But this is just one example and there are many others. At our regular, post parkrun, coffee runners of all levels of experience and ability are willing to share their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm. Runners I know via Facebook inspire and encourage me both with their running triumphs and their incitements to enter new races. It doesn't seem to matter that I am very much closer to the 'fun run' end of the running spectrum than to the 'fast paced club runner' end (although I can dream...) I have never been made to feel that I am anything other than a member of a thriving, supportive running community. And even as I type this entry I see that a fellow runner is enticing me with yet another retail opportunity. Of course I cannot live without a barcode tag to take to parkrun for another day now I have seen one!
I love the feeling of camaraderie I share with all the other runners I encounter while pounding the streets. That nod of the head, smile and cheery (if sometimes breathless) greeting. In acknowledgement that we doing something positive and sharing that experience is some way. Over the last couple of years I have grown to recognise a few familiar faces running around my local routes, sometimes we fall into step beside each other for a few hundred metres and chat about the weather or whatever else springs to mind. Sometimes we just pass like ships in the night (me like the Royal Yacht Britannia with a leak in my hull, them like a sleek racing yacht).
There are lots of new runners on the road at the moment, something to do with a new year and Christmas excesses I should imagine, and I seem to see far more people when I am out and about than I ever used to, even when running in the wind, rain and pitch black nights! Good on them all. I hope they come to love running as much as I do.
This week has seen me return to school, a whole week before my children return to their schools. Our department lost two members of staff at the end of last term, so we feel as though we are rattling around a little. One of those members of staff was our official tea maker, a job which is now undertaken by the first person to get to the science staff room. This time last year I was just about to embark on my final teaching practice placement. Now I have been teaching full time for an entire term! I've learnt so much in a term.
Running has kept me sane, and continues to do so. I've run just over 33 miles so far this year, it took me three weeks to clock up that mileage last year. I've probably entered too many races already this year, but the first one will be the Bramley 10/20 - I'm not going to do the 20mile race - although several of my friends are doing the full distance! I'll stand on the sidelines, clutching my medal, and cheering them all on! I haven't trained properly, but I managed just under 8 miles today, so am confident that I can run the distance - although the chances of a PB are negligible.