There was a real buzz in the air as we Run The One would-be athletes gathered in Victoria Park yesterday morning for the Celebration Mile. My son-in-Law (known to regular readers as Dunk’em Dave, on account of his
exploits on Family Beach Days) told me it was exactly the same kind of buzz, albeit on a more modest scale, as that experienced by the participants in major events like the London Marathon.
It was easy to spot those of us who would be running / jogging / walking The Mile, attired as we were in our yellow Independent Age running vests. It made us look almost like professional athletes. For my part I had also invested
£7 in a new pair of leggings from the sale rail in M & S (other department stores almost certainly also have sales - and sale rails - from time to time.) My new leggings boast what I believe are referred to as “go faster stripes.” I am
wondering if I should take this up under the Trades Description Act?
I had received plenty of encouragement even before I set off for Victoria Park, the venue
for the Celebration Mile. There was the video from Young Morgan (aka the Duracell Bunny - he, unlike me, never stops running) exhorting me to “Run, Nanna, Run!” while his cousin, Faris the Rascal, sent me a message all the way from the South of
France, in which he told me: “ See you next year - at the finish line!” He was put up to this, I must explain, by his father (“Rules is Rules”) who could be clearly heard in the background prompting The Rascal. There were flowers from
the Middle of the Darling Daughters along with a card drawn by Lilia (younger of the twins by one important minute) who has suddenly realised that she, too, can be an artist. I am the first actual person she has ever drawn, complete with arms, legs, eyes and
two somewhat startling nostrils, and I feel very honoured. Plus there were lots of messages of support from family and friends and - best of all - the actual presence of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and Dunk’em Dave to cheer me on.
But first, the warm-up, led by Cheery Chris our inspirational trainer. This was the part I had been worrying about, especially the exercise where we have to stand on one
leg with our arms in the air. On account of my Recovering Shoulder not being fully, well, recovered, only one of my arms can make it all the way up, the other hovering just above half mast. Consequently, balancing / wobbling on one leg I looked like like a
wonky scarecrow. I would usually comfort myself with the thought that nobody would be looking at me anyway - except that I could see Dunk’em Dave, with his long distance camera lens focussed on my efforts...
After the warm-up, we had a few minutes to recover before the start so my daughter helped me on with the CamelBak - it’s a kind of small hydration backpack complete with a plastic pipe through which the runner (that’ll
be me, then) can suck restorative water without the need to stop to unscrew water bottles. A fellow runner was interested to find out what this impressive piece of equipment was for: “Oh, I thought it was your oxygen,” she said. She has obviously
seen me in training...
We all lined up under the Independent Age inflatable arch, ready for photographs. Some people knelt down so that those behind them could
be in the picture but I didn’t think this was a good idea in case I couldn’t get up again so I positioned myself to one side where I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. Persuading us to gather at the start was a bit like watching the horses
at the start of the Grand National - but eventually we were all in place and the countdown began. Five, four, three, two, one...
You won’t be at all surprised
to hear that by the quarter mile mark I was already well behind most of the field - though thankfully I was in the excellent company of Sue who had only joined the Run The One community the previous week and had been thrown right into the deep end. We couldn’t
actually hear all the commentary being provided by Neil Pringle, from BBC Radio Sussex, but I was told afterwards that Sue and I earned the soubriquet of “The Gossipers”. I imagine listeners were really impressed to hear that we were able to talk
as well as trot...
Approaching the finish, Cheery Chris jogged up to tell us that she would join us in going over the finish line. We then picked up another struggling
straggler which meant that at the end there were four of us - the Fab Four, you might say - jogging to the finish, hands linked, arms in the air, amid rousing cheers, to receive our Run The One medals. As feelings of euphoria go, it will take some beating.
Granddaughter Hazel Bagel, out in Bali, told me later, via FaceTime, that she came over all teary watching the video of me jogging over the finishing line.
especially proud to be announced as the biggest fundraiser. “You must be very popular,” commented one of my running friends, on hearing of my £310 sponsorship. I am just lucky, I told her, to have so many generous family and friends. Thank
you, every single one of you who sponsored me - the accolade is yours!
One of my kind sponsors, Patsy, congratulated me afterwards, telling me what she tells her
own running buddy - that the speed doesn’t matter, it’s all about going the distance: “You’re lapping everyone on the couch and you’re only competing against yourself.”
I am so pleased and proud that yesterday morning every single one of our yellow-vested Run The One community - thanks to the sterling support and endless encouragement of Cheery Chris - managed to Go The Distance.