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Could Do Better

I really don’t like to talk about it at all but over the past few months I have taken up running. I know, it’s come as an enormous shock to you hasn’t it? Kept it quiet didn’t I?

For those of you who have been living under a rock or have my incessant Facebook posts muted so you haven’t seen me banging on about how amazing I am, I have recently completed the BBC’s Couch to 5k program which takes you from being a couch potato to a potato who can run for 30 minutes over the course of 9 weeks. It’s a bit misleading really because unless you run pretty quickly, which presumably most new runners don’t, you don’t actually end up running 5k by the end of it. I do not run quickly. I don’t really do anything quickly and never have (just ask my mum about how long it used to take me to have my bottle when I was a baby, I haven’t changed you know). I think I probably run at a pretty standard middle-aged fat girl rate though so half an hour takes me to about 4.1km which is about 2.5 miles.

To give myself a target to aim for after the course was done I signed up for the 5k Go Red Run for The Eve Appeal who are a charity that raise money for funding and research into the 5 gynaecological cancers. I became aware of this charity after my amazing school friend Vicky, passed away suddenly in 2014 following a very short battle with one of these cancers. Her lovely, but terrifying (because they were in years way above us at Kendrick) sisters and her dad have raised thousands following her death and as Vicky was a real proper runner who could run marathons and everything it felt like a good thing to do in her memory.

I set my initial fundraising target at £100 because it’s such a tough time for people at the moment. The last thing people are able or want to do is give money to charity. I absolutely understand that being that I don’t have a job at the moment myself (woe is me) so I didn't want to be too demanding. I did a cheeky little Facebook post announcing my intentions and very quickly hit that target so I increased it to £200 and you lovely wonderful generous lot went mental with your hard earned cash. At time of writing, you have all helped me to raise £1000. That’s bonkers mate. I am massively overwhelmed by your support and generosity; it means the absolute world to me. Thank you.

So today was the day I’d been waiting for. My first 5k run for Vicky and The Eve Appeal and of course for all of you. I had my new trainers on and my special play list ready for the event featuring the following classics that Vicky would like or reminded me of her:

  • S Club Party – S Club 7

  • Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys

  • Spice Up Your Life – Spice Girls

  • Kiss From a Rose – Seal

  • Stronger – Britney Spears

  • Dreams – Gabrielle

  • Runaway Train – Soul Asylum

  • Groove Is In The Heart – Deee-Lite

I’m really sorry Vicky but I just couldn’t bring myself to add any Steps to the playlist. I know you loved them and I wanted to honour you but that was too much. They make me want to stab myself in the ears with knitting needles and I just felt that wouldn’t be conducive to my run.

I changed my route at the last minute to go around Palmer Park as I know it better than the original route I had planned and as my left shin was giving me a bit of trouble I thought it would be more sensible to do a route I know so it’s one less thing to think about. I was all ready to go in my red top and matching red nails (Go Red Run innit, you have to wear red) with clashing pink hair and leopard print leggings. It was a strong look.

Off I went running like a real running runner in a running race. It was all fine until about halfway round and that naughty left shin of mine just went. It felt like someone had set fire to it. I kept going for a bit but had to slow it right down to walking and could have cried. Then as if by magic, Mr D appeared with Chad and Brad! It wasn’t really magic, they were on their way to meet me at the “finish line” but their timing was perfect. Brad Logan came hurtling over to me and headbutted me in the crotch which I could have done without, but it was lovely to see their smiley faces. I could have given up right then and there but their “keep going Mummy” spurred me on.

So I kept going... My brain is my own worst enemy (as well as my left shin it seems) and I just kept telling myself how stupid I was to have thought I could do it and how everyone would think I was a fraud. So, to shut that brain up I started running again. I stopped and walked for a few seconds here and there but I finished off running back down from Cemetery Junction to the park where my boys were waiting for me, cheering me on, ready with hugs and a Mr Whippy ice cream with marshmallows and flakes.

Obviously, I promptly burst out crying because my leg hurt but also because that’s what I do. I’m highly skilled in the art of crying. I wish there was a job that involved crying because I’d have ‘Crying expert’ on my CV and I wouldn’t be unemployed right now. I love a good cry.

Overall, I travelled 5km today like I said I would, but I am livid with my shin and really disappointed in myself that I didn’t run it all. Once Shinny McShinster the running saboteur has sorted himself out I am going to run 5k and I’m going to do it really well and no doubt bore you all telling you about it. We have unfinished business me and that 5k route.

I think that Vicky would have been proud of me today regardless of my disappointing performance. I think me doing this running thing and being so enthusiastic about it would have amazed her because she knew how not sporty I am. I really cannot stress that non sportiness enough. Not a sportser.

Writing this has helped me come to terms with my failure today (I really am being very dramatic about it, you’d have thought I’d messed up a marathon the way I’m going on) but the other thing that really helped was overhearing Chad Logan talking to his Bestest Bestie over Zoom as they were playing Roblox telling him how his mum had gone 5km today and it had taken 52 minutes and she was so much faster at running than she used to be. The Bestest Bestie could not have cared less I’m sure but the fact that Chad was so impressed he interrupted chat about Roblox to talk about me makes my heart explode a bit.

I had been considering entering the Reading Half Marathon next year (if it happens) but I think that might be too much for me. Turns out I’m not the invincible Olympic runner I thought I was. I’m just a nearly 42-year-old running potato so I might need to calm down on the future racing plans.

I am a nearly 42-year-old running potato all the same though and my brain would do well to remember that’s no mean feat.

Shut up brain. Shut up shin. Nobody asked you two anyway.

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