.30am, just 10 hours until reinforcement returns…

The weather was particularly glorious on Easter Sunday, if you can remember that far back?!  There had been no real reluctance to head out, get some miles in and enjoy the weather.

I left home and almost instantly spotted the Easter bunny, however unlike Jesus, this one had not been resurrected. I took a closer look to see if I could recognise it as the myxy rabbit I had removed the day before.

That Bunny-hop had got itself round the back into my little wild English garden, taking cover under the emerging lupins. Initially I chose to leave it alone as it was full of disease and barley alive and I did not want to touch it.

You can’t help but feel sorry for these little creatures and as I was unable to put it out of its misery, I planned for it to enjoy its final hours amongst the greenery and the songbirds. I would employ the assistance of a dead rabbit remover, when the time came.

The following morning however, I spied the little blighter somewhat recovered. Rabbit droppings trailed around the old sleepers forming our raised beds, and more emerging plants than what I had been willing to sacrifice, nibbled. He had to go. With gardening gloves on I picked up the wriggling, kicking creature and held him at arm’s length. “Ew, ew, ew, ew,” I repeated, trying to avoid his bleeding eye juice, until I put him down in the long grass under the shade of a wall.

Poor little thing, I thought as I stepped over it. Someone else can pick it up. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you try to invade my garden…

After another successful six-mile round trip of gorgeousness (landscape) and sweat (me) with my wonderful companions and motivators, I looked forward, without guilt to the Easter morning bounty which awaited my return. I was very proud of the modest selection I thought we had, but when I stepped through the door the selection had somehow multiplied and was now quite simply chocolate carnage.

Half-eaten eggs strewn across the worktops; chocolate divided into different containers and scattered around the sitting room. The dogs excitedly sniffing and licking at the foil wrappers, to my horror!

“The dogs will DIE if you leave chocolate out,” I barked repeatedly to scare them into looking after their treats and loudly so that the adult in charge may observe some discipline too.

The late submission of this piece makes me question where the time has gone. Something we constantly ask, along with questioning the weather! Two things we can do absolutely nothing about. Yet two things we are obsessed with. Many of us spend too much time looking back on things we wish we could change.

We waste hours dwelling on these thoughts. “I wish I had done this; I wish I hadn’t done that.” I always try to think about the 90-year-old me sat in my rise and recline chair reflecting on life. Am I going to be sat there worrying about all the nonsense I waste time thinking about now? No.

None of us know what tomorrow has in store for us.  Some people ‘appear’ to breeze through life without so much as a broken nail.  Others get smacked in the face by every passing branch, leaving behind un-removable thorns, splinters and destruction. This often makes it very difficult to see all the things that we can be thankful for.

A very wise man, who I happen to be married to, reminds me constantly to see the positive, even when it seems impossible. Life is so unfair and is taken away too soon for so many.

Hopefully most of us get to know what extraordinary is, even for a short amount of time. That has to be better than only ever knowing ordinary.