There were more Arc “signs” this morning. I ran the Southend 10K (I use the term ran loosely, although I can assure you I never broke into the gait known as a walk) and my number started with 6. Aside from the confirmation signs of what I already believed to be true, there were three strong signs Chelsea would prevail at Stamford Bridge, which I took to heart after the Black Cats stuck it to Man U yesterday.
I am not a very good runner but I stick to my guns and get home. I am not good at switching off during a race, I don’t train properly and I am no judge of pace. It is therefore necessary to talk myself round and out of various mindsets I get into over the course of an hour. On the homeward run my mind became a little querulous, so I came up with one of my mad mantras to avoid excessive focus on any incipient aches and pains. The mantra went
“Sea The Stars, (Supaseus), easy, easy, easy.”
Let me state quite clearly here and now, I am not actually mad. I do not pretend to be a horse galloping along the seafront! I just enjoyed the imagery and rhythm of the mantra and it stopped my mind from stopping my legs. Now I have the image of Sea The Stars actual run today at Longchamp burned in to my brain, hopefully for replay many times in my life.
We had to head back to London to collect the children after the run, anxious as I was to be somewhere and not on the road at 3.15. It was cut a bit fine in the end (thanks once again M25 junctions 28-27). To distract myself from getting too worked up about the race, I got exceedingly worked up about the scoreline in the Arsenal game (when it was 3-2) and said some rude things about their defence to the driver. Of course, I retract partially since they went on to score 3 more, but still there is always a price to be paid for expansive and beautiful football. I expect Viera will sort it all out on his return.
So racing past the Olympic village with my stomach lurching like I was on a roller coaster with nerves, we made it to a television in time. I couldn’t bear to watch a minute’s preamble and only went near enough the set to be considered a televisual participant once the runners were loaded. Prowling round in the hall, with my stomach on a rollercoaster whilst being tied in knots by an enthusiastic sailor I swore I would be contained…
I was contained when they broke and the pacemaker eventually shot off, I was still so when Sea The Stars started fighting for his head to go in pursuit. I was contained in my despair shortly afterwards whilst Sea The Stars had got buried deep for cover but agonisingly shuffled back to boot. Then he seemed to muscle his way into a debatable gap and my nose was nearly on the screen. Just before he shot out from the pack I was screaming.
As he emerged to hit the front, I grabbed the youngest (at 5 still a grabbable size) and commanded her to look at the “best we have ever seen”. Repeatedly and quite a lot loudly too. My family are used to this from time to time so no permanent psychological damage was done (I hope!). The seconds where Sea The Stars was clear in front and it was evident nothing was coming to him were some of the best seconds I have known in my life. Not because I had the house on him (I didn’t), but because he was bringing home an incomparable first in flat racing. He was delivering on a dream. It’s my belief, in that moment, he let us beggars ride with him.