Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Flashback 1997 - When I was a runner.

The pretext for posting these pics is to illustrate my short-lived hobby of 'serious' running.  - and besides, my late mum and my sister are the only ones who have ever seen them.
Both events were done when I'd turned 50 the previous year, the first showing me after completing the London Marathon (my one and only) and the other (with me in the centre) the 'Great North Run' on Tyneside - still the biggest annual half-marathon in the world, in terms of number of participants. I'd only been running for less than 5 years before 1997, but since then there's been a spectacular fall-off in capability. So far this year I haven't even managed to run a single half-mile without having to stop, hee-hawing loudly for breath. My doctor tells me, with a self-satisfied smirk on his face (which I'd dearly love to rub off somehow) - "Ah, don't forget that you're growing older!" Some comfort, as though I didn't know that myself. The troubling part is that the deterioration in performance was so rapid from about 1998 onwards. In that particular Great North Run I'd finished in 8,450th place, which, though sounding dire, was actually well in the top third, and which, even though I say it myself, isn't all that bad for someone of my age at that time who'd only been running for a very few years.
     Anyway, I'd be deluding myself if I thought that those days could ever return, but it really is a great disappointment. I haven't dared take part in an official event since about 7 years ago when I participated in a 10-miler, with maybe just a hundred runners, coming not only among the last 10, but actually beaten by a guy, doing the whole course pushing a woman in wheelchair! But he was very muscular - at least that's my version!
So I stopped myself attempting such follies again, just to avoid self- and public embarrassment. Besides, these days I doubt if I'd ever be able to complete the course, even at a slow jog. Oh well, it seems that my glory days are truly over.


  1. I've never participated a public run.

    Was it before or after Princess Diana's accident? I was in France in 1997 (July-August). I got home some days before the tragedy.

  2. You did the London Marathon? I'm extremely impressed. I can't imagine running for that long a time. When I was in my 30's I tried running for about a year but never really liked it. I did a few 10K's but found myself looking for any excuse not to participate.
    I think that you should be very proud of what you accomplished.

  3. Tai, the London Marathon takes place in May. The other run would have taken place in September, just a couple of weeks after that 'landmark' moment.
    Actually, the day of her funeral I'd been booked to go to a concert in London that very evening in the Royal Albert Hall, which is directly on what was the funeral procession route. When I got there on the outside of the hall there was still an enormous black cloth draped from the dome of the roof right down to the ground. There was also a change in the programme of the concert to reflect the solemnity of the day. It was broadcast live on TV here and I recorded it on video, which I still have.

  4. Thanks, Craig. I can hardly believe what I accomplished myself. But I think I ought to consider taking out a zimmer-frame on my (too irregular) morning runs now.
    But what used to get me through (but no longer seems to work) is the 'buzz' I got from the adrenaline rush, particularly after finishing running. And such public events have such a marvellous feeling of camaraderie too. Everyone is in the same boat and there's never any feelings of ill-will around. Really exhilarating!

  5. I am in awe. I have never even done a 5k run. Maybe there are 5k and 10k walks you could do for charity. There's still that adrenaline!

  6. pish posh!
    Why not give it another try?

  7. Mitch, don't underestimate yourself. You COULD run a marathon if you trained up for it, as I had to do. At least you've still got the years on your side.

    Dr Spo, do you really think that I want to enter an event where I'm likely to be beaten by someone dressed up as Bugs Bunny? - or, even worse, by a man in a rhino-suit? No thanks! Any future running will be done as an individual in the privacy of my own mind.

  8. Congratz on the marathon. That is a huge accomplishment. Well done!
    Maybe you can take up bicycle riding.

  9. All well in the past now, Cubby, but thanks anyway.
    As for riding a cycle, well, that's just a step TOO far. The next thing is you'll be suggesting I learn how to swim! Ha ha, you are a hoot!

  10. I think that was a major moment in our life, there is no way in the world I'd have been able to do it. Even less now with metal plate and screw in my right leg, so well done you.

    I'm with Cubby, time to get on a bicycle, ride along the coast with me one day. (it's all flat you know!)

  11. If 80-year-olds and invalids can do it, Jason, there's no reason why you couldn't - not that I'm suggesting you're either. As I say to Mitch above, if you're prepared to put in the training, running the distance is in the reach of nearly everyone.
    Actually what's almost as difficult now is getting a runner's place at all on it. The chances of participating as an individual has been virtually non-existent for some years, and the only real hope someone has is to run officially for a charity - but there you've got to guarantee a minimum sum of sponsorship monies you'll raise for them. If you don't get it from people sponsoring you you've got to make up the shortfall yourself, which can easily run into hundreds of pounds, even thousands. (There'll be a contract to sign beforehand.) So if you weren't already put off you surely will be now!