Monthly Archives: August 2013

The one where I go nuts with nerves …

Three weeks to go and I’m HYSTERICAL with nerves.

It all started about two weeks ago when I started having nightmares. You know the kind of thing – I miss the race, I can’t see my family, my legs give way, I’m chased by lions, just the usual last minute nerves. Instead of telling myself none of those things are going to happen, I have done the exact opposite and given into my fears and planned for all eventualities (apart from the lion thing. If that happens I’ll just run up a tree or play dead or something). So I have now planned how my family are getting to the event, how frequent the trains are, how long it will take, what travel cards we need. The list is endless. And every time I try to tell them about my plans they look at me like I’m mental, tell me I’m being hysterical before saying ‘We’ll sort it, don’t worry’. Why does that phrase make me instantly more stressed? They haven’t sorted it, by the way, and I’m about to have an actual nervous breakdown.

At this point I’m in agreement with them – I am being hysterical – but it’s hard not to. I’ve trained for a year and a half and I want everything to go right. My training is about there. I did a comfortable eight mile hill run the week before last and a ten-and-a-half mile run on Sunday. I just have a few shorter runs to go and then I’m ready for the start line. If only I could shake this feeling that the world is going to implode before my race.

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The one where it all becomes very real …

Last night, after sifting through all of those Visa bills and final demands (that was a joke, Dad) I came across the most exciting piece of post since I sent away for Tony the Tiger bike reflectors from a packet of Frosties. Weren’t the eighties greeeeat?! (that was awful and I can only apologise).

Anyway, in the post was my GREAT NORTH RUN RACE PACK!  As you can tell by my screamy capitals I was unusually excited by this. So happy that I whooped like it was 1989 until of course reality dawned on me that the race pack was a signifier that in just four and a half weeks I’m going to run 13 miles. It’s not like I haven’t done it before, I ran my first half in April, but it didn’t go exactly to plan. Firstly, it was too hot (I have to have very specific running conditions before I stop making excuses for my slow time) and secondly my right knee gave way after ten miles so  I ran the last three miles screaming out in pain like a mental patient undergoing electric shock therapy. The whole experience was pretty terrible. Even more worrying than the broken knee was the fact I was smiling on all of the official pictures. I tell people it was probably just wind.

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Right there is the confident face of a winner. Oh wait, not it isn’t!

Anyway, the reason I ran a half marathon in preparation for my half marathon was to settle my nerves so on the day of the Great North Run I could just get out there and enjoy it. This did not happen. Now, I’m terrified of my knee giving way again. Why or why do I do this to myself? Suddenly this shit just got real.

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The one where I come out of the shadows …

Okay, so I’ve pretty much spent most of my life looming, skulking and living in the shadows. This is through my own choice. I like to go unnoticed, unless it’s at work, in which case it’s quite embarrassing to have to explain to someone who has just introduced themselves to me that I have in fact met them on at least half a dozen previous occasions. When I got my last promotion (within my own team) I was often asked how my new role was going, followed by that awkward  ‘So, how long have you been here, now?’ Obviously the person asking expected me to say three weeks and couldn’t hide their shock/embarrassment when I said two years. I literally go unnoticed, it’s like I’ve got super hero stealth powers.

Or so I did, until I started running. It seems that running makes you more visible than anyone else in the world, as witnessed by the numerous wolf whistles, beeping of horns and general staring hurled in my direction. At first I wore all black. I don’t know why, but I thought it would help, and it fit in with the whole ‘I want to live in the shadows’ vibe I have going on. But then the boyf complained he couldn’t see me when he comes out to support me at races. I should say that I’m only five foot one so the likelihood of seeing me in a mass of people is particularly slim. So, on his advice, and when I got a little more confident, I started wearing colour. Not full on colour like my mate B from Secret Tuesday Running Club. She loves to run in BRIGHT clothing fully aware that by making us stand out directly contradicts my ‘I am trying to live in the shadows’ thing. However, she runs faster than me so we’re rarely running together, and when I have to take my glasses off during a rain storm and am temporarily blind, I can always see what looks like a giant Calypso lolly running in the distance.

The progression from black to colour has taken a year, but finally it’s complete. I now run in blue, yellow, red, white and pink. Oh and (you might want to take a deep breath before you read this) … I recently bought a pair of short shorts. SHORT SHORTS!! Obviously they’re black, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Perhaps by the marathon I’ll be wearing neon short shorts. Now there’s a thought …

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The one where time flies …

I can’t believe a week has gone by since I was last moaning about going to running club. Why does it come around so quickly? I can’t even make an excuse because the Great North Run is in five weeks. FIVE WEEKS! I had the look of an insane person as I typed that.

