I watched a boy leaning on a tree vomiting this lunchtime. I was out for ‘a run’ with the dog. The truth is I’ve not ‘run’ anywhere for eighteen months, although in order to avoid being one of the hordes of New Year Resolutionists I had a tentative trot out a couple of times last week just to check everything sort of worked. (The jury is out on that one.)
Anyway, at first I thought the boy was older than he was, probably in the grip of a hangover. As I got closer I saw he was no more than twelve, maybe younger. He had got out of a silver car, parked on the wrong side of the road. A man, probably his father, was in the driver’s seat, his elbow sticking out of the fully open car window, the engine running. Car sickness probably. Football fans perhaps – the Shrimpers were having an early kick-off.
That, I thought to myself as I passed the poor kid, is the difference between a father and a mother. The mother would be out with the kid, by the tree, as useless as the father still sitting in the car, engine running, but she would be there. Then I carried on and thought I might die myself in the far muddy corner of the park as my lungs threatened to explode. My life is not glamorous, my trainers are covered in an inch of mud at all times and when I ‘run’ I can’t always breathe. Still, I hope I would get out of the car if my child was throwing up by a tree. It would make no difference of course, but one can’t, always. I am reminded of the quote from Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde which said, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ The gutter doesn’t change but the stars do. At the moment my stars are a bit hazy, like this one.
My heart has been broken on a racecourse, more than once in fact, and after a while I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I took a break from the turf. I’ve only kept an eye on proceedings because of the wonder horse Frankel who I saw hack up at the Dewhurst nearly two years ago now. Frankel moves the heart and soul like very few other horses do, but I confess there have been a few . I won’t name them now. Those who know me might remember some of them. Probably they won’t. It doesn’t matter – no need to make the heart hurt more than it needs to on a sunny October morning.
All that’s a rather long way of saying, today, I logged into one of my long idle gambling acounts. One has been run down to a balance of zero thanks to ‘inactive adminstrative fees’. Because it costs you money to be my bank Mr Ladbroke? Another remains intact with a sum in the magnificence of eleven pence. Still, Paddy Power has at least left the paltry amount in my name, rather than helping himself to it in disgust at my giving up the gambling life.
It turns out I am not ready to place a bet. I think I will close the accounts. I have others elsewhere, but I can’t remember who with, or indeed the log-ins. I have a vague idea that there is some money in one of them, somewhere. I was thinking I might have a bet on Meandre today, but the ground has gone in Longchamp and it will not be coming back in time for this afternoon’s race. Even worse, I find I do not care who wins the Arc. What is wrong with me? It only seems like yesterday I ran the Southend 10K on Arc Day morning and then watched when Sea the Stars confirmed his place in the glittering firmament later that afternoon. It seems like yesterday, but in truth it is three whole years ago. The further truth is that I don’t run any more and I don’t go racing.
Where has the time gone?
Where are all the horses that used to live in my head?
‘Oh yes, he’s fit enough.’
‘Is he doing it properly? He’s not is he?’
‘Oh yes, well… he’s just relaxed.’
‘He needs a straight back?’
‘Well, mmmm. Michael Johnson ran with a straight back and he did alright.’
I think, Michael Johnson ran like a duck but when you break world records it doesn’t matter what you look like.
‘Oh no, he’s not fit enough.’
‘No, he’s not fit enough at all.’
‘It’s good though, this physical exercise. Too much studiousness is bad for the boy.’
‘Is he doing it properly? She’s doing it properly isn’t she?’
‘He needs to watch what the others are doing.’
‘Look he’s not watching.’
The studious boy, who looks like he is running into a wind tunnel, comes over to the edge of the track and weeps.
An elite athlete sticks his head through the fence and throws up.
The man, who was once hit by a train, completes his lap.
Right, wrong, none of it is ever easy.
Not ten grand (I wish). I am talking about 6.25 miles. I tackled the distance for the first time in over a year yesterday. Quietly, on my own, without a timing device tied to my shoelace. I was making a comeback you see and I didn’t want any hoo-haa. Let’s just say I’ll come on for the run. The achievement was that the distance was covered in a fashion, without walking.
If I pull out sound tomorrow, I’ll be in business for an official timed run next weekend in London, but at this point I’ll just be grateful when my joints stop aching. Running on tarmac is not my favourite thing.
