We arrived in good time to find a parking slot. I advised Paul to keep his fleece on until we were ready for the run to begin. He was amazed how many people were there, and the way that some runners were dressed had him creased with laughter. We made our way to the bandstand. I’d registered and had a barcode printed for him during the week. I asked him to take it and look after it to have it read at the Finish point. This made him even more excited. He was showing a competitive streak but I explained that I couldn’t run as fast as many of the people there, that he’d have to stay with me, and that the only person that he was competing with was himself.
As we were talking, Susie, Jenny and Debbie joined us. I introduced Paul to them. They bent down to his level and made a fuss of him, telling him to look after his aged father and that he was not to leave me too far behind. They made me sound like an ambulance case. Leaving our fleeces at the bandstand, we walked together to the Start point, where they were joined by Jake. He admired Paul’s running gear and made an instant friend.
My time that day was about the same as the previous week though my position had slipped a little. I was out of breath and Paul was showing the advantage of youth. When we were on the way home, Paul was saying how much he’d enjoyed it, asking to do it again and saying how much he liked my friends. He was going to tell all his friends at school about it. I asked him not to invite them because there wasn’t room in the car and they might hold us up if they weren’t ready in time. Debbie had given Jenny a lift home.
When we got home, we both had showers and changed before having a bite to eat. We arrived at his new home with Helen at eleven-forty-five, fifteen minutes to spare. He said that he’d see me the following morning and would bring his PlayStation.
On the Sunday, Helen brought Paul to the door: a first since The Split. He raced past me into the house with his PlayStation with just a, “Hi, Dad”. She thanked me for getting him back on time and asked whether I’d want to take him again next time I went to the Parkrun. I asked her would she object. She laughed and said it would be fine. I hadn’t seen her laugh since Christmas. She said that Paul had been full of it when he got back and had told her all about my women friends making a fuss of him. I told her that her dress looked nice: apparently Cliff had bought it for her on her birthday. I hadn’t sent her a card: it hadn’t seemed appropriate in the circumstances.
The day was fairly uneventful. The weather was fine and dry and I was able to persuade him to come to the local park with me before he started with his virtual games. He played on the swings and climbing equipment as usual, but I noticed him looking at the people jogging around the lake.
He asked me if they were people who did the Parkrun as we had. I explained to him that there are hundreds of Parkrun groups around the country and that there was probably one each week in the park that we were in near his home. His curiosity was piqued and he started with a child’s inexhaustible list of questions. I had to explain why the joggers were doing it when there was no Parkrun taking place that morning. I told him that people, older people in particular, need to train in order to get their bodies used to that type of exercise.
He then wanted to know if I ever went training to get ready for Saturday mornings and I told him about the Thursday night group. He asked if I was fit now because of the training and I had to tell him that I’d only been training a couple of times.
“Is that why we didn’t win?” he asked.
I admitted that I was much too unfit yet.
“But you will be, won’t you Daddy if you train more?”
I said that I was probably too old to get back to that level of fitness. He was disappointed. I told him that if he trained regularly, he could win one day.
“Why do we go to Altrincham, Daddy? Why can’t we do the Parkrun here?” he asked.
I was stumped for a moment, but eventually opted for honesty. I told him that it was Susie who’d persuaded me to begin jogging and that I liked training with her. I dreaded him asking me whether his mum and Cliff could jog with us, but his attention had moved to the ice cream man’s van.
When Helen picked him up that evening, I confirmed with her the arrangements for Paul’s sleepover on Friday.
Today my featured photo was taken at my home. This was my first attempt at doing an ‘open-book’ photo. I took the photograph at night with the curtains closed and the only lighting was provided by the two candles. The Bible is open at Psalm 56 – ‘Salvation for the Gentiles’ and the page is marked by a rosary and a card bookmark. Other props are the cross and the books – a different version of the Bible together with missals for Sundays and Weekdays. I’ve posted a colour version of this photograph before in my blog but I thought that it would be nice to show it in black and white.
The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-1 36 MP full frame camera and 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens @ 31 mm and f/8. Shutter speed was 30 secs and the ISO 100. The shot was mounted on a tripod and post processed in Lightroom Classic.