My last blog was almost a year ago. And what a year it has been…
The C Bomb
I recall at the end of February 2020 I had written about what might be in store for us in the year ahead- a new baby, Liverpool win the premier league, a month in the campervan in the alps, a dream move to the lake district??? A lot of “ifs and buts” in there, but one thing I didn’t predict (naively or ignorantly given what was happening in China at the time) was Covid-19, and the devastating impact it would have across the world, and across every aspect of everyone’s lives. As I write this we are in our third national lockdown in England, but with the roll out of the vaccination programme and spring approaching we know (and hope) there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please.
Lockdown with LBB
So Boris announced the first national lockdown to start on Tuesday 24th March, which also happened to be the day our second little boy was born! A surreal experience driving to hospital through a deserted Leeds city centre, trepidation walking through hospital corridors, and as it was so new to everyone no-one quite sure how much distance to keep, what to touch (or not to) and just generally a strange anxiety to add to the pre birth stress you naturally have anyway. That said the hospital staff were unbelievable, so professional and supportive at all stages, you almost forgot about the drama unfolding in the outside world. I thought they were amazing a few years ago when Jesse was born, but they topped that this time. Becky was pretty good too(!). So Lochlann (Lockie) was born, and despite what one or two people might have thought his name wasn’t a planned link to the situation, we had thought of (and loved) the name months ago and we weren’t going to give in to a global pandemic by changing it!
WFV (Working from the van)
Our VW T5 camper came into its own at the start of lockdown. Obviously you couldn’t go anywhere, but you could sit on the driveway and create a nice quiet, toddler/new born baby proof office and “conference suite”. Anyone who has young kids and has been working from home in the last year will know what I am talking about. Way too hot when the sun came out and bitterly cold when it didn’t…you still take it.
But it was tough, which I know it will have been for everyone, but it felt especially tough on Becky as a mum to a new baby- unable to access the usual support you need, unable to share the joy of a new baby with family and friends properly, and dealing with all the other stress and strain that a new baby can bring (post birth, emotional and physical), in a lockdown environment, that is certainly not easy. I am incredibly proud of her, and also of Jesse and how he has dealt with it all, especially embracing his little brother in such a mature way. He does crack me up that he is only 3 years old with some of the stuff he comes out with!
So what of running I hear you ask? Clearly most races were cancelled during 2020, and much went virtual which I generally embraced and enjoyed. I came third in the “Virtu-owl” running series, spanning a number of race distances and really helped the motivation to mix it up. The “Ross Barkley challenge” was a personal favourite and created some good banter within Valley Striders members to see who could run a 5k as fast as they could. You could stop your watch as many times as you like, run down a massively steep slope etc. Google it if you don’t know what I am talking about, it’s a funny story! But actually a bit unfair on the ex-evertonian who enjoys his sunbeds a little too much.
Missing the fells
Running for me continued to be an important part in my routine, a welcome release from the compression of lockdown. Not much speed in the legs, but it didn’t matter. Plenty of buggy runs with Lockie, with the bonus of refreshingly light cargo in comparison with recent buggy runs with Jesse! I would like to say my pace improved but that would be a lie. When restrictions eased I popped up to Round Hill to do a local fell race route, which made for such a refreshing change. And on Fathers day I got up early, drove to Staveley and ran the Kentmere Horseshoe, then made it home for 11.30am. I was dreaming about that run for months, and despite the fact it was crap weather it didn’t matter, it probably made me enjoy it even more.
Living the dream….eventually
In February 2020 we finally took the plunge and acted on something we had wanted to do for many years- put the house up for sale and move to the Lake District! The house was on the market for 3 weeks….before it all shut down with Covid. Brilliant. When Estate agents reopened at the end of May, and whilst we struggled to sell our house in Leeds we spent 8 weeks watching all the amazing properties we had our eye on in the Lakes quickly disappear to cash buyers from London. That damn covid again messing it all up- just what we needed was an influx of second home owners now deciding they also wanted to buy somewhere in the English countryside!
At the end of July we accepted an offer on ours and we managed to get an offer accepted soon after on an amazing place in Staveley before it was snapped up. Another four and a half months later and we finally moved in a few days before Christmas. Its a project but fair play its got potential to be pretty special, with an amazing garden and direct access onto the fells. With the Inov-8 head office and Hawkshead brewery in the village, when restrictions are lifted it really will be living the (fell runners) dream.
The year ahead
Well another race was entered to keep morale up- this time the Virtual Lakeland Trails, with the added bonus of doing one of the “actual” routes from the new front door. We have also entered a few other trail races in the lakes this summer, not the cheapest options by far but with the extra logistics you pay for, fairly confident many will go ahead, and more likely than most fell races.
I will refrain from doing any further predictions for the year ahead as per my last blog, as covid tried it’s best to ruin even the most nailed on certainties last year. Even Liverpool winning the league was looking decidedly uncertain at one point- and would have been if Karren Brady had had her way! In fairness all my predictions did come true in the end though (save the month in the campervan which we substituted for a week in the pissing down rain on the Isle of Mull), they just took all year to materialise.
So 2020 was terrible in so many ways, but probably the best year of my life. And I still can’t quite work out how I feel about that…