Running for Alice J Parberry


Posted by in November's Magazine

It was at the end of summer, just as my last Leither running article went to print, that I realised I’d been doing more writing about running than running itself.

‘Rightio’ I thought. (Because that’s what I actually think in my head, it’s my call to action.) ‘I know what I’ll do, I’ll run every day for a full fortnight, that should get me back into it’.

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Indeed, as a Personal Trainer who has trained folk to run for over a decade, I have always espoused the importance of rest days. I work in fitness five days a week but I usually have at least one day off and relax at the weekend. I believe rest is essential for muscle recovery, so what would happen if I ran for two weeks non-stop? I thought it was a good idea to try it.

The idea was to run a different route each day, starting at my fitness studio on Balfour Street and running in various relatively traffic-free directions. We’re all creatures of habit, and it was fun to think about new places to run. We were very fortunate with the weather in late September as well. I ran along the coast both ways (on the cycle path to Crewe Toll and down to Silverknowes Esplanade then back along the coast, and also behind Arthur’s Seat down to Musselburgh and back through Porty), I ran various routes to my allotment, combining running with watering the greenhouse.

One of my favourite routes was the inaugural ‘Fireworks Run’ at the end of the festival. Which involved husband Andy and I running to Inverleith Park for the start of the fireworks display, then running through Stockbridge and up through the New Town towards the source of the sparkle, the Castle. We got to Princes Street then ran along George Street looking at the display from various angles – it reminded me of Day of the Triffids as everyone we passed was looking at the sky. (We plan to repeat this run next August if anyone would like to join us.)

On the Saturday of the middle weekend, a particular blister on my foot refused to heal even with the profuse application of my blister dressing of choice, aloe vera gel. I decided on an easy day and cycled to the Cramond 5km ParkRun (www.parkrun.org.uk), a favoured group run of mine, as everyone is so friendly. After a near personal best, I decided to kick back and relax at night and went to check out the Franklin Rock ‘n’ Roll gig at Leith Franklin Cricket Club on Leith Links (brilliant venue!). I’d been exchanging texts with a good friend Alice over the course of the evening, however I decided to go home early, so I’d be good for running in the morning.

Long suffering Andy was roped into an old regular Sunday run – our Kilomathon training route along the cycle path to Crewe Toll then, after passing Blackhall and Ravelston Dykes, take the stairs down to the Water of Leith (they’re easy to miss, keep your eyes peeled) and run back down towards the coast along the Water of Leith. Be patient with the slow-moving tourists gawping at the beauty of Dean Village. (Sometimes we stop at Stockbridge Market to pick up some organic meat from the butcher there. A lean steak with allotment vegetables is a fab meal after a run – good quality protein and antioxidants.)

We were relaxing, post-run, when I got a call from Angela – my friend Alice’s mum – who told me that Alice had died early that morning. We didn’t know any more details. Andy and I sat numb for the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe it, I’d only been texting her the night before.

I don’t take days off work and I trained clients for a full 12 hours the next day. I was in shock all day, on autopilot. That evening I did a dark and frantic run along the cycle path. I was sprinting, running away from the bad news. If I ran fast enough, maybe it wouldn’t be true.

The next day the realisation of what had happened sunk in. Alice Parberry, aged only 31, had died unexpectedly two days previously. My running suddenly took on a different form. Instead of relaxed and enjoyable, it became a form of therapy. When not running my brain was on pause, it was only when running that I could cognate and fully comprehend the actuality of the awfulness. If I hadn’t run every day that week I would have struggled to cope.

On the Thursday I took myself to a favourite route – what I call the Shore Loop – and as I ran past Alice’s flat I couldn’t believe we would never again drink wine whilst looking out of her window at the swans. Thank you Alice for being a wonderful friend. There are many, many, sad people who will miss their very own ‘Sunshine in Leith’. From La Cerise and Leith Music School to her favourite haunt, the Parlour Bar, there is an Alice-shaped hole in a lot of people’s hearts.

Twitter: @tracygriffen
Facebook: /griffenfitnesss

One response to “Running for Alice J Parberry”

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