A segmented week

How does that saying go? Ah yes, ‘If you want to give God a laugh, just tell him your plans.’ Well, I have been making the Good Man chuckle this week, for sure.

The plan – thank you for asking – was to taper towards the weekend and then head to London to run my sister’s memorial half marathon with Favourite Son (FS). Now even this plan has been long in the making with many a Boris slip between cup and lip, but I was not expecting my glass to be totally emptied on my behalf and put back on the shelf without some consultation – I am a woman who likes to take responsibility for emptying her own glass.

Originally the plan was to run the London Parks Half Marathon to raise money for Sue Ryder – the charity who took such amazing care of my sister in the weeks when when she was negotiating her change of postcode. That was the plan, thirty of us running in Sue Ryder vests and only the logistics of getting us all to the start line uninjured. Of course since then, the London event has been postponed and Boris has blown out different bubble sizes randomly. Even our naive fall-back plan to run as thirty ‘enthusiasts’ in Cheltenham had to change – along with those tables for six in a local drinking station to rehydrate at our newly defined finish line. Eventually we were reduced down to bubblets – dispersed around the country to run in our vests this weekend, with promises to share photos and fundraising. Best of all we even had a bubblet of Sis’s friends running in Italy, the country she adopted as her sanctuary. Lovely bubbly we thought.

Then, although I had banked my training (evidence in my previous blogs, readers), I start to come over a bit bubble and squeak (sorry) at the thought that Boris might lock London down and prevent Mama J from joining the London crew for a gentle run through Regent’s Park. I decide not to jinx it and refuse to talk about any running plans and just try and creep up on the weekend and take it – and Boris – unawares. I am secretly starting to believe that Dora the Explorer might make it to the Big Smoke to be reunited with FS and Favourite Daughter (FD).

Anyway, long run cut very short, on Thursday Boris showed me the red card and told me I needed to isolate. The reality of confinement and not going to London, kicks in. I throw my overnight bag (foolishly packed the night before when I ignored my own jinx rule) back in the wardrobe ; I am not proud of my childish strop.

I become more infantile still and – although I already know the answer – start Googling (other search engines are available) whether I can run a half marathon on my own if I am isolating. I promise to run well away from any sign of humanity but the computer emphatically says ‘NO!’ I rail against the rough justice of not owning a dog (which would at least give me an alibi if track and trace triangulate me and my imaginary friend to some remote field in Gloucestershire).

Indeed I waste a lot of energy railing against rough justice. I am not proud of this. When I have finished over-using the phrase, ‘rough justice’ I decide that it would be chop-logic to pay a fine that could contribute to our Sue Ryder fund-raising. FM just nods sagely when I share my thinking, responding, ‘I knew you would make the right decision’.

I have another vent, telling FM that he could have saved me a lot of time if he had just told me what the ‘right thing to do’ was earlier in the week. ‘But it wouldn’t have been your decision,’ he says, trying hard not to look too smuggy (yes, I know that’s not a word reader, but I am still enjoying my vent). ‘You were too busy Googling, looking for some smooth justice and asserting that it is, ‘better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission,’ to listen anyway. Now, did you finish that chocolate orange that I had tucked away from you in the fridge?’

Up to this point in my Covid journey, I feel I have come to know myself pretty well. I am oh too self aware of my short temper, magnetic attraction to comfort food and general fed-upitus. However, I must say that this Isolation malarkey is taking me to hidden depths.

Once I realise I can not partake in this memorial half marathon legally, I start to strop through my other options. They seem to boil down to the following:

  1. Don’t run but wear my Sue Ryder vest all day.
  2. Set myself another challenge

Neither of these options make me very happy for we know by now that I am a completer finisher and that I do not like other people making decisions for me. I continue to strop in a childish manner (ask Favourite Man). I take no satisfaction from the fact that I eventually decide to do the right thing and not step outside the front door to risk a fine. By now I am quite enjoying my strop and find it quite useful for venting some of that pent up irritability and fed-upitus ( comfort food has already been ticked in my self-pitying wallow).

Sometimes you just have to irrationally vent – which I do – totally ignoring the many, many people who have already isolated in a much more mature and selfless way and at much more inconvenience than mine. My sister always used to say that a half day pity party is acceptable but that anything longer is greedy. I may have crossed the line this time, but I reason that there is no other line for me to cross this weekend.

My friends and children gently start to rein me in. They suggest I go for Option 2 and find a different challenge, probably realising that I will be a total pain in the backside if I go for Option 1. Very Good Friend (VGF) blows open the field by suggesting I challenge myself to do something that doesn’t involve exercise.

‘What else did you and your sister really enjoy doing together?’
‘Eating chocolate oranges’
‘Sorted. Sit on the sofa while the other 29 runners are doing their stuff and console yourself with segmenting that time down into at least two hours of solid chocolate orange eating.’

The idea is tempting.

FS and FD go for a merge of options 1 and 2 by reminding me that Major Tom had a patio and that I have a yard (sorry FM, a courtyard). I can run my half marathon – albeit as a caged animal – by running shuttles. We shake on this plan and I set my alarm for early o’clock so that the neighbours won’t have the satisfaction/irritation of seeing my Sue Ryder vest flash/slowly jog past repetitively.

Well, I am happy (lying, perhaps ‘satisfied’) to report that I am now out the other side and had completed my challenge before breakfast. At this point, I post my photo on the group chat and sit back with a box of chocolate oranges to segment instead of shuttle my isolation away and watch the rest of the crew earn their vests.

Reflecting on the challenge I can share that:

  1. Shuttles are boring
  2. 2 hours of shuttling are for serious completer finishers only
  3. My shuttles were too short to register on my Tom Tom so in effect, I only clocked 4 miles. This makes this my slowest non-half marathon ever – a new Covid accomplishment and almost a conflation of option 1 and 2.
  4. I have worn a little path in the yard (courtyard) and I feel quite anxious while I wait for FM to discover this.
  5. There is some irony that I come to so much self awareness on World Mental Health Day.

So tomorrow’s challenge is to work out how I am going to segment down my next week of isolation. I can feel Sis smiling at the thought of me having to rely on other people and wondering who I can bribe to keep my stock of chocolate oranges supplied (a source of vitamin C and 5-a-day are the reasoning behind this food choice). Sis would also laugh to hear that VGF has been managing her wellbeing during her own enforced WFH by crocheting little hats for my chocolate oranges. She phones to ask me what colours I would like. I come off the call and think perhaps I could learn to crochet myself. Thinking about it, perhaps I can challenge myself to plan nothing at all.

I have thought about it. Nah, we need to keep the Good Man smiling.

PS ALL the other runners completed – with some great stories which would make my Sis laugh. Fundraising is nearly up to £50K (this would also make her very happy):

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