Our eldest daughter had her first sports day at her new school yesterday. The school is very strong on parental involvement and ask us to attend school assemblies, parent socials and parent teacher meetings. My diary has been filled with school events since September and I couldn’t possibly have had time to hold down a full time job in the meantime (so lucky I don’t have one). There has been quite a build up to the cross country run and practising has been going on in earnest since the beginning of term. At the beginning of the week my daughter stated that she REALLY wanted a medal, and not a runner up certificate, but a medal. The only problem was that she said that when she runs there is only ever one person behind her. The memories of my own school sports have been flooding back all week. I asthmatically used to bring up the rear in cross country races and hated the pressure to perform in team games for fear of failing my team mates, which I invariably did. I can remember chants of ‘SHOOT, SHOOT’ when positioned as goal shooter in netball and knowing I would invariably miss the net and endlessly apologising through stilted games of tennis; ‘SORRY’. I remember going on one ‘away’ match with the ‘B’ team netballers, as reserve. The school must have been experiencing a debilitating flu virus or chickenpox outbreak, for me to have been selected that once. I seem to remember that I was OK at diving, as it didn’t involve getting out of breath.
So, with a strong resolve, and metal pictures of Lady Diana running on school sports day in a see through skirt, I packed my trainers in readiness for the parent staff race that rounds off the afternoon. For once, I’m not pregnant, or breastfeeding and am averagely fit having been going to the gym for the last six months or so, on a fairly regular basis. My husband was keen to compete too, having done a bit of long distance running in his time (albeit ten years ago), and was concerned that two parents racing might look a bit overly keen, especially as we were sporting matching blue tee shirts in support of our daughter’s assigned house colour. Undeterred I was going to face my demons and race come hell or high water. Our daughter ran valiantly in her race for what seemed like many miles and was even given a number 10 when she crossed the finish line red in the face and determined. I thought this was pretty good going as she is young for her year and looks a bit smaller than her piers, but her disappointment in not being eligible for a medal was palpable.
A definite dragging feeling started in the pit of my stomach as parents started preparing for their race. I was encouraged to hear that some staff members usually walk the course as competing was obligatory for them. My fellow parent and best friend said she might do some walking during the race due to her bad knee and I vaguely remember saying; ‘don’t worry I’ll wait for you’ when the starting horn sounded. Then I just started running and didn’t look back once. Over each step of the 900 meters I was thinking of the six year olds who had just managed this run and it still didn’t stop me from feeling like giving up and walking the whole time. Half way through the sound of my hoarse, open mouthed breathing in and out began to be deafening and embarrassing. How are you supposed to breathe while running? I heard a distant ‘come on Mummy!’ and kept going. On the home strait I felt like I might not manage it (I am an inveterate ‘giver upper’), but then I looked and saw there weren’t too many people in front of me and kept on. Over the last 100 meters, about three people shot past me at a sprint and I staggered over the finish line collecting number fourteen, but I was placed third among the women runners. On finishing, I felt like I had smoked twenty cigarettes in half an hour, running at altitude is not joke.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a bronze medal for being third among lady cross country runners (as hoped) but, reluctantly, I suppose the event was really about the school children not the parents. It would have been nice to give a medal to my daughter though.
p.s. I think Lady Diana must have definitely been doing a 100 meter sprint and not a cross country race.
p.p.s My big toe is still black since the race from my too small trainers