SUN, SEA, AND SANITY
We’re on a family holiday in Puerta Pollensa, and I need to run. I need to run even more with the prospect of being marooned amongst demanding Brits Abroad and German Sunbed-Warriors. Not to mention the thought of having two overly excited five-year-old girls to entertain and manage throughout their travel tiredness and heat-induced tantrums.
I’m a strict mum. I know that about myself. I also know that I need my own space. I need a place where I can go to which is free from ridiculous pink yappy dogs (no, I don’t think they’re cute), You Tube video clips showing some nasal-sounding American Mum opening up the latest Season 5 Shopkins (plastic tat to you and I), and incessant nags for – yet another – ice-cream.
For me, that place is running.
We arrived quite late on Sunday night. After a few grumbles about having to change from an initially unsuitable room, we finally put two overtired, tearful children to bed. But I didn’t sleep. Tills insisted that we keep a light on, and I was too tired to argue the point or upset her any more. My sleepless first night on holiday may as well have been during summer solstice at the Arctic Circle: it had no darkness.
I woke early and – in spite of the sizeable luggage bags which seemed reluctant to shift from beneath my eyes – I went for a run. My legs felt heavy and tired. I felt heavy and tired. I know the area and it was a straightforward run: three miles out to Puerta Pollensa; three miles back. My legs didn’t want to know, and neither did the rest of me if I’m honest. But if nothing else, it was a head-straightener, and allowed me a brief reprieve from the yappy dog/Shopkins scenario back at Toyland Villa.
Day two and we all woke up naturally from a blissful, deep sleep. Once we’d battled with the Germans over the all-you-can-eat unnecessary breakfast (how many crepes can one person actually eat? A lot, as it happens) we headed for the beach. But my head was busy whirring away whilst Gav was pontificating over the logistical plans out loud. My thought process was this: WHY CATCH THE BUS WHEN I CAN RUN? Three miles in to meet Gav & the girls off the bus. I’d be all of 25 mins max. Done deal.
So the bus came and once I’d piled them all on safely, complete with dual buckets & spades (‘I wanted the Hello Kitty one, not Minnie Mouse! WHAAAAA!’) I legged it even before the bus had set off. My next thought: Why not race the bus? Surely it would take a good while for other overly stuffed post-breakfast mums & dads to waddle their way onboard with their delightful offspring and unnecessary plastic tat?
So the race was on. I set off hard and kept going. But bloody hell it was hot. We’re talking 11am-ish in the height of Mallorcan mid-summer. Redders doesn’t even come close. I stopped after 1.5 fast miles for a drink, and could quite easily have thrown myself into the sea at that point. It felt like running through a ring of fire, with my mouth as dry as a scorched carpet. I pulled over again at 2.5 miles and just managed to stop myself from grabbing a full juice bottle out of the hands of a small child walking past. It was close.
I made it to meet the crew just in time for ice creams, and all was well with the world. Or my world, anyway. I was a nicer, more patient, tolerant mother. I enjoyed building sand castles and trying to explain to five year olds that they wouldn’t be able to catch fish in their Minnie Mouse buckets… fifteen times. They still tried to, regardless.
Gav turned to me and said, ‘You made quite an impression on the bus, you know! One woman asked if you were a marathon runner.‘
I laughed out loud. ‘And did you tell her that in reality, I’m just a mother who’s trying to keep herself from going insane?‘
Because in reality, any marathon running I do is simply a by-product of that: The incessant quest for sanity.