When I was little (and even when I was not so little) the one phrase I remember my dad consistently quoting was “there’s no such thing as can’t”. Learning to ride your bike, fallen off 20 times and have no space left for more grazes – think you want to give up? You’ve got no chance! Spent 3 hours trying desperately to fasten your shoe laces and have lost the will to live? Suck it up! This is literally the attitude I was brought up with and I’m so glad because as the cross country season continues, it turns out I’ll need my under-developed, know when to give up gene!
Today, in a field in Skelmersdale, a group of humanoids have gathered. The sky is deceptively blue but it’s November so it’s sodding cold! Against my better judgement I’ve allowed myself to be convinced this is a smart move. Another one of my spectacularly ridiculous ideas.
When I say humanoids I’d better just clarify, they think they are normal humans, they look like normal humans, but when you see them pace round this course you realise they are super humans!
I may be repeating myself BUT… Amanda – our wonderful run leader/C25K coach waxes lyrical about the benefits and joys of cross country, “it will make you a stronger, faster, better runner” she insists. Usually I convince myself she’s talking tosh but of course I’m usually proven wrong. Two weeks ago I “ran” at Clarke Gardens – 4.5 miles of hell but I did it, finishing in last place and really quite proud to have finished. The following weekend I busted out a 5k pb that has been eluding me for months, this weekend I managed to improve it further and I mean we are talking 3 minutes knocked off in two weeks!
I need little time to reflect, so here are today’s thoughts (published late because I fell fast asleep on the sofa shortly after returning home from this ordeal!
There are no words to describe this cross country course. The closest I can get is to describe how I felt… Kind of like Bambi on ice, with huge lead weights attached to my ankles, on a steep slope. I’m sure that’s not quite it, the mud seems to have pva glue mixed in and the hills, what the ##@@!! did I do to deserve this challenge? So shrieking, shouting, swearing, sliding, slipping, slopping in mud I faced my fear and gritted my teeth for the challenge of my running career so far!
We were blessed with a tail runner, I’m so sorry I don’t know her name but she was AWESOME! How she remained so positive stuck trudging round with me, never short of words of encouragement I will never know! When I fell she laughed with me and when I swore she pretended not to notice, boy did she keep me from losing my mind!
The support, now this is again where even I (and I’m a proper cold fish) get teary! It took a surprisingly long time for the super humans to start coming through to lap me (how the ##@@!! do they do it?) but when they did, they really boosted me (again) kind words, pats on the back, even hugs!!! They don’t know discrimination, they don’t see colour or size or gender (I’m talking even club shirts btw) they just support, encourage, motivate and inspire.
Then there come my heroes, this week Helen and Beata. Our club (Northwich Running Club) never fails to blow me away, they always wait for every runner to cross the line but some just HAVE to go the extra mile! Helen and Beata on finishing the race (two laps of muscle draining hell) then went on a crazy mission to find me! As I’m losing the will to move and frankly just want to have a lie down, round the corner they pop cheering me on with their infectious energy. How can you give up when you’ve got people rooting for you? Giving MY tail runner a well deserved rest they kept my spirits high and escorted me through the mud, laughed with me and kept me distracted from the misery of my legs. I can’t find words to describe how much they helped me yesterday. Ladies, you were remarkable, I hope some day I can pay it forward xoxo
But it doesn’t end there… With maybe a mile to go, the remainder of my convoy arrives! Forgive me if I’ve missed anyone but to be honest I wasn’t entirely aware of everything that was happening by this point. Ian, Stuart and Janos are here to lift my spirits and outright lie about how far to go! The efforts these bonkers blokes will go to, to stop me giving up, is mental.
The course ends with a massive (enter profanity of choice) hill, like you really need that when you’ve had your body drained of all ability to move! Usually our guys wait at the finish line but today this crazy wonderful lot have trudged down the hill and are waiting like a guard of honour at the bottom because they are not letting me go it alone, not leaving Beata, Helen, the tail runner and convoy to keep me going, they are united, and I’m pretty sure they’d have carried me up that hill if they’d had to, although they might have needed an ambulance themselves!
It’s all a bit of a blur, I can’t even say it hurt, I was numb, I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh but there was nothing left to propel me except the will of NRC. I looked up the hill and knew I had nothing left but since there’s no such thing as can’t I was in a bit of a bind.
One foot in front of the other through a haze of words and cheers, I’m breathing, I’m just about clinging on for dear life and I refuse to get this close to the finish and not get there under my own steam. I’m mortified at my hopelessness but proud of my determination, you have to feel for someone in such a conflicted situation really, I mean what is a girl to do? Eyes closed, willing my feet to keep moving, my legs are shaking so one thing for it…
I AM crossing that finish line come hell or high water
I am NOT being defeated by a bit of mud and a hill! I am not letting the team down. I am NOT going to make the marshals who’ve stood their ground a waste of time. I am not going home a loser. I am going home a winner because I finish what I start. I am going home a winner because if I have to a will crawl over that finish line. I have no dignity left, I don’t even care.
But I’ll tell you this Skelmersdale, next year, when this lardy lady has rid herself of her
excess, she’ll be back for revenge! And she’ll do her damnedest to pay forward every bit of support that she received today.
After all that, all you need is a bucket, an old towel, a gallon of steaming warm water and a cup of tea and the world will be a happy place once more.
Folks I love you all, I can’t put into words how blessed I feel to be part of this family. You’re all crazy, amazing, wonderful wonderful creatures!
Thank you so much, every flipping one of you xoxo