The benefit of running along the sea-front is that I know my distances and there is plenty to distract a beetroot-faced plodalong like me. Normally I have the dog, but he is turning into a stop-starting device off-lead and on the lead he and I just look like an odd couple.
A much better matched pair are these superheroes who I passed on my sprint finish to the parking meter so I could check my time.
After all, The Only Way is Essex.
Even on 40 year old knees…
I have a few posts I have been meaning to do:
Blind Sex Pest Goldfish Seeks New Chaste Home
No Cardigans with Maxi Dresses SamCam
“Progressivity” ain’t a word George (Gideon) Osborne
Exactly Wot is this “Recycled” Money of which you speak Health Man?
Premier League Football starts: the World’s mouth gapes
But today I will share instead how I came to be dressing my wounds in Betfred’s shop circa 19.43 yesterday evening, whilst Elhamri broke out of the stalls and galloped down the course, delaying the start of the 19.45 at Windsor (which is a ridiculous figure of eight course) wherein I had backed Imaginary Diva (on good advice) who eventually placed third (8/1 e/w = a minor contribution to dinner).
See the thing is, I can see how I might improve my aesthetics to comply with diva criteria, but mostly I can’t quite pull it all together. Take yesterday. I was enjoying wearing a dress, for once. Normally skirts and wotnot are a bit tricky because I am always getting into scrapes: bashing myself with my wicked sharp metal bike pedals leaving bruises and cuts on my shins, getting scratched by the dog on his regular leg tangles when a cat is in sight and bashing myself on assorted fixtures and fittings. There are probably about ten days a year when my legs are fit for public consumption. Anyway yesterday was one such. I had on a nice French black linen shift dress and had added a Minnie Mouse red and white spotted silk necktie. My footwear was not flip-flops! I had received compliments and I was looking forward to popping it back on and going out for supper after my run. let’s also gloss over the bare facts that although my legs were on good form, my arms looked like I had been self-harming (iron burn and drinking blister), but you can never have it all you know.
At about 18.15 I popped out for a quick run with the dog and my friend (leaving starving Guv’nor on the sofa urging speed which was fine because I am trying to effect a faster pace anyway). I suppose the rest doesn’t take much figuring out and my dignity would probably preclude a detailed account of painfully going down (like a sack of shit). Suffice to say the material ingredients of my downfall included running with the dog on the lead, a dodgy drain and uneven concrete. Not paying full attention was certainly a factor. Going for a run is meant to induce a meditative scenario and I was anything but. I was still in my head and not in my body so my body took a big fall to remind me of my failings.
Notwithstanding the humiliation, I did not cry and we did a bit more limping/running but once home I had to jump in the shower where much stinging commenced. We have at home child knee-sized plasters but I needed one the size of a saucer so I had to go to the shop and get the necessary (plus antiseptic anaesthetic cream) which I liberally applied in the bookmakers. I thought that would be a bit more health and safety than in the restaurant (where an even more starving Guv’nor was now waiting) and would be killing two birds with one stone which is always a good thing isn’t it?
This morning, in addition to the arm injuries, I now have one well smashed up knee, a scraped one and a slightly unhappy, but much recovered pair of palms. Ho hum. That’s blown dresses until 2011.
Last year on the morning of Sea the Stars famous Arc victory I ran the Southend 10K as a sort of wind down to the physical challenge of cycling to Paris. This year I had lots of challenges in mind, none of which came off partly due to being really busy, but mainly because I couldn’t breathe properly in February and March and lost a lot of fitness over those months. I am still struggling to regain it frankly, but I have decided this Arc Day I will run the 10K again and I am going to try to go a bit quicker. I might have bitten off more than I can chew. Never the world’s fastest runner (contain your surprise), I have only 8 weeks to train myself to run a little bit quicker than 6 and quarter 10 minute miles. I don’t know if I can do it, but I am going to give it a wee go. I seemed to have a bit left in reserve at the end of last year’s event and my preparation the night before involved a curry, cake and a good bit of wine, so perhaps if I cut that out I will knock off a second or two with ease…
You can’t lie on these things either as you have an electronic device attached to your shoe, I reckon I added a good minute to my time last year fiddling around trying to detach the damn thing and chuck it in the great yellow bucket of time. Time will tell you know.
My dog is multi-skilled but his great talent lies in running, bear fast (as the kids say), usually in an anti-clockwise oval shape at about 20 m.p.h. until he’s knackered – which doesn’t take very long.
