My PE teachers from school may faint when they read the next sentence. I LOVE the gym and exercise generally.
Sorry even I needed a minute to take that in. But it’s true though I do love it. Now you won’t catch me swimming in the sea, running in the rain or I dunno doing something like Tough Mudder, but moving, a lot, it makes me happy. This, however, was not always the case. Throughout secondary school I avoided it like the plague. Even now the words, beep test and aertex send chills down my spine and make me feel very, very nauseous. If I close my eyes tight enough I can catch a faint whiff of the gym, hear the sound of the gym mats being pulled out, cones set up, my sporty, bouncy, bubbly classmates raring to go. On your marks, set, beep… hold on my runners aren’t even tied up properly! What, wait, I’ve to do the test again?!
I am not sporty, or coordinated(although on a good day I will lie about this and tell myself and anyone who will listen I am), I’m pale skinned with red hair so the slightest bit of exercise leaves me with a complexion that would rival the angry face emoticon! So much so I get asked what’s wrong? God you should sit/lie down… here have some water. Do you need a doctor? I’d protest no no, it’s just my face, this happens when I exercise. No, no you’re wrong, I think we should call someone, this isn’t normal. It is, I assure you, I am tomato faced when working out. I’m used to it now. But as a subconscious lanky, fuzzy haired teenager you can see why I might have wanted to give any sporting activity a miss.
This changed in my twenties and as I was approaching the big three zero, I decided to set myself a challenge. Complete a marathon. An actual marathon that you run in, not a marathon chocolate eating session – although that would be nice! My friends scoffed, and I have to say so did I. I actually didn’t believe I’d do it, but figured I’d give it my best shot. Armed with the Non Runner’s Guide to Running a Marathon I started running. One foot in front of the other, and off I went. I was slow. Painfully slow, god I dreaded the long runs at the weekend, 30km on your own, plod, plod, plod, to the sounds of Rhianna and god knows what else. Plod, plod, plod and plonk home on the couch. I’m not moving ever again.
But I did it, in March 2011 I completed the Barcelona marathon, I ran parts, walked lots and took in the sounds and sights of parts of a city that don’t make the tourist map. Crossing the finish line and receiving my finishers medal was a feeling I will never forget. I’d done it, I competed against myself and I won. Obviously as I was ridiculously slow and ran/walked/chatted/complained my way around the course. But I had done it. Tick!
And then I lost mind. I thought here, anyone can do one marathon(who am I kidding I nearly killed myself doing it) why don’t I do another one and I signed up to do the New York Marathon with himself. In all honesty I think the prospect of running in one of my favourite cities in the world, just before my birthday provided me with all the inspiration I needed and out on the streets I went, plod, plod, plod.
It was awesome, one of the best days of my life. The energy from the crowds cheering you on was electric. Each borough provided you with something new to look at, from the rappers in Harlem, the roar of the crowd at the end of Fourth Avenue, the little kiddies who high fived you, and the silence at mile 11 as you ran through the Hasidic Jewish enclave of Williamsburg. Plod, plod, plod. Again I was slow, seriously slow. Some may not have even called it running. Had I not looked at my watch I would not have known the time, minutes felt like they went by in a flash, as I ran through the streets feeling like a super hero. I’m glad it took me as long as it did, my feet told a different story, but I got to saviour every moment.
My marathon days are on hold for now. I won’t say I’ve retired(can you retire after only two days in the sun?!) but I prefer my workouts to be short and sharp, feeling like a rock star but looking like a hot mess. More on that later.