‘I’m going to miss that old dog,’ said Nick as they returned from the vet’s.
‘Me too,’ said Sarah, sniffing back tears and turning the dog’s collar in her hands while thinking fondly back over the years since Rowdy had been a pup. ‘You don’t fancy getting another?’
Nick frowned. ‘Rowdy was special. It just feels wrong getting another dog so soon.’
‘Yeah, I know what you mean.’
As they drove in silence Sarah realised how empty her life would be without Rowdy to walk. Even as an old dog he’d still been eager for his morning and evening outings, although in the past year he’d slowed down a lot.
The first weekend without their four-legged companion felt very strange.
‘We could go away if you like,’ suggested Nick on Saturday morning.
‘What about that B&B in Symonds Yat? Shall I give them a call?’
They headed off about eleven. It took just under an hour to reach their destination.
‘Remember that time Rowdy fell in the river?’ said Sarah as they slowed down passing the familiar huddle of pubs and cafés on the edge of the River Wye.
‘Just down there,’ said Nick. ‘We were lucky that kid in the kayak fished him out.’
‘We’ve got to stop this, Nick,’ said Sarah, dabbing at her eyes. ‘Please, no more about Rowdy this weekend.’
But everywhere they went, dogs and more dogs. Small ones, large ones, quiet ones, yappy ones.
‘I’m going for a run,’ said Nick before breakfast on Sunday morning. It was his habit to jog a few miles on Saturday and Sunday mornings while Sarah took Rowdy for a walk. As soon as he left Sarah burst into tears. She really missed that dog.
After a couple of weeks Sarah realised she was gaining weight and put it down to lack of exercise.
‘Why don’t you come jogging with me?’ suggested Nick.
‘I could never keep up.’
‘You don’t have to. Just go at your own pace. Why not give it a try on Saturday morning?’
‘I’m having my hair done.’
Sat in front of the mirror on Saturday morning with her wet hair scraped back Sarah could see how plump her face looked. And was that the beginnings of a double chin?
‘I’ll come jogging with you tomorrow morning,’ she said when she returned home.
On Sunday morning at half past eight Nick and Sarah shut the front door behind them and got into the car. After a short drive Nick pulled into the car park by the reservoir.
‘I’m going to run up to the crossroads,’ he said. ‘Turn right, then down the steep hill, up the other side, back round in a big circle, and back up this hill.’
Sarah felt exhausted just listening to his route.
He noticed her face fall. ‘Why don’t you just try a fifteen minute run for a start, then a short rest, then another fifteen minutes? It’s just a gentle climb to the crossroads, then if you turn left instead of right you’ll miss out the steep hill.’
‘Okay, I’ll give that a try.’ Sarah felt less daunted by this otion.
‘I’ll be about an hour,’ said Nick, taking a swig from his water bottle before heading off. Standing beside the car, she admired the ease with which his muscular legs powered away.
With Nick out of sight, she did a few stretches and took a sip from her water bottle. Then she locked the car and took a deep breath.
She’d only gone a few yards and already her lungs felt as though they could burst. What looked like a gentle slope was a different story when you were trying to run up it. She stopped, gasping for air, sweat beading on her forehead and trickling down the back of her neck.
After a minute’s rest Sarah decided to walk to the top of the hill and then start jogging. By the time she reached the crossroads she felt much more warmed up and in control of her breathing, so she broke into a trot. It was so much easier on the level.
She checked her watch a little later, surprised to see she’d been jogging for twenty minutes already. She pulled in to the side of the road and rested a minute or two before heading back in the direction of the car.
Half way back to the reservoir a car overtook her.
‘Keep going, love!’ called a man through the window.
Sarah ignored him. Why did people have to be so patronising?
She hadn’t noticed the slight hill on the outward journey, as she’d been running in a downward direction. But she certainly noticed it on the way back. It was all she could do to keep going, and she felt quite dizzy by the time the road flattened out. Fortunately the last stretch back to the car was very much downhill, and after a short breather she picked up her heels once more and fairly sailed back to the car.
She caught a glimpse of her red, sweaty face and wild hair in the wing mirror. What a mess! Still, she felt she’d achieved something.
By the time she got her breath back she could see Nick at the bottom of the hill. He was sweating by the time he reached the car, but not too badly out of breath and certainly not as red in the face as she was even now. How did he do it?
‘How did you get on?’ he asked, reaching for his water bottle.
‘It was okay. But I’m not much good at running up hills, even little ones.’
‘Not a problem. I know several places where you can run on the flat while I head off into the hills.’
Sarah grinned. She felt as though she could run quite competently on the level, and maybe with practice she could build up her fitness and ability to run up hills. And hopefully drop the excess pounds. Now all she had to do was get a t-shirt printed to advise passers-by that their patronising comments were unwelcome.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015