I’m generally a cautious kind of person. I’ve written before about how much during crossfit beginners’ I was actually scared. And it occurs to be that I’m generally a fearful person, combining a lack of confidence in my physical ability with a sense of catastrophe. I’m sure being weighty doesn’t help either.
I’m the sort of person who never runs up or down stairs (you could trip and smash your teeth in), leans against the doors even on a crowded train (in case the weight pushes the doors open and you fall out of a moving train), stands too near the platform edge (in case someone else trips and pushes me over the edge or nudges my massive backpack and pushes me over. I don’t cross against the lights in case a car comes speeding along and knocks me over and I lose a limb. My office kitchen is a very narrow space, two floors up. Against one wall is the window, which currently is open as it is so hot. The window is quite low. So now, when I make a cup of tea, I worry about tripping on the carpet and falling headlong out the window. I have to therefore shimmy against the fridge as I’m so anxious about accidentally falling out the window.
Actually, I also have FOMO – the fear of missing out. I also have this weird thing of forgetting how scared I am of things between times, so for example, I am terrified of flying, but always think ‘oh no, it’ll be fine’ when I’m booking it, then during turbulence I’m crying my eyes out and saying my goodbyes (not joking).
So clearly, I am a bit of a scaredy-cat. This doesn’t make for a pioneering spirit. If it was up to me, we’d still be living in caves, just in case something horrible is over the hill. I generally don’t like doing things until I know I can do them. Which brings me neatly round to yesterday’s milestone – the Hackney Half Marathon.
When this topic was first broached, I said ‘I’d rather do burpees for 13 miles’. But my trouble is I can’t say no, because I like to prove that the fat old bird isn’t a fat old lazy bird. And, you know, FOMO. So I signed up 3 months ago and got training. 13.1miles/21k. I decided to run twice a week – one long one, one short faster one. I did 7k, 10k, 7 miles, 8 miles – all going well, on track to increase a mile per week until I got to 13 miles, then I could taper off. And I would go into the race knowing I’d done 13 miles. Somehow it didn’t work out like that. I got to 9.2 miles, then 10.1 a week and a half before the race. And it hurt, a lot. Then my knees started hurting. And a hip muscle. And it was hot. And I started panicking.
And on the day, I was literally sick with nerves. I didn’t know I could do it, everything hurt. I hadn’t tested energy gels. I felt dehydrated. I wanted to cry and not do it but because I was with 20 people I was to embarrassed to. So I did it. Slowly. Mile by miserable mile. I had a low moment at mile 7, because I saw the mile 6 marker, and kept going, no water at the water station, feeling pretty bad and thinking ‘I’m not even half way’, fighting the urge to walk (even though almost everyone going at my pace around me was walking, I was in the slow fat girl zone) and the suddenly the next marker I saw was 9 miles and I thought I might actually get this done. And then it was 10 miles and there was a group of gym buddies cheering. Then 11, then 12 and only one to go. And my in-laws at the 12.5 marker, then 13, then crowds all the way to the end cheering me on and shouting my name. I’ve never been more glad to stop moving. It was horrible and I never want to do it again.
So what did I learn? Not to do half marathons in June. That 2 sports bras are better than 1. Charge your phone properly. Lucozade is disgusting. I’m more of a tortoise than a hare. I hate running over 10k – but having proved I can, I don’t need to anymore, hurrah. Peer pressure is a powerful thing. You can tell your legs to shut up (with thanks to Jens Voight for that one). Hackney is a big place. I can run 13.1 miles. And I don’t ever ever have to do it again.