The last time I ran a 10K I trained with my old dog (“the one true pet” as I like to call him now he is no longer alive to remind me constantly of all his troublesome ways) Senna. Training with him kept me honest, it gives you the distraction I so badly need and he could lickety-split along with me until I collapsed, and then go again in his youth. None of this comatose business on the sofa we get from mark 3. (Mark 2 is marvellous veteran of a collie cross persuasion and he was a great running companion too but he didn’t like the kids – he now lives the life of a stockbroking dog with my one true friend).
Anyway, I can clearly track my stopping running to when Senna’s heart started to give out and we couldn’t run too far any more. I didn’t like going out without him frankly, it was boring, somewhat disloyal and reminded me that we didn’t have him forever. We had him for 12 and a half years (which was good for a dog of his size) and he has been gone for two now. Rudi has not stepped into his paws in many ways – and rightly so – he is his own dog. Just lately though the blonde one has appeared a little more sensible, a little more mindful of the bond between dog and mistress, a little more like the one true pet.
So, after a few disastrous attempts some while ago, I am planning today to give him another whirl in the runningwhilstonaleadattachedtoyourowner department. Previous attempts have resembled me being attached to a dog in a giant catapult, hazardous and impossible to establish any cadence. The reason for the renewed effort is that today I have to step up in trip – 4 miles in fact – and that will be both hard and boring and bringing along a flighty sort will be a livener. Either that or I will trip over him and we will both look a pair of plonkers.
Sport, that thing I usually find most diverting and uplifting in life (well one of the things) just seems deeply disappointing to me at the moment. Is it just me? Am I viewing everything through the prism labelled “back to school”? It seems I cannot go a day without hearing some new depressing corruption or malign behaviour in so many sports. This is the evidence that suggests I am not entirely made of Eeyorish tendencies in this respect:-
# Harlequins has turned into a club for mutants
# Chelsea are still Chelsea but they have been exposed
# Millwall have reverted to their mad, bad ways
# Renault stands accused of ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in Singapore to benefit the boy prince Alonso
# Caster Semenya’s gender trial has been conducted in the most cruel Roman way
# Arsenal are already driving me to distraction
# Man City are accused of tapping up too (whatever that is (I know, but it’s an odd term)).
# We have to endure another season of Sir Alex’s posturing
# As above except it’s Rafa’s bleating about the above
# Less than 24 hours after Usain Bolt’s historic 200m victory the pundits were saying he would make the sport “boring”
# We have diving, butting, stamping, shirt-pulling, elbows and teeth and great quantities of Colombia’s national crop going up hooters
# In fact, the only thing I can see that one might be uplifted by, is Andy Murray’s rampant tennis progress, but even as a half Scot, I cannot get at all excited by his dismal countenance (and after I drafted this he got beat in the US Open)
Oh and what I would look forward to, The Arc, I can’t because we don’t know what the great Sea the Stars is doing that day and if he runs I will be too anxious about him suffering a defeat to enjoy a thing. I am so hoping he will be washing his mane on October the 4th, but I know A GREAT cannot shirk the big question for the sake of vanity.
So I have looked outside the box for a sporting hero to admire and I have found one – our youngest daughter’s lovely Godmother who went in for an exciting event last weekend. Known as CaniX, http://www.cani-cross.co.uk/qanda.htm this is cross-country running for woman or man and beast. Last Saturday she powered round Exeter racecourse tied to the lab formerly known as Tramp. I don’t know what they are calling him after this amazing feat but I proffer “Super Tramp”.
As they were at Exeter racecourse my race report reads (this garnered entirely from an eye-witness account and stills):-
“Punters never had a moment’s doubt as the Lady skipped clear at the furlong pole (notwithstanding the Tramp who we suspect of not putting it all in at times…) and passed the post in glorious isolation to the roar of the crowd.” Ok, I made the last bit up, but they do it for me 🙂
Day one of Glorious Goodwood and my head is still full of cycling thoughts cycling… I’ve read the Balding yard think a lot SWINDLER in the Gordon Stakes at 2.45 today and I was shocked to read that Masterofthehorse is with Miss D Mountain now. No disrespect to her, but not where I thought he would be come the summer season. I must have been on another planet for that piece of info to pass me by and that is rather how it feels. As if I am halfway between the biggest organic chemical comedown I’ve ever experienced, courtesy of the bike, and my own life.
Seems I have some reinterpretation of daily routine to organise. I’ll have to take the dog for a run and think about it.