I rolled over and sleepily reached for my iPhone, but grabbed hold of a banana instead. It’s a sign, I said to myself, and set about eating the banana. When I DID eventually locate my phone, it informed me of the time. It was Tuesday, 10th Jan 6:15am. Shit.
The plan was this:
- Creep about silently to avoid waking those in the house both under 7 yrs. and over 40 yrs. old;
- Locate some training gear (in the dark) and put it on (also in the dark);
- Drive to the gym, arriving at approx. 6:55am
[The gym opens at 7am. Max 5 mins allowed to walk from car to entrance, plus a further 3 mins to wait for shutters to lift, shuffle past early-bird pensioners, and get upstairs]
- Arrive on the treadmill for 7.03am;
- Execute speed set. This would be (ideally) 5 mins w/up, followed by 5 x 5 minutes @15kph (2 min rest in between)
- Dive off treadmill
- Race back home to:
- get those under 7 ready for school;
- allow those over 40 to go to work; and
- try to make myself look like I hadn’t done any of the above, so I could glide into the office without resembling a panting dog.
That was my plan. It sounded semi feasible, until 6.15am on Tuesday morning when it needed to be translated into reality. Shit, shit shit.
With the under 7s and over 40s undisturbed, I crept downstairs and quietly clicked the front door shut behind me. I was on schedule: it was 6:45am.
Once parked up on the dark, dark street down the dark, dark hill* (is it too obvious that I’m both a parent and a geek?) I made a run for it out of the dismal, dreary rain and into the offensively bright CMBC leisure centre standard lighting.
Hang on – there’s a bloody queue! A group of mainly (nocturnal?) older folk were gathered around the gym entrance waiting for the shutters to lift. How long have they been here? And what the hell else are they busy doing for the REST of the day?! I wondered, as I took my place on a plastic seat near the vending machine and began eyeing-up the bags of Quavers.
We all scanned and bar-coded our way in, and most of the OAP Fitness Bus headed off to the pool, whilst I ventured up the stairs in hot pursuit of my treadmill (I have one treadmill I prefer to use in the gym, and can suffer from minor palpitations and awkward ticks if it’s taken.)
Time check: 7:02. Jumper off, headphones on. PRESS ‘QUICK START’; begin warm up.
Time check: 7:07 GO, GO GO! INCREASE SPEED & RUN LIKE THE FUCKING CLAPPERS!
Time check: 7:12 Walk. Don’t die, just walk. It’ll be OK.
Time check: 7:14 GO, GO, GO! INCREASE SPEED & RUN LIKE THE FUCKING CLAPPERS AGAIN… But hang on. There’s an elderly chap from the OAP Fitness Bus standing & staring. HE’S FRICKIN PERVING AT ME WHILST I’M TRYING TO FOCUS ON MY SPEED SET! He walked over to the nearest treadmill and stood still. Watching me running like the fucking clappers on the treadmill. Off putting? Just a bit. He might have stood a chance if it were 1962.
Other than the ageing perv, this pattern continued right through until 7:40am when I cooled down for all of 20 seconds and dived into the disabled loos to put my dry kit back on.
I looked in the mirror. No. I haven’t just trained with my gear on inside out. Referring back to point (2) of my plan (locating training gear in the dark and putting it on in the dark) THIS was the result. Maybe Old Man Perv was reading the washing instructions on my shorts and NOT actually fancying a bit? I could have got him all wrong.
Heading out of the fluorescent CMBC leisure centre and back out into the dark, dark street, it was… still dark.
My wacky races drive back home up silly, spindly hill was frustrated by a White Van Man blocking the way. Move over! I’ve got a child to get dressed! I had uncomfortable visions of Gav still sleeping whilst Tilly wiped jam over the entire kitchen, having broken both the toaster and the kettle trying to make herself a cup of tea.
Time check: 8:02
Tilly was sitting in the kitchen happily tucking into a Pain Au Chocolat. (We’re not posh. It was a treat.) YEEAAAHHHH! I’VE DONE IT! PLAN WORKED! I gave myself a virtual fist-bump at arriving home on schedule, still having time to dress child and disguise the fact that I was melting.
‘Tills, let me have a look at that you’re eating,’ I said, suddenly concerned at the particularly anaemic-looking pastry. On closer inspection, it resembled a sodden panty liner from a Tena Lady advert.
‘Gav. This is raw. She’s eating raw (uncooked) pastry.’
‘Actually, it does taste a bit soggy, Mummy…’
My speed set was hard, but I nailed it. My plan wasn’t easy. It was a ball-ache, and depended on my eternally supportive Doddy to child-watch whilst I shoehorned myself out of the front door in the dark, with my Lycra washing instructions on clear view for the Fitness OAPs to see.
THIS is the reality of marathon training, whilst navigating the *other* demands of life. My speed set was done by 7:40am on Tuesday, 10th January. I was buzzing for the rest of the day. Partially because I’d kicked ass on that – my – treadmill, but mainly because I’d STILL managed to feed, dress, and sort out my child, wash away the sweaty salt marks from the sides of my scalp, and float into the office (on time) looking like I HADN’T DONE A THING. (I’d even straightened my hair. It’s a newfound girliness I’ve recently discovered.)
*For those wondering, reference to children’s book ‘Funnybones’ by the Ahlbergs.
** Also for info, I was in bed and fast asleep for 8.45pm that night. You can’t have it all.