I managed to get out and do a 7 mile run quite comfortably on Sunday morning, so I’m a little less anxious than I was this time last week, even though I’m aware that that’s only half of the 13 mile goal. But I felt comfortable and strong so it’s all looking good. I also did a 5k Parkrun on Saturday morning. There were 123 people in the race and I came 88th! Oh the shame. Still it’s the taking part that (apparently) counts.

Just have to get through the humiliation of running club and then I can relax into the week.

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The one where I introduce you to STRC …

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Mad dogs and Secret Tuesday Running Club go out in the midday sun

Today I am going to introduce you to something so wonderful it will make your teeth hurt. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Secret Tuesday Running Club. Now, there are two things you should know about Secret Tuesday Running Club, the first being that it is in no way a secret. And the second that we don’t meet on a Tuesday. So, today being Thursday we went for a lunch time run. There are three members of STRC and as the other two, B and H, are much younger and fitter than me, I’m always the one sweating and panting at the back of the pack. Today we ran our short route, running over Vauxhall Bridge, along the Thames, back over Lambeth Bridge and back to the office.  It would have been enjoyable had it not been so bloody hot. We all came in looking like Ribena berries and I continued to sweat for … oh wait, I’m still sweating.

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The one where I enjoy running club …

Okay so after spending most of yesterday thinking of ways to injure myself so I couldn’t go to running club, I actually found myself enjoying running club. I know! It’s insane to me too. Now I’m not going to put it down to the fact that the faster runners in my group didn’t turn up, but rather that I am a better runner than I realized. I also consider my one run in the French Alps as ‘altitude training’, which I imagine significantly improved my fitness. Never mind the gallons of beer and wine that I consumed immediately after said run.

We did interval training (30 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow) over six minutes, had a rest and then did another four minutes. Then we finished with a two lap ‘snake’ where we all run in a line and the runner at the back overtakes and runs to the front. My boyf trained with the super-fast super-fit group and cheered me on as I ran around the track with a smile on my face. This has never happened before. Long may it continue! (It won’t)

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The one where I am terrified of running club …

Today is Tuesday. Tuesdays terrify me. Tuesdays are RUNNING CLUB TRAINING days. To a normal runner, training is probably quite fun. To me, training is ritual humiliation. Last time I went to training I stupidly signed up for the club 5k champs. I came second to last, and I believe I may have cheated. I lost track of how many laps I’d run and ended up finishing when the embarrassment of the entire running club cheering me on (because they had all finished 10 minutes earlier) climbed to epic levels. I have not been back. Tonight is the night. Wish me luck …

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The one where I explain myself …

First half marathon done!

First half marathon done!

Here’s the story so far … Last year I was inspired by London 2012 to take up a sport. I’ve never really been the sporty type and as a child was only ever able to compete by agreeing some kind of trade off with a better, much sportier friend before the race started. Or, if I was lucky enough for all of my peers to come down with food poisoning, contract dysentery or have their periods on the same week, meaning I was the only competitor in the race. Basically, I was shit. In fact I was worse than shit, I was a choir geek. God, I loved choir. And otters. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a kid with a love of singing show tunes and collecting ceramic otters is never going to end up in Team GB. So it was as much a surprise to me as it was everyone around me when I decided one day to take up sport. And, after long using Jerry Seinfeld’s excuse ‘I choose not to run’, I chose the exact opposite and I headed out the door early one morning last summer to run around Victoria Park, East London. The fact I couldn’t run for five minutes without weeping didn’t matter. I was finally sporty. Obviously it was as much demoralising as it was inspiring when I was lapped (numerous times) by the entire Kenyan running team who were also running in Victoria Park.

So, I kept running. I’ve now completed my first half marathon – an experience as good as it was painful. And in just six weeks (Jesus Christ!) I’ll run the Great North Run. But, not content in humiliating myself in front of all of my friends and family (I’m from the North East), I’ve also committed to running the 2014 London Marathon. THE LONDON MARATHON for Christ’s sake. It’s on TV!

So here I am, laid in bed not able to sleep for thinking about the marathon. There are numerous things that terrify me about the marathon, but if I had to choose my top five ‘keep me awake at night’ fears, the list would look like this:

  1. Wetting myself 
  2. Pooing myself
  3. Death
  4. Having an alcohol-free Christmas
  5. Coming last
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