One of the things Fi (my wife) and I keep is an annual journal. Not a diary but a simple record of the books read, films seen, gigs, shows, exhibitions etc that we experience during the year. We also keep in the journal a list of “Things we did for the first time”. We started this list and then realised one year that we had done nothing for the first time. Nothing of note anyway. And so it was that bathed in the warm glow of a post-Christmas lunch and full of hope for 2011 – we signed up for a cross-country duathlon. Neither of us had done any cross-country since school (which,for me, is a lot longer than Fi ) and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Yesterday was the day – 13th February, freezing cold drizzle, 6 degrees, wet – what do you expect? Being X-Country virgins we decided to do the short race – 1 mile run -5 mile mountain bike – 1 mile run. Objective – finish at all costs. Time irrelevant. The event was held in Cirencester Park where the Royal princes sometimes have a jolly game of Polo before a quick one at The Queens Arms.
The atmosphere was a bubbling mix of business-like organisation, manic high spirits and “what the hell am I doing here?”. We jogged up and down at the start. The pros, the semi-pros, the Hen-Night t-shirt set. Rain spattered faces that wished they were back in bed with a slice of toast, coffee and the Sunday papers. I had done a little training for this including a self-imposed duathlon a couple of weeks back only sustaining my “sandwich related injury” but Fi, given the demands of her work recently (someone has to pay the bills) had done NONE.
We were going to run together but in the end Fi insisted I run my own race but I have to say I was a bit worried about her. (“Ah, but you ran anyway”, oh you cynics).
Cirencester Park is lovely and the course was through fields and woods. However, I haven’t played in as much mud since I was about 10. Muddy tracks, muddy fields, more muddy tracks. Four-and –a-half miles into my cycle I’m hurtling (hurtling ! hahahaha ) along a wooded track in front of the peloton (peloton ! hahahaha) when I hit the side of a log and wham! I’m off into the mud. I slid into about 8 inches of mud – it was a bit like falling into bed it was so soft.
But my chain was off and jammed so I had to push the bike the last half mile including 200 yards of the steepest incline where everyone got off and pushed in a long dirty ssschlopping trudge. The last mile run was hard after cycling through mud for 4 and half miles and a bit but I did it and finished. Fi may not have trained at all but the one thing you can count on with Fi is her determination and sure enough she skipped in (skipped in ! hahahaha) about 20 minutes later.
So we finished. We had fun though it hurt at times. No longer X-country virgins. Something for the “done for the first time” list. And it’s only February ! Aching, oh boy, aching. But pretty pleased with ourselves.