Today began at 6am with the intention of a run, much like my usual Saturdays back home. I can’t think of better way to kick start a weekend!
A few weeks ago, when the Malta Marathon initially got cancelled, I joined an online forum called Running Malta. I was hoping that somebody might be able to recommend a half-marathon route on the island because I was unable to get a refund on my flights and accommodation and didn’t want my training to go to waste.
I noticed that somebody had recommended The Gerald DeGaetano 5k group, who gather at the Loretu Chapel in Gudja every Saturday morning at 8am.
Malta doesn’t have a ParkRun event yet, but this is the equivalent. Like ParkRun, it’s a gathering of friendly likeminded runners who are there to celebrate the sport and have a good time.
Obviously the marathon is now going ahead again (... of sorts!), but I was still really keen to run with the group this morning. So it was up and out of the door in my trainers before the city even stirred from its slumber.
I’ll be honest... As the taxi crawled deeper and deeper into the Maltese countryside, I did start to wonder if I had been kidnapped.
The taxi driver had rocked up at my apartment in a large van – a decision he was clearly regretting as he navigated it around tight bends on treacherous country lanes, dodging stray cats and dog walkers. I didn’t need to understand Maltese to know that he was cursing the day I was born under his breath as he gesticulated angrily to his car doors, which were making conspicuous scraping noises against the dry stone walls.
Me and my new friends at the 5k this morning! 😊
I received such a warm welcome! The group honestly couldn’t have been lovelier, and the route was GORGEOUS!
The Maltese countryside made my heart skip a beat. With sumptuous views tumbling out across the island, the route waltzed us up and down quaint lanes lined by flower-studded meadows.
As we raced through our last km, a plane came in to land on the runway in-front of us. The bottom of the plane felt close enough to touch and the intense noise charged my legs into action.
Somehow, another runner and I managed to separate from the group and got lost, which added about half a kilometre to our route and minutes to our time, but it was all part of the fun. 🤦🏻♀️🤣 Truth be told, I would have quite liked to have pottered along those lanes all morning in a little world of my own, so much was I enjoying being mesmerised by the sheer fairytale tranquillity of my surroundings.
The 5k route - absolutely stunning! 😍
I honestly thank my lucky stars every single day that I have this relationship with running nowadays. This passion has been the driving force behind some of the best moments of my life, and this morning was definitely up there.
Sometimes it’s easy to sit there and curse anorexia for all it has taken from me, but then I look at what I have got out of it, despite everything. From the ashes of my pain, my love for running was born, and this love continues to save my life every single day.
I really do not know what I would do without running; it means everything to me.
Today, my running brought me here, to Malta, to this perfect part of the island so coyly hidden from tourists. Today, my running blessed me with a morning I will forever cherish.
After my run, I headed home, changed, and caught the bus to Mdina.
I had a divine afternoon exploring the ‘Silent City’ in the rain. I deliberately discarded the maps and just allowed myself to be swept along the empty streets.
I sat inside the deserted Annunciation Church and wrote with the background noise of gentle rainfall beyond the doors.
I honestly can’t recall the last time I felt so content.
Breathing the air of a new city ignites my mind with creativity and gratitude.
I tried a traditional Maltese ftira stuffed with omelette, and I couldn’t resist popping into a cute little patisserie for a cake as well. I savoured every mouthful.
I really do feel as though the voice of anorexia got lost in transit somewhere. Funnily enough, it hasn’t piped up AT ALL the whole time I have been in Malta. It just goes to show what happens to your wellbeing when you entire mental state changes from stressed to content. It feels like history repeating itself in terms of my first recovery following my previous travelling and living abroad. I am starting to realise that the voice of anorexia weakens when you discover the confidence to shout over it...
To quote one of my favourite songs: It’s just a change in me, something in my liberty...
Whenever I visit anywhere new, I always devise a bucket list to work through.
I wrote out my Malta list a few months ago and I have just had a peek.
After running the half marathon and swimming with dolphins, item number three reads: ‘Write, run, read, explore, eat good food, sleep in, dress fabulously, listen to music, dance, get to know myself again, take myself out to dinner and feel free...’
It’s life lessons in the simplest form, but so many of us forget to adhere to these basic staples of self care.
I have written PAGES upon PAGES in my notebook, and several blogs!
I have run in a new place with new friends.
I have lay in bed till midnight and read.
I have slept in till 9 o’clock (not this morning, and definitely not tomorrow morning!).
I have worn new clothes that I have saved especially.
I have blasted No Scrubs out of my laptop and enthusiastically mimed every word into my Tangle Teaser.
I have twerked in the mirror to Pitbull like it’s 2011 all over again.
I have learned a LOT about myself and day by day, I can feel Cara making her comeback.
I have taken myself out to dinner every night.
And I have never felt freer.
... When you're travelling solo and you try to get a dead arty shot and have to balance your phone on a ledge and try to look casual when a couple appear and wonder why your phone is just chillin on a bit of brick while you pose nonchalantly in-front of it... 🤣
It’s [half] marathon day tomorrow.
My alarm is currently set for 4am. I have my Adidas and Nike set out ready, with my ‘cookie dough’ protein bar and Frosties next to my trainers.
While I run a half marathon every week at home, there is something very special about this one. It’s what got me through those dark months of injury and gave me a purpose to work towards when my lack of running made me feel as though I had lost my identity.
Since arriving on the island, Malta has become my happy place, taught me some valuable life lessons and brought my closer to the memory of my Grandma.
Malta has given me the courage to re-evaluate my dreams and prioritise what matters the most to me. This is my life. It’s time to stop adhering to the ‘what if’s’ and start realising that I am in the charge of the controls of my life.
I feel ready to do Malta proud and prove to myself that I can bounce back from anything.
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©