12 January 2009


Running club was a little hard-going tonight, even if a) it wasn't freezing outside and b) I didn't injure myself. For once, there was a big enough group of people running the seven-mile route for us to go off by ourselves, rather than going out with the four-milers. Usually, the ability is pretty mixed and I'm usually faster than most people (although it's hard to get a really accurate idea when you don't know which people are saving their energy for a second lap)--at least, I usually take off near the beginning and only rarely get overtaken.

Now that some of the post-Christmas n00bs are dropping off, some of the more hardcore people started to emerge. This week, I ended up running with another gir,l at the head of the seven-mile pack (well, it's not really a pack when the other eight people are scattered liberally around the Outer Circle) and at first, I thought we were about the same speed but I soon realised she was faster--or, at least, had better stamina (I later found out that she regularly does marathons and half-marathons). I was plugged into the iPod so I couldn't always hear when she was talking to me (but her sentences were infrequent enough to mean that I'd get bored if I just turned off the iPod). However, I soon came to realise that she either didn't know the way (I would have mocked this if I didn't find running round in a big circle--twice--incredibly disorientating) or just wanted to have someone around while running (obviously, my magicke karate skillz speak for themselves).

The problem was, though, that she she was so much faster than me that I could see herself trying to slow down when she was edging away from me. Now, competitive as I am, I find it hard to get competitive at the running club a) because I don't know who is doing which course and b) because I don't know which people are crazily fit and fast and whom I could thus never beat. I might be competitive but I'm not that stupid! I am British though and even though I hadn't taken any Ventolin and even though I think I have damaged some cartilage in my rib cage (again) and really didn't want to run any faster, out went my positive politeness strategies, desperate not to inconvenience the other runner, desperate to make her not have to slow down quite so much as she was (or something equally convoluted). I tried telling her that she didn't have to stay back if she wanted to run on (for my own benefit as much as hers!) but she didn't until we got off the Outer Circle and onto Marylebone Road when some of the running club staff materalised and sprinted back to the store with my fellow runner.

I slowed down slightly, longed for some water and my inhaler, and somehow decided that if Clive Owen were ever to do an interview at Broadcasting House, which I pass on the final strait, it was bound to be finishing at 7.30 one evening so that he could see me in my soggy, tired and otherwise dilapidated state. Luckily, it wasn't tonight. Back at the store, one of the (foreign) employees sez, "You don't look tired at all." I assumed she was being sarcastic (given that I was thoroughly knackered) and made some comment about being sleepier than normal but then she quickly explained that she was being serious. I caught a glance of my face in the mirror on the way out; I think she was confusing "pale and not red-faced" with "totally comfortable and as though I could go and run another seven miles." The latter was definitely not the case.

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