Breathless in Kidlington

by Ian Wilson

P ulse not yet steady — breathless voice saying stop, it hurts — athletic whisper saying you can do this, it will get better, run on — on with elbows, run with your elbows — wave at what's-her-name — out of Church Street — into the fields — grass wet but now cut, lucky with the weather — what shall I cook for supper — puddles — if you don't like puddles take up ballet dancing I tell the voice — I might have been quite good at that — cadence steady, focus on shorter steps — MOT on Thursday, should be ok — what is Kay doing — beep, first kilometre.

Wind from the west, recon hard river section — must avoid ruts, run out of one rut onto the grass — wet grass, shoes soaked — mud, nice mud — breathing settled — getting hot, should have worn short sleeves — maybe buy a proper running shirt, that shop in Oxford — pulse steady — concentrate — run with your elbows — pump, pump, pump, like a steam train — Swindon train museum was good — puddle or plank, plank or puddle — plank — too slippery at speed, puddle on the way back — beep, two k.

Run through a bit of St Mary's Field — Big Hay Rake, away that week — Devon week, wet suit in Devon, must remember wet suit — hope the zip works — where is the zip grease — top drawer on right — avoid dog, and owner — nice smile — field used to have cows — caught fire once, farmer came from Hampton Poyle on a quad bike — rubbish pile now cleared — into forest — I am Groot, I am Groot, better than Ents, good CGI — avoid roots, soil eroding — bigger roots, where will it end — half way round, all downhill from now on, only it’s not downhill — dogleg, more mud — breathing steady — buzz, 3k — pace 5.25 minutes, about on target.

Second forest field — this used to be wheat, or barley, I know the difference now — more roots — avoid people, take parallel track — stinging nettles — ouch, ooh, ouch — thoughts flash to former lives, try not to think of former lives — live in the present — smile, I think I’m enjoying this — am I at the end of the second wood — recognise turn, left — narrow path, avoid nettles, more nettles — open field, no deer today — left again, wide track — new soil pile, why — track is flat, head up, look ahead — elbows, elbows — miss 4k alarm — soon home.

Avoid tractor turning into field — shimmy sideways, don’t see the shallow ditch — twist foot but keep upright — ouch, not too painful, carry on — will I regret that — back over the wooden bridge by the dinosaur pond — through the woods — plank or puddle — puddle — sharp right — the undulations of ridge and furrow surprisingly tiring — still think they were for flax, hence Rope Walk — carpark only half full — dash to the finish, glory awaits — back into Church Street — pump elbows — head up, look cool — breathless ‘hi’ to what's-his-name — hit 5 kilometres — yes, all done, yes — nearly round the corner — remember to smile for the press photos, wave at the spectators, my public — my fans await —

— just an Amazon parcel on the doorstep. Lasagne for supper.

Ian Wilson has been a resident of Kidlington Village for over 35 years. He began his current running regime in his late 60s.

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