Sunday, 31 July 2011
I've not really talked about my running much recently, and that's because it's not been going very well. However, all that's for another post. Today it's time for another installment from the homeland.
Friday saw Golden Wedding celebrations chez les olds. Saturday was spent recovering. Today was spent exhausting ourselves again - this time through the medium of running. My sister and I decided that this was the year we were going to enter our hometown race, the Donkey Brae Run. It's a 7 miler between our hometown and the next, mostly along really beautiful coastal paths but with 2 killer hills. The race organisers are nice in that they let you run down both hills, but sadly they also make you run up them too - one fairly near the start and one just before the end.
We both puffed our ways round, staying broadly within sight of each other for the whole race, changing leads frequently as one or other of us felt the pace slipping for a while. We managed a very creditable 73 minutes, with which we are both extremely happy. And we crossed the finish line together, which just added icing to the cake for me.
It was an achievement for us both - while my sister has been running triathlons for the last few years, being a full time mum she doesn't have the time to train at the moment so it was pretty much her residual fitness that got her through. I've only been running for just over a year and I'm still struggling to get my pace and stamina sorted. As regular readers will know, I'm training for my first (and probably only) marathon in October. At the moment, it's touch and go if I'll make it. But today has helped re-bolster my confidence and kick me back into my training regime. So an achievement for us both.
Even her 8 year old son had a go and came in the top 20 or so of runners for his 1 mile fun run. And the olds, well they spectated, held jackets and cheered us home. All in all a true family effort.
But the real achievement of the day in my opinion went to the last runner home of the day. The dad of my best friend from school, Dick has in his time been a serious and very good marathon runner. He's run in almost every Donkey Brae Run and competed this year, in the run up to his 80th birthday, in honour of his wife, Maureen, who was so sadly taken from her family a few weeks back. I was at her funeral and I can safely say it was one of the saddest yet bitter sweet events I've ever attended.
Maureen was a second mum to me growing up. I was forever at their house, playing with my best friend when we were younger, and then just mooching when we hit the teenage years. Maureen and Dick took me on my first ever skiing trip and my first real holiday abroad. They allowed us to have the rite of passage teenage parties and Maureen even made the most fabulous spread of food before leaving us to get on with it on our own. I was genuinely heart broken to see her go.
But I was even more heart broken to understand what she had endured in her final years. Not for Maureen a graceful decline into old age. No, instead she developed a terrible illness known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, or PSP for short. It's a disease I'd never heard of before and is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's. Not only is the disease, as the name suggests, progressive and degenerative - worse, there is as yet, no treatment and no cure.
As ever, Maureen faced her illness with calm and courage. She still managed to visit her extended family and to be the mother, grandmother and friend to many that she was throughout her life. After her death, Dick is attempting to fight the illness in his own way. He ran the 7 mile killer Donkey Brae Run today at almost 80, in honour of his dearly loved wife, but also to raise money in the hopes that one day the medical community may have treatments if not perhaps cures for this unimaginable affliction. If you want to help Dick in his own personal fight, feel free to drop in to the PSP Association website and make a donation. I know he'd be grateful.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
Or paddle valiantly on? So often the dilemma in life. But it's not one of those posts today. Instead it's a post in honour of the 28th Aberdour Festival Raft Race - and the joys of homeland, parents, love and celebration.
This weekend has been an extended stay for me in the homeland with the parents, my big sister and the 8 year old whirlwind of energy that is my nephew. The reason - apart from enjoying time with family - was to celebrate Mum and Dad's 50th (Golden) Wedding Anniversary. I confess there were times I didn't think they would make it that far - either for reasons of disagreement or ill health. But make it they did, and we had a party in the garden to celebrate.
It was a small select gathering, and all the better for the intimacy. Everyone either knew or knew of each other. Mum's two remaining bridesmaids were there - one of whom had travelled from southern Germany for the event (and remains with us for the rest of the weekend) with close friends and family making up the rest of the party. The sun shone, the caterers outdid themselves and a great time was had by all.
And then this morning it was up bright and early for the start of the Aberdour Festival - something which didn't really play a particularly significant role in my childhood years since it wasn't really invented until after I was adult and away from home, and so this morning's procession of the Festival King and Queen was my first ever. Probably my last as well - in true village style it was a somewhat understated event - Aberdour types appear to be far too sophisticated to turn out for a procession, and definitely too cool, on the whole, to take part in the fancy dress element.
The raft race wasn't a first. In fact, by my calculation I was a participant in probably the 2nd ever raft race. It wasn't a great success from memory - and Mum's photographic evidence. Our raft got as far as 10 yards from the shore before sinking spectacularly and heaving us all into the drink. Actually, 10 yards might be an exaggeration. These year's entrants were all more successful - they had rafts that were actually sea-worthy and if not steer-worthy, they did at least manage to make it round the course and still be (almost) floating by the end of the course.
Much to be admired - paddling on even when there's no hope of winning the race just for the sheer hell of staying the course. I suspect there's a lesson in there...