Musings on Marathons

imageMuch as I like a good old moan when warranted, this is a week for generally feeling pleased and remembering what a happy smiley place the world can be. And there nothing like someone else’s effort and a bit of sunshine to make you feel that way.

Spring has arrived and it is glorious. It has been such amazing weather here and just the way I like it, with a breeze and temperatures in the high teens and low 20s. Perfect for topping up the vitamin D, without having to smear the factor 30 all over my pale and sun-phobic skin. I’ve still managed to come up in a slight heat rash but that happens to me even on the most pathetic of sunny days. What can I tell ya?  I’m a total sun wimp.

So, that’s the mild sunshine fix sorted.  Next, to the effort of others.

On Sunday I spent the day minus kids and working at the Brighton Marathon on another beautifully bright and breezy day.  I work for a fantastic cancer charity and it is the perfect part-time job in so many ways. Not only can I fit it in around my family but having two days of work in my week keeps me sane – if not noticibly better off after all the childcare fees have been paid. And, working for a charity, I also finish the day feeling like I’ve worked hard to make the world a better place in a small way.

I was looking forward to Marathon day, not least because, after two weeks of school holidays, it meant escaping the moany kids and leaving them with the grumpy husband without the least bit of guilt, because work made me do it, Guv.

But more than that, I was looking forward to the buzz because I know of old that marathon days can be incredible. I’ve never worked one before and I’ve certainly never run one (definitely never on the cards, believe me) but, in a previous, kid-free life, I was a big fan of going along to cheer on the runners at the London Marathon.

If you have never been to watch a marathon, I highly recommend it. It is one of the most heartwarming experiences you will ever have. Seeing all those ordinary people doing something incredible, pounding the streets to raise as much money as they can for their chosen charity, is incredibly moving and restores your faith in human beings – who can be pretty disappointing most of the time, let’s face it. Calling out the names on the runner’s vests as they go by gives them a much-needed boost and can also be great fun. I’m not sure why but standing by a road with five mates, all with beers in hand, shouting out “Go on Nigel!” as loud as you can to some bloke you have never met before, can be hysterically funny.

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My marathon experience this time was mostly spent in the marquee at the end, looking after the tired runners as they finished their epic race. And I was there in my branded t-shirt and best beaming smile, being very official.

But supporting marathons was a very different game for me and my mates all those years ago.  We’d head to the last couple of miles of the London Marathon, cheer on the runners for about an hour and then follow that by about eight hours in the pub. My best mate and I once drank eight pints each after one London Marathon. And we were very proud of ourselves. Different times. I was less proud of falling arse-over-tit in the tunnels under Monument station but I was so drunk that I bounced rather nicely, if I remember correctly. Which I almost certainly don’t, given how much beer I had consumed.

I was rather sad when our annual London Marathon tradition fell by the wayside as we all grew up and became more responsible. But being down in Brighton last weekend has made me realise how great it would be to reinstate it when the kids are a bit older. I definitely wouldn’t take the family until Baby T is at least five or so.  They’d be bored and full of moans, plus I am not prepared to run the risk of one of my preschoolers being the one to trip up some poor runner on his last legs by pelting out in front of him.

Brighton Marathon has a very family feel to it though, much more than I seem to remember London having, although to be fair we ran a mile when we saw kids in those days (pretty much the only running we did) and we probably deliberately positioned ourselves in a particularly unchild-friendly zone.

But seeing people doing such an incredible thing to raise money is a good thing for kids to experience, I reckon.  Learning more about people who need our help and the incredible things others do for them is no bad thing. And seeing all the different charity branding supporting various causes might go some way towards explaining to my kids what the hell it is that Mummy actually does. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve tried to explain the concept of working for a charity to H and M.  They get it all mixed up with the charity bags we leave in the road and I think they assume I go around collecting old clothes for a living.

To be honest, they regularly forget I work at all.  Well, it can’t be nearly as important as what Daddy does, right?  Otherwise I’d get trains and sit in an office all day instead of at the table in the living room.

So, maybe one day we’ll make Marathon day into a family outing. Involving a good deal less than eight pints perhaps but still the odd beer in the sunshine and a lot of yelling out random names.  Sounds like a great family day out to me. Although the reality would probably be rather different: moaning about having tired feet, needing the loo when we are miles away from the nearest disgusting portaloo, using the branded inflatable bang-bang sticks as light-sabres.  Well, it is a nice idea on paper.  We’ll see if I can really face it in a few years time.

One added bonus of working at the marathon on Sunday is the beautiful, beautiful time off in lieu.  I’ve spent the majority of one of the hottest days of the year so far sitting in my garden, painting my toe nails and reading a newspaper*, without a kid in sight.  Oh, the decadence!

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* I also cleaned out all the bathroom cupboards and did three loads of washing.  I am clearly incapable of chilling out without guilt unless I also achieve domestic stuff first.  Idiot.

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