Sometimes all these challenges fill me with excitement...driving new places (often alone, all the solo navigation). And sometimes I think “why I am doing this???” This last week has been definitely much more of the latter. A funny week of highs (cuddle with Nigel Harman!) and lows (Joseph joining the ranks of the crutched), with the overall sense of too much-too much that comes with the end of term and the consumption of far too much wine at the end of term party in my own home....but just when I am tempted to say “NO MORE,” my friend Lucinda appears and begins handing out flyers entitled “Anne’s Fundraising Madness,” a summary of what I have done so far and what I intend to still do, complete with blurb about the charity, and I think “sometimes angels do take on human form.” What a lucky, lucky woman I am.
But let me slow down a moment and start again.....
Sunday morning. Sport Relief 10k. A bit funny to run someone else’s charity run as part of my own fundraising, but it being in Olympic Park makes it irresistible. I had hoped to bring the older 3 three along, but Lizzie has to be back at school for the post-Les Mis production take down and Joseph is limping too badly to walk let alone run. So it is just Stephen, my nine year old, and me. But a lovely companion to have.
Tube journey worrying in that not a single other traveler looks to be going to a race. Have I got the date wrong? Always a possibility with me. Even Stephen notices the lack of Sport Relief supporters....”well we can just go shopping at Westfield instead,” I tell him. He looks horrified. And then Hooray!!! two guys dressed a parrots get on. Never so grateful for the tradition of running in fancy dress. We are just early and for the earliest start time. Relax.
Given the popularity of Sport Relief, they have staggered the race start times, in hour intervals from 10:15 until late afternoon, and the official distances are 1, 3 and 6 miles. The sun is out but it is very cold and very windy. We gather nearish the Orbital. “Happy” and “Feel the Love” are alternatively played again and again and again (and it continues thus throughout the race) and then someone calls out “go,” and we are off. All of us. The very young dashing sideways, the much older walking slowly with backpacks (why?), the Dads with enormous pushchairs, the Mums insisting that the family walks hand in hand abreast, and some runners, for whom forward movement is grossly hindered by the before mentioned. This is not a race for time. The route doesn’t go through the stadium (another case of me not reading the details) but round and round and round the stadium....forever.
There are no distance markers, no clocks and the volunteers only wave those foam fingers and shout “come on” in a tone that suggests you are holding up a train. You run until you don’t want to run anymore and then head for the finish. For those unlucky enough to not have a watch it is an exercise of extreme frustration. “I have run this loop 5 bloody times, how far is that?” is a frequent cry. On the plus side, there is no one telling you to stop running. Stephen really pushes himself and manages a full 5 miles. I let him head off for his medal and finish the official, but meaningless 6. I could have stayed and run a marathon, though boredom would have probably killed me first. For future reference, the Sport Relief Race must be thought of as a morning out, rather than a race. But the medal was nice. And great to be back in the Park, if not the actual stadium.
Of course I am so so proud of Stephen. 5 miles is no small distance for a 9 year old who doesn’t get to run all that often. I think I will take him along to my next 10K because I think he can do it. And lovely to have the company.
So challenge #7 out of the way and the week takes over. I see a preview of the new hit musical I Can’t Sing starring adorable Nigel Harman and I snuggle right up to him at the post-show drinks. Long suffering husband, who is still sporting a knee brace and using crutches, takes a photo. I take Joseph to a physio because he has been limping and wincing in pain with every step for almost 3 weeks now. The physio is not very impressed with me. After a long consultation she tells me, in her disdainful French accent, “this is NOT growing pains. He has had an injury. Maybe from ONE YEAR ago. And now it is serious. Look he can’t EVEN walk.”
What is there to say? It wasn’t like his leg was hanging off at an angle. Or severed. I accept the chastisement with grace (actually, I try to blame it all on Craig, but she doesn’t buy it).
That night I have a phone conference with the charity. While useful and inspiring information, I am left feeling completely overwhelmed. Am I really going to pull this off? Next day is last day of term. Get everything organized and then emergency clean up of house for a party. And that is when Lucinda arrives with her flyers, encouraging all those present to donate to the library I am building in Mexico. I am so stunned I don’t even thank her properly. And I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed anymore. I have a lot of work to do, but with someone like her in my corner, I will get there. I really will. So far, I have run 61km (38 miles) and hiked 12 miles. (19km). And I have so many fun challenges coming up, including the “tougher” race across 33km of the Lake District with my wonderful friend Lucinda. Bring it on.