“Mr Churchill. You’re drunk!” “Yes, and you madam, are ugly – but tomorrow I shall be sober…”
“Slow and fat ones to the front. You have to go first. Slow and fat ones. Can you come up to the front now, please?”
If she’d called me “ugly” well then I’d have arked up, but there was no argument with slow and fat, so I took my position at the starting line and wondered if the 100 or so athletes behind me cared that I used to be a lean size 12 and fleet of foot with the grace of a gazelle. Didn't think so...
This running thing has been brewing for a couple of years, and when my 50th birthday came, I sat down for lunch with a few of my besties, a few ring-ins, and a feeling of doom.
The group looked up and smiled, slapped me on the back and poked lovely presents under my nose shouting “Happy birthday”. I burst into tears. The next day I went to running group. That was the day my husband got word about his new job overseas and the families impending three year move. Haven’t we done this already? I’m 50 you know! I am eligible to join Seniors in five years!
First night at running group, we walked around the oval a few times and went home. That didn’t seem so hard. By the third night we were doing little jogging bits, and I found it incredibly hard to (a) move my feet (b) breathe (c) come to terms with the reality of not having lifted a muscle since I gave up basketball in 2007 (d) stop crying because I was slow and fat and my legs hurt and I couldn’t breathe and I had to move overseas.
The extreme patience of Glenn M, and then Tony A meant they kept making me feel included in the group as they bounced back and forth like Playboy Eveready bunnies, looping the group around to pick up the stragglers. “We ran 3.8km tonight guys. Well done! Kathy, you would have done about 3.2.” I kept trotting along up the back. Aerobic fitness improved, but the old legs just wouldn’t seem to go any faster. So they still had to come back and collect me, but like a toddler who finds its voice, I was now able to talk all the way.
Undoubtedly, the best thing about running group is not the running, but that I can say, “I have to go to running,” and leave all domestic disasters to unfold at their leisure as I just WALK out the door!
So when the 5km half-way graduation fun-runny thing in Gisborne came around this morning, there was nothing for it. Out of bed, early breakfast, family into the car, off to Gisborne, Slow and Fat up the front and off we went.
As always, everybody except one person overtook me. This time they didn’t come back, but Sheena and I were comfortable shuffling along and having a chat. Then Sheena shuffled off! Not only did she leave me at the 3.5km mark, she passed the little group in front of us, and I never saw her again! I felt so ronery. Where is all my peeps?
As I got to the 4km mark, I saw my husband beaming and clapping. “Shut up. Can’t you see that I’m nearly dead and I need to concentrate, and where’s that bloody iPod shuffle nano clip on your shirt thing I asked you to buy me? How can I zone out when I’ve got no music?” Of course he couldn’t hear me because I was completely out of breath and didn’t want to waste my last wheeze on wingeing at him.
As the final 300m drew up, the trail went under a gorgeous canopy of English Plane trees. Glenn appeared, and Tony appeared, and all was well with the world.
Rounding the last bend, I straightened up for the bridge and Tony said “Come on. Sprint home like you always do,” and so, gathering my inner gazelle, I streaked home across the bridge and down the last 20 metres to the cheering crowd.
"Hooray, now we can get breakfast" they cried as I threw my arms in the air for a victorious finish.
The form guide will read :
No 50 Slowenfat Red and black from the Attard stable Late starter
Sluggish in training, often distracted. As yet unplaced. Bit wide around the girth, but performs well in front of a crowd. Long and odd.