Picture the scene – it’s possibly the hottest day we’ve experienced here in the UK for quite a while so I decided in my absolute wisdom that it’s high time for a new hobby.
Now I have to be honest here, I’ve not done any serious running for a while. Let me rewind us all to the late 80’s where eleven year old me was chosen (by a PE teacher who was evidently ridiculously short on candidates) to represent my year group at the 800m. Having conveniently wiped much the experience from my increasingly addled brain I don’t recall any particular training, just the terrifying end where I spectacularly collapsed in a heap in last place and rounded it all off in style with an asthma attack. Not cool.
Or perhaps a little later, the mid 90’s. This time in High School where the cross country consisted largely of whingeing about having to do it in the first place (it was always raining) then making a half ditched attempt at the first chunk of the course where the teachers could still see you and then do one or more of the following –
1) Go to your mates house for a bit
2) Go to the chippy
3) Have a fag
Again, really not cool.
So my running career never really took off to be honest. I tried again a little after my thirtieth birthday, presumably in the mindset of “I’m getting on a bit and need to get fit” and joined an actual running club. Which was brilliant! I did, dare I say, quite well, but then I got a puppy. And I felt so guilty leaving her to go to the park and take myself off for a run instead of taking her for a walk that I stopped going. Yet again, this girl wasn’t going anywhere fast.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. Hottest day of the year, gym clothes on and I find myself in the park with Lily-dog. Now she’s got even smaller legs than me but for some reason we started to run. Emergency toilet stops aside (her, thankfully not me) we somehow managed to do a slightly sweaty 2.5 kilometres, during which we did the usual route we normally take which in my mind was at least 5k. It’s really not, who knew?!
The goal in my head was indeed the magic 5k but this proves to be not quite as easy as I thought. Firstly, 5k is a lot further than you think. Secondly, I have found that my pace is just a teeny bit slower than that tortoise guy who raced the hare. Thirdly when Lily-dog spots something she wants and needs to investigate, it must be done immediately and she quite frankly doesn’t give a monkeys who the daft woman on the end of the lead is never mind what she’s trying to achieve.
I also found that a little like when bikers pass each other on the road, if you pass another runner at any point in your quest you must greet them. The first person who I passed looked to be a lady around the same age as me and struggling only a little less. Miraculously we both managed an out of breath “morning” to each other.
Then of course, there’s the kit. The outfits, the accessories, the equipment. From the old man who passed me yesterday dressed in a shirt and trousers, looking as though he’s off to the library but running for everything he’s worth, to the ones with all the latest gadgets. Me? I’m usually the first to be the one with “all the gear and no idea” but this time standard gym kit is working just fine. (The problem lies with where you keep your keys, your phone, your lip balm – you know, the essentials?)
Then on Saturday morning, I drop my little one off at his football training and off Lil and I go to the park for a “nice little walk”. She decides to chase a bird and I’m dragged after her. And we don’t stop. Whether this is Lily-dog trying to coax Mummy into “just bloody do it” or something in me thinks the same, we channel our inner Forrest Gump and just keep running.
First kilometre? Easy. Shocked at how we got there so quickly. (Lulled into false sense of security basically). Second kilometre? Lil wants to inspect an interesting exhibit of fox poo that would be oh so lovely if she could just have a little roll in it but no, we keep on. Third kilometre? Not going to lie, it hurts a bit. One particular hill I am forced to stop for a minute before my lungs explode out of my chest and I am convinced this could be my untimely end. This, typically, takes place just as the Saturday morning running club start to pass me so I naturally attempt to style it out by pretending I’m adjusting the settings on my watch which is telling me to keep moving, drink water and just get on with it.
Then, at the fourth kilometre I experience what I have only heard about in running folklore. The divine bit, the part when you don’t feel like you’re dying, you can totally do this and sssh don’t tell anyone but this is quite fun? (Not a word I ever thought went with running…) I get into a decent pace (easy for me to say, I have no idea but it feels as though it’s going quite well) and it’s all good. It’s sunny, Lil is trotting along next to me, all six of our little legs are coping and all is well with the world. Suddenly my watch buzzes. I’ve only bloody gone and done 5 kilometres. The goal is reached! (At this point a little bit of me, no actually quite a big bit, thinks “Thank God for that, we can go home.”)
This is it, Lily-dog and I are the new Brownlee brothers, let’s just sign ourselves up to every fun run going. She gives me a look which translates to something like “We did it Mummy!” but is possibly more along the lines of “Get me home in the next five minutes you mad woman so I can lie in my basket and lets never speak of it again”.
Until next time that is.