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More in I am not going to run a Marathon
Eighteen weeks to go
Training not started, and a bit of history.
Did I tell you that I am going to run a half marathon? Well, I am. Do you know how far that is? It's more than thirteen miles. That's how far. No wonder some people look at me as though I'm mad. Heck, I look at me as though I'm mad.
There are lots of good reasons I can't do this. For a start, I am five feet four inches tall and weigh 199 pounds. Now I have seen runners before and so have you. Sometimes I watch them as they trot up (or down) the hill outside out house. They have legs up to their armpits and are built like greyhounds. They are skinny and lean. They are tall and lithe. Me, I'm none of those things. Yesterday at work one of the midwives fondly patted my stomach and enquired when the baby was due. As I had not met her before and she didn't know me I am pretty sure she was serious. Truely, that is what happened. You get a sense of the size of the problem?
And those real runners - they run in all sorts of weather, most of which I try to avoid. Snow, rain, lashing storm, summer sun - they just keep going. I confess, I don't avoid sun, but I do avoid strenuous activity such as running combined with hot sun on account of not wanting to overheat, nor to provoke yet another hot flash. Sorry guys. I know some of you out there have assumed that I am male, or a young female. But the truth of it is that I'm a 'woman of a certain age' and both you and I may as well do the best we can to accept it.
OK. So I have reinforced your stereotype of the sort of person who goes running and the sort that doesn't. But there's another side to this story. I have run before.
When I was at secondary school in the sixth form we used to have to do PE on Friday afternoons. As we were considered 'young ladies' a group of us were allowed to go for a cross country run without a teacher. I bet you are thinking, "sensible teacher, avoiding all that running". But actually she was incredibly fit and played hockey for the England team. But I guess she had other things to do on a Friday afternoon. As I say, we went on cross country runs. This is how we did it.
We ran down to the far side of the playing fields, down to the woodland by the river (this was in the days when we thought flashers were a sort of hand held lighting) and five minutes along the river to the footpath which lead to the road on which my friend Janet lived. (Janet isn't her real name but I don't want to get her into any more trouble.) At Janet's we drank coffee and listened to records until it was time to return to school, take a shower, dress and go home.
Once I finished school I had done with running unless I needed to catch a bus. It was only after our two children started school that I tried running again. I didn't like it much. I made me red in the face and car drivers used to wave and shout things, but not in a nice way. After a few days I always ended up injuring myself by falling off the kerb, or stretching in bed. (Seriously - I did, and it put my neck out for weeks.) Then there was the knee injury that not only stopped any nonsence about running but swimming as well. It took about two years to recover from that one.
I took up running again by mistake about 5 years ago. A friend of mine was going through a bad patch. At one point it looked like she was going to need brain surgery which could potentially land her in a wheelchair if it went wrong. This was seriously scary stuff. One evening we were talking about things she wanted to do. The previous year she had taken part in a 5K run (about 3 miles) down in London in aid of one of the cancer charities. She had intended to enter this year too but she was uncertain of the wisdom of doing so. After all, she might be in no fit state to make the journey, let alone train to run three miles. So I said, "I tell you what. Let's both enter. And if you can't run it then I'll push your wheelchair so you can finish." At this point you are no doubt thinking what a nice person Pags is. Well, a couple of weeks later when she rang me up, I had forgotton all about it so it came as a bit of a shock when she said that she had entered us both.
To cut a long story short, she didn't need the operation, though she did need a chaperone in case she had problems from her various medical conditions. We both ran the race and we both finished it as well. I did very little training, but anyone who walks to the shops can walk a three mile course, so it's not as impressive as it might first have sounded.
Since then, I have taken part in another 5K and a cross country 10K. The cross country 10K was memorable for a number of reasons but notably for the fact that I both came last and did it in less time than any 10K since (90 minutes). I then took part in the 25th Great North Run, finishing in just under 4 hours. Yup. Real runners finish a full maraton in less time than that. I walked most of it. BUT I finished and lived to tell the tale, which is more than four other people did that year: it was very hot and as I mentioned above, I don't do hot!
Last year and this I 'ran' the Great Manchester run - a 10K race in which 35,000 people take part. In fact the Great Manchester Run was only last weekend, which is why I'm not doing any training this week and maybe not next either. It took me one hour and forty-three minutes. But I wasn't last, and felt well after it too.
So maybe I can run a half marathon. If I can get through the training. I need motivation. I need sponsors who refuse to pay unless I get across the finish line. Go on. Take a gamble. You know you want to. I probably won't manage to do this. You know it makes sense!
Just in case you need it, here's the link. www.justgiving.com/heatherandpete