Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Repressed memory of toe-curling humiliation for the day

A few years ago, encouraged by my GP to lose a bit of flab, I entered a charity 10K race. Having, in the distant past, worked for a major running magazine, I had access to training plans for events of all distances, and sedulously applied myself to the mix of speed days, endurance days and rest days prescribed by the experts.

It was deviating from the plan that brought about my abject humiliation. One day I was scheduled to go for a bit of endurance, which usually involved walk/jogging to a grassy expanse round the back of the Purley Way, almost under the shadow of the mighty IKEA chimneys. Once there, I would do two circuits of the common at medium pace, then jog back slowly to warm down.

Possessed by an excess of enthusiasm, I decided to do three circuits, and then run back at the same pace. I realised something was wrong as I was crossing a road halfway home, when I became afflicted with stitches on both sides. I made it to the pavement, and did the most dangerous thing possible - I stopped. It was only then that I realised I hadn't really been breathing for the last couple of minutes. I stood, gasping for air, feeling the veins in my head and neck throbbing as if they wanted to escape. My legs started shaking and hurting. I felt sick, but nothing wanted to come up. I bent over, just in case.

"I must look a bloody mess," I thought. Having occasionally caught sight of myself in the mirror during my rare excursions to the gym, I knew that excessive activity usually turned my face a vibrant shade of raspberry. Sweat splashed onto the pavement as I retched saliva and tried to acquire some oxygen from somewhere, anywhere. And then I heard the tapping sound.

I'd pulled up by the left-hand fork of a T-junction, and a minibus had stopped there, waiting for a gap in the traffic. With some difficulty I got myself into a vaguely upright position and turned to look at the vehicle, to see whether it was the source of the noise. And then I realised it wasn't just any old minibus.

It was the blue bus.

It was the blue bus that belonged to the school for children with learning difficulties.

The special school.

And they were in the blue bus, tapping on the window and pointing. And they were laughing hysterically. They were pointing and laughing. At me.


And as I stood there, damp, hot, bedraggled, aching, gasping, I felt that maybe this was some sort of karmic payback for all the times I'd thoughtlessly mocked someone with words like "spaz" or "mong" or "flid" or "joey". And I was suddenly thankful that my face had already gone red.

"Did you have a good run?" asked Small Boo when I got home. I told her what had happened, hoping for a little sympathy.

Three hours later, she'd almost stopped laughing.

13 comments:

llewtrah said...

Sounds like me when I resume cycling. Why, oh why did I resume by doing the 20 mile round trip I once did daily and last did 20 years ago?

tom said...

once in my youth, when i was a lonely long distance runner, i came across some children playing cowboys and indians and one of them was pretending to shoot me, so i played along, acting like he'd got me, and staggered past. the boy just stood there staring at me and finally said, "fuck you!"

dh said...

Is sedulously anything like diligently? Sorry to ask but I can't be bothered to look it up.

First Nations said...

came to congratulate you for something and now i'm cracking up too much to remember what!

oh yeah, the 'mingering mike' link.
i dug it the most!

but.....daaaaaaaaaang.
just....dang.

*leaning against wall vainly attempting to suppress laughter*

Tim Footman said...

Yes, Llewtrah. We should just lapse into flabby middle age, and enjoy it.

Could have been worse, Tom. He could have laughed. From his wheelchair.

DH. Probably. It just sounds good.

Now you know how we feel when we read your stuff, FN. Holofernes especially.

Billy said...

This is why I never go running.

Murph said...

Did you know my hero Andy Blackford?

Tim Footman said...

Stick to horizontal jogging, Billy.

Never actually met him, Murph, but I did used to call him several times a month at increasing levels of frant (is that a noun?) to ask where his copy was. Fortunately, when it did arrive, it never needed any work, and could be slotted into the available space with about 10 minutes to spare.

Do you know his ultimate claim to fame? He was the man behind the Um-Bongo song.

Murph said...

Yes, but they no longer drink it in the Congo I believe. And he owned Oscar, the World's fittest dog!
Mr P. made a brief appearance in the March 2000 issue and had to hurriedly root it out just in case it was you he had spoken to on the phone so he could sneak it in to your "telephone conversations with slightly famous people" feature. He stopped buying it after deciding that there is only so many things you can read about running.

rafael said...

A friend and I always discussed the possibility that our continued use, well into the age when we should have known better, of the expression 'uuulllllmmmnn' (curls tongue into lower lip and projects forward while grimacing) to indicate incompetence would one day come back to haunt us in some horrible karmic payback episode.

Now I'm afraid.

Tim Footman said...

Yes, Murph, after about 12 months the same old crap keeps coming up again. Winter training, that sort of thing. But people must have short memories, the repeat subs were very good.

I wouldn't worry, Rafael. The karma only kicks in if you accompany the noise and grimace with flailing arms and clawing hands.

Oh... you did? Bummer.

La Bête said...

~ belms at Footman ~

Excellent. But what was that photo that now won't show itself to me?

Tim Footman said...

A Banksy-style image of Mr J. Deacon himself, Bête. Not sure what happened there.