Before Troy....

Posted on: 20 Feb 2021

... No-one spoke of a person's weakness as being their Achilles heel.

I very much doubt that flimsy little tendon would be any mother's choice to name their child after either.

Thetis, the boy's mother, tried to make her son immortal by holding him in the waters of the River Styx, which was said to confer the invulnerability of the gods.

But she held him tightly by the ankle, so the waters of the Styx touched him everywhere but there.

Achilles was unbreakable, except for that one spot where the protection of his mother's hands had kept him soft.

And so, after 10 years of brutal war, when Paris, younger brother of Hector, seeking vengeance for his brother's slaughter, took aim with his bow, the god Apollo steered his arrow straight into that one spot where he knew Achilles was weak.

Perhaps we have all been weak there ever since?

It is certainly true for me.

 From a running career that only started in the summer of 2007, I've struggled with achilles injuries most of the way. Edinburgh marathon 2009 was perhaps the pinnacle of my suffering - to be able to run that marathon that year, for every hour I did of training there was at least another hour of physio and re-hab to go hand in hand with the run.

This week, COVID came to town and made itself known within our world - attended a first aid course (needed), then got told I had to isolate because someone on it had tested positive for COVID-19.

My sympathies already lay strongly with those of you forced to work from home. Believe me, after this week, I now feel more than ever that what you are being faced with is really, really hard. It seems no more fair on the homeworkers than it does on the children not being allowed to go to school.

Ironic that all of the decision makers, screwing with your lives, when they see the real impact of what they've done with lockdown, on top of Brexit, will be lying cosy in their graves whilst the world they've created burns.

No-one is immortal. Not Achilles, not Thetis, not even Apollo - and certainly not us! 

If only we could accept our time to die then COVID would be irrelevant - for everyone - but I guess on mass we've lost our faith, and so become afraid to die.

No Valhalla for any of us - we don't deserve it - we are cowering in our homes and living our lives in fear.

It was nice, for once, to wake up in the morning and not feel that nagging pain in the lower part of my legs; to move downstairs with the freedom of not having to use my hands to take my body weight because my weakened tendon doesn't budge that time of day.

It was nice.

So the running gear went on and, for precaution rather than need, I heated up a wheat bag and applied it to that heel.

Tights on, hoodie on, hat and gloves and trail shoes - then out the door I went into the dull grey wetness of a pretty bog standard February morning in a depressed and suffering North Wales.

Walked a bit to warm my joints up, and then I started, slowly, to run.

The paths have become so muddy now, because no-one is allowed to go anywhere else, that even the X-Talons have no bite, downhill motion was more akin to dodgy roller skating than anything resembling a run. 

Woodland path gave way to maintained track, to treacherous steep sided path of preference beside a golf course nobody can use. Uphill, a battle, power 3 steps upwards and slide a step or 2 back down. Tarmac, walk a bit, take a path I've never used before and chat with some miniature ponies looking miserable in the rain. Another walk break on more tarmac after meeting 2 Alsatians whose tail ends wanted to be friendly and whose front ends wanted to bite. It's a lovely barn conversion they live at - nice to see good building work with character and style.

Steep climb up a muddy track - it's so wet out there at the moment it feels like the entire surface of the earth has become detached from the layers beneath..... as I type this, I wonder if that doesn't make it a perfect candidate to be a politician in the halls of Westminster or the Senedd?

Out of the woods, briefly up a track that has become a bubbling stream under the weight of recent rains, then into open fields. Boggy, moist, sodden fields, dragging the feet down into the Earth, making me work for every second of forward motion I could maintain.

I felt more alive at this point than I have felt for weeks - I found a sense of freedom - a clearness in my mind and functionality in my body that both took me away, if only briefly, from the constance of the pressure living under lockdown is placing on our lives.

I'm grateful for the good things that have happened to me during this time - perhaps I might even consider myself one of the "winners" when we reflect back on it in years to come - by which, of course, I mean that I haven't lost as much as many other folks.

Still got my loved ones, still got my job, still got a roof over my head..... and of course I've got my Molly.

COVID has brought us together quicker than would otherwise have been the case, she is an amazing woman, and finally, I can say that I know the love that I give out is reciprocated in every way - finally I have met someone who loves me exactly as I am, someone who has no wish whatsoever to change me - just as I wouldn't change a single thing about her.

Our circumstances, of course I'd like to change them, none of us want to live our lives in the way that we currently are. I hope that you get better news in England than was announced for Wales this Friday passed.

In the meantime, I hope that mud, and bog, and water running off the hills, will be like the waters of the Styx and allow me to run again - because I found myself out there today, in the wet and wind and rain.

I'm still OK, I just forget it sometimes when I'm living my life inside.

I imagine that's the same for many folks.

Tell us your story

Inspire and be inspired by sharing your health or fitness journey. Your blog will provide you with a permanent record of your progress, with the added bonus of motivation and encouragement from our members along the way.

* Manage my blogs