Linzi and I met about 15 years ago when we both joined a local running club. For several years, we ran in a large group twice every week. I was always happy to run alongside Linzi and chat to her, but there were always lots of people to chat with, different routes and a variety of drills every week.
One night we ran, as we often did, up a big hill. Linzi had been away for several weeks due to injury and as we approached the top, I heard her shout “whoop, whoop, whoop!”, doing a passable impersonation of a battleship coming into port. I realised I had missed her during her absence and was really glad she was back. There were a lot of nice women in that club, but the humour, energy and sheer balls it takes to run up a gruellingly huge hill and just as your lungs are bursting and your legs screaming, to squander oxygen on that war cry, was just so perfectly defiant, that I realised Linzi was something special.
The club disbanded years ago and most of the women have stopped running or joined different clubs, but there are still a hardcore half dozen of us who meet three times a week and run about 5 miles. We do the odd race, but nothing like we used to, we do the odd drill but mainly we just run, chat and enjoy each other’s company. We have also been known to have the odd curry and beer and since our husbands all get on well too, we’ve even been known to drag them along on some crazy enterprise or another, for example cycling the length of Wales whilst making a spirited attempt to drink it dry.
Linzi had been tolerating me banging on about this 50 Lunches thing since I began it last September, the poor woman has probably heard a blow by blow account of every lunch. I would really have liked to have lunch with her a lot sooner, but she is just so very, very busy. She’s always off skiing, on a girl’s weekend, visiting family or out for a meal with someone, because Linzi knows everyone. She’s one of three girls, her dad is a celebrated local musician, she has a husband and two sons who are all busy and popular and she works in a high profile job, so I suppose it’s not surprising, but it is remarkable just how many people beep their horn to say hello to her when we are out running. It can be useful of course, if I ever want to know something about what’s going on in Swansea, Linzi will know or will know someone who knows.
The result of this hectic social calendar is that by the time we found a date that we could both manage, it was much closer to Linzi’s birthday than mine. I knew we were probably going to end up celebrating when Linzi arranged for her generous and long suffering husband to give us a lift – no driving for the birthday girls.
29 May 2015
Coast Italian Cafe, High Street, Swansea
Coast Italian Cafe is in an odd location at the top of High Street in Swansea city centre. It’s all bit run down around there, maybe even a bit scary, but Coast is presumably part of the regeneration programme that is being undertaken in the area. It’s a large venue, very dramatically and tastefully decorated and furnished, and has the additional (and very promising if you’re eating there) adornment of whole Parma hams, huge cheeses and a myriad of oils, olives and spices which are for sale as well as for the chef’s use. The staff are some Italian, some Welsh, all very friendly and helpful. Linzi chose the venue because she knows some of the people involved in it. As it happens, I know another of them, so I was happy to see what it was like.
The lunch, not surprisingly, was great fun. We know each other pretty well now – we spend a lot of time together and it’s surprising how running with other people intensifies one’s relationships. We see each other struggle, suffer and feel pain, but we also see each other think we’ve reached our limits when we haven’t, feel unaccountably miserable and just not interested. Of course we also see each other exultant and jubilant because we’ve achieved something we didn’t expect, or more often, because however bad it was, it’s over.
There’s a lot of shorthand in a conversation and a lot of common shared experience, so conversation wanders freely around a huge variety of subjects. Information is imparted and shared freely: Linzi is very knowledgeable in her field, a fact that I ruthlessly plunder every time I see her, but she’s also good for information on local walks, the state of the beaches and where’s good these days for a meal or a drink.
The weather was beautiful for our lunch so after we had finished, and finished the extra glass of wine and the pudding that we most definitely didn’t need, we decided to walk to a convenient location for our lift home. The food had been excellent, the wine plentiful and the company delightful, I waddled home to watch the cup final with a huge jar of Italian olives and a big, boozy smile.