I like to claim that I never get ill, conveniently forgetting the three or so times a year that I get flu and then wig out completely, but my running since the fun-size Snickers has been utterly sabotaged by, if not being bedbound, then having symptoms that made running extremely unlikely. I went running on my birthday at the start of November, but since then my running has all but petered out, with me just going “Oh, I’m a bit tired now” and stopping where once I would just have carried on going, like Dory with feet.
In a fit of enthusiasm in October, I had signed up to do a few races with friends, and on Saturday I put on all my new winter kit (gloves! Tights! Hat! Thermal top! God I love birthdays and vouchers and my credit card) and wandered off to Herne Hill to meet Helen and Olly for the Mousdashe, an event which takes me about four run-ups to spell.
It’s a global 10k, and this one, in Brockwell Park, was raising money for mental health and prostate cancer, so all very good. It was also wonderfully organised, with smiling marshals and registrars and cheery people doling out water, and cake later. We got a t-shirt and a fake tache to wear while running, and, most importantly, there was a photobooth.
Despite my time off, I immediately felt better when I went into Intersport in Herne Hill to get some new earphones, and bumped into Helen, also clad entirely in lycra and sizing up a new running jacket. I bought my preposterous new earphones (“designed for a woman’s smaller ears” oh, spare me) and then we went and had a lovely time looking round Tales on Moon Lane, the wonderful children’s bookshop, and wishing we’d bothered to bring book-sized rucksacks instead of being so damned aerodynamic and leaving them at home.
But I digress. Helen had been running regularly, but I’d been out of practise for weeks, and Olly had been travelling a lot so all we were really aiming for was finishing the thing without passing out. We joked about this, but it soon turned out that would be quite the ask because OH MY GOD, the hills.
When I run round Brockwell Park, I go clockwise, so you have one fairly sharp hill, and then a nice long descent before going on the flat. The race went anti-clockwise. It was basically a giant prolonged hill. At one point, I was overtaken while making noises like a labrador crossed with a steam engine.
As I suspected, being in a race scenarios meant that the complete lack of gumption I’ve expressed on my recent runs without any sort of a training programme was replaced by determination to run the whole thing. And bar four steps on the last lap when I thought my heart might actually fall out of my face, or wherever else it had moved to, I did. I lost my moustache a few laps in, when it was sodden with water and sweat and goodness only knows what else, and it soon got too hot for my jacket, so I ended up running in my running t-shirt, Mousdashe t-shirt, gloves and hat, like some kind of horrifying mime clown.
Olly, who’d finished first again, found me wheezing on the finishing line and we were shortly joined by Helen at which point we just stood there and looked very sad. There was a group hug that was really just propping each other up. And then we had lovely sweets and cake provided by the
Moustache Mousdache Moustdash Mousdashe people and a bit of a sit down before limping off into what would turn out to be two days of extreme leg pain. “Never mind,” I said, while trying to stretch out my sobbing, broken legs. “Hill running is really good training so we’ll all be much faster next time. Or something.”
As a reminder that I have actually built up some stamina this year, it was good. I really was feeling quite despondent about not running. My marathon training starts, ooh, imminently and now I’m quite excited again. But also, still completely horrified that I’ve signed up to do it.
Sponsor me? Thanks, plug over.
Next up: Santa Run! This weekend, Helen, Olly, Corrie and I go running round Battersea Park in Father Christmas outfits like complete donks. Can’t wait.
New winter running gear!
If you’re also an extremely tall woman and therefore interested in what I’m wearing to run this festive season, it’s mostly lycra. A lot of lycra. I looked like a warped advert for Jane Fonda.
Nike running tights (£32)
I scoffed when the amazing Sweatshop woman brought these out in August (didn’t buy them then, obv, it was August), but they stretch to be superbly long. They’re really comfortable too, and have a pocket just above the bum which is useful.
Ron Hill bobble hat (£20)
My mother is eternally distressed by my love of bobble hats, but they make me very cheerful, and I have one of those heads which looks like a broken potato in a skull cap or similar. This is really warm, and comes with a fleece liner so it’s like a built-in sweatband. It kept my head really cosy on Saturday. You can spot my hat in this photo.
Nike thermal hoodie (£55)
This was a birthday present from Oldest Friend and is BRILLIANT. Its hood is slightly structured, so it’s like you have a cap. SUPERBLY long sleeves to boot. Love. It says web exclusive, but I swapped up a size in store.
Nike Elite Storm Gloves (£20)
God, everything’s bloody Nike, isn’t it. I got these in a men’s medium as I have long fingers. They’re comfy, have a little slot for your key, and have touch screen tips. I’ve tried a couple of pairs of touchscreen gloves, and these ones were really good on Saturday: swiping Runkeeper, or Zombies, Run was dead easy. They’re not immediately warm like wool, but once you’ve warmed up and are all delightfully sweaty, that proved to be a lifesaver.