How to run a race

Begin preparations the day before by contracting lurgi and lying on the sofa wimpering. Eat cheese and chocolate and remain sedentary except for trips to the back door to smoke. Continue smoking even though you feel wretched because it’s the only joy you’ve left in life.

Be unreasonably angry with everything and everyone. Kick your expensive trainers around and swear at the packet of blister plasters on the dressing table. FUCKING INANIMATE OBJECTS. Take out your frustrations on well-wishing loved ones who DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR COMPLICATED EMOTIONS. Resign yourself to abject failure and be furious at yourself for irrelevant and unrelated reasons. Throw up your Lemsip and lie on the bathroom floor cursing the day you ever dared consider self-improvement.

Go to bed early, sleep fitfully and have anxiety dreams about your teeth falling out and being chased by medieval soldiers. Stare bleary-eyed at your clock waiting for the alarm to go off. Smash your clock into the wall and stare at the ceiling wondering whether it’s too late to throw yourself down the stairs. Join your running companions for breakfast and eat porridge – its grey, lacklustre aesthetic is the mirror of your soul. Go to the toilet 73 times and have ‘just one more fag’.

Walk down the street Reservoir Dogs style in your matching charity t-shirts and savour the moment because this is the coolest you will look all day. OUTTA THE WAY, MORTALS. WE’VE A RACE TO RUN. Sit on the Tube and be irritated by hungover party-goers returning home after nights out which were probably totally