I’ve held off on this for a few weeks, to give myself time to heal, time to reflect, time to… oh who am I kidding, time to leave the county, hide my battered face and figure out how I can claw back some dignity. However, I’ve had three children – any dignity I had disappeared 5 and a half years ago.
In 2012, I was convinced by a friend to sign up for the Bristol Half Marathon, I’d just given birth to my second child and I was ready for a challenge. Idiot. For those of you who know me, this kind of sporting commitment is pretty damn baffling. My PE days at school amounted to hiding with my best friend Katie behind a wall to avoid doing the circuit, during orienteering, while the teacher ran past to check for stragglers. Or being the last 2 (usually on opposing teams) in Bench-ball (if you’ve never played it, it’s basically Lord of the Flies with teenage girls and volley balls. Ripped out hair and limbs everywhere. Shudder.) The only thing I excelled at was the 10m shower dash at the end of PE. I could duck and dive every jet expertly, without getting the slightest bit wet whilst overtaking every single other student in the process. Northern secondary schools could be grim in the 90’s.
I agreed to this, pretty soon realising how far 13 miles actually is: I drove to work, it took me 20 minutes, I went through 2 towns and countless villages… that still wasn’t far enough. I had only ever run 3 miles, and when I say run, wheezed might be more accurate. However, supported by 2 very good friends I was encouraged and motivated, occasionally bullied into regular training (humiliation). My husband joined team Bristol, and quickly realised he was bloody good at it (can’t find anything, wins at everything – infuriating)
Things went swimmingly, obviously.
I injured my ankle badly, ran round our town with a hole in the bum of my leggings and annoyed a hell of a lot of people talking about running, and by nagging people to sponsor us. It was a pretty irritating 3 months for those close to me, sorry. The low point of this came pretty early on when I was whinging to my long time compadre, amigo and sports fanatic, Katie:
“I just don’t think I can do it.”
“You will. You always do what you set your mind to and you hate letting people down.” Shit. Now I had to do it. And I did. I grafted, limped, whinged and crawled my way through it and raised £1000 for Rowcroft Hospice in the process. We ran in memory of my husband’s adored mum. Who would, without doubt have laughed until she cried at the notion of us doing it.
This is all procrastination.
In our recent trip to Yorkshire, we used the chance to get some miles in for the Bristol half that we’ve foolishly agreed to repeat. Yorkshire is hilly. It’s pretty, but I swear the air is thinner and there are no flat roads – none! I set off ridiculously early on a Sunday morning to avoid the West Yorkshire early risers.
Running in Cornwall:
- Don’t make eye contact
- At most, a polite nod is acceptable
- Everyone wears branded running clothes
- Lots of people run
- It’s normal
Running in West Yorkshire:
- Everyone wants a chat
- People look at you like you’re insane
- Everyone’s a comedian: ‘Get ‘tha knees up!’ ‘He went that way love!’ ‘You’ve just missed t’bus’ etc
- It’s quite a lonely affair
So there I was, gasping my way through what I hoped would be a 5 mile run, making good time, looking forward to it being over… when I saw a broken paving slab.
Brain: Don’t trip on that. You know what you’re like…
Feet: Don’t trip on what? We’ve talked about this – BE SPECIFIC!
Brain: Never mind you’ve missed it. Crap, you’ve tripped over a grate now. That’s quite ironic.
Feet: Why didn’t you warn me? Jesus, Brain you totally distracted me, I’d have been nowhere near that broken grate if you’d not mentioned it. You’re such a backseat driver.
Brain: Hands.. do you realise how close we are to the floor??
Hands: Did you say something?
Shoulder: What the hell?! IMPACT!
Face: OW!! What did I do wrong??
Knee: I was totally not to blame here.
Hands: We’re totally unscathed.
It was bad enough that I fell spectacularly on a main road, in broad daylight on my face, but to make matters worse, a man who I had just overtaken literally 30 seconds before stepped over me. No ‘are you ok?’ no pause, just a sigh at the inconvenience of having to step over a sprawled out, quivering, bleeding 31 year old who was just about to phone her husband. I was embarrassed about being so pathetic I was invisible.
“Oh my GOD, are you ok?! You just fell on your face and everything! You look awful… what happened to make you do that??” Hi, northern lady in leopard print dressing gown.
“I’m fine, really.” wiping blood out of my eyes
“Come in, you daft bugger, I’ll make you a drink”
“Thank you, that’s lovely, I’ll just phone my husband to come and get me”
I quickly phoned my husband, seriously, what the hell was I thinking? If he can’t find a knife in the cutlery drawer, he’s not going to be able to find an injured wife on a road that stretches from Huddersfield to Manchester. He couldn’t either. Me and the kindly lady who’d had had her Sunday morning hoovering session interrupted made polite chit chat for 15 minutes.
“Why would you do it? It doesn’t look much fun.” I had no answer.
Husband phones: Where are you??
Mortified, hissing: The address I gave you. Still
Husband: You’re not.
Seething: No?! Pretty sure I am!
Husband, Nope, just knocked on the door and asked for my wife, they looked at me like they wanted me arrested.
Gritted teeth, nodding and smiling at my new friend: PUT. DAD. ON
Dad: Where are you?
Me: Bottom of Cowlersley
Dad: There in 5.
Once they arrived my husband wryly ascertained that the road was so long there were 2 houses with the same number half a mile apart. However, he did a great job of being the concerned loving man – door held open, helping aid my ‘injured’ ankle (yes, I pretended I was much more badly injured to make it less embarrassing. I don’t know why, that’s actually more embarrassing!)
Car door closed,cheery, grateful wave to leopard printed hoover lady.
Husband: Seriously, who breaks their fall with their shoulder and their face? What’s wrong with you?!”
I think I might just direct him to this post, by way of explanation.