Saturday, 20 March 2010
Sport Relief has been gripping Britain this last week, with some most unlikely characters forcing themselves to bizarre extremes in order to raise cash for good causes. As long as I install myself on the sofa with phone, credit card and TV remote, then it’s so much easier to feel a part of it all without having to move.
But couch-potato bliss is NOT ALLOWED. I’ll have to move....I just have to. With street-level snow finally vanishing, all sorts of lycra-clad sporty types are emerging into the almost-spring-like air. Every time I look out of the window, yet another athletic Norwegian is whizzing past at an admirable pace. Ice-free, grit-free pavements have been restored to their former glory, it’s not raining, there are fabulous paths all around which afford glorious coastal views, and so the moment has come. I’m going to HAVE to go running.
Let’s be quite clear about this.... I can’t stand running. I can’t imagine what kind of spoil-sport ever thought running was a good idea, but they must have been enormously persuasive. It is ‘a truth universally acknowledged’ that a person of my vintage 'has to do something', and running seems to fit into one’s day better than other forms of exercise. The cross-country skiing was doing the job splendidly, but the snow upped and left, so that was that.
I blame Norway entirely for putting me onto the uncomfortable horns of this running dilemma. Running is all the rage here. Before I came to Norway, it never occurred to me to go running, my former efforts being so pitiable they left me in the safe and secure knowledge that running was best left to the experts. I was the wrong shape, I didn’t have the right clothes, the shoes were too high-tech for a normal person to understand, and it was just horrible. And anyway, running is for skelfs. Skelfdom is not part of my natural being.
But Norway MADE me take up running. I was innocently minding my own business on a plane flying to the North, happily ensconced in a riveting and frantically useful magazine article about how to pitch a tent on snow in the Arctic in a Force 8 gale. Due to language difficulties, it was taking me longer to read than it would to pitch a tent in an Arctic blizzard, so I was oblivious to the irritating queries of my fellow travellers. I vaguely said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, ok then,’ by mistake, to shut up whoever was annoying me.
It was only later on that I discovered I’d agreed to be entered into a race...a running race....the 4.2K part of the Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon. It seemed the TA would be busy with the 10K so who was going to accompany the offspring in the 4.2 if I didn’t? As usual my plans for a relaxing, book-filled, gluttonous, lethargic Arctic Circle experience had been smashed to ice crystals. I was going to have to run in an actual event.
I know 4.2K is a pathetically miniscule distance to most people, and you are no doubt snorting lustily right now. Well, thanks for the sympathy. All I can say is, we ALL managed. And we ran, we didn’t walk. (I might go into details at a later date, 4.2K being a longer story than you might think.)
It’s an extraordinary thing, but after having a race thrust upon me, I mysteriously became hooked on something for which I was definitely not designed. Obviously it’s an appalling sight, so I only run in total privacy, and often in the pitch dark. Or in disguise. But those of us who are not natural runners now have a champion, a non-skelf super-hero in the form of comedian Eddie Izzard (who looks a wee bit Norsk, actually....maybe he had a Viking ancestor). Eddie’s astonishing achievement for Sport Relief must certainly rank as one of the maddest running plans ever. But he did it...he ran over 1000 miles, 43 consecutive marathons in 51 days.
So, I’ve decided, one day I might do The Balmoral. For now, I’m off for a jog along the coast. Don’t watch.
Posted by Returning Scot at 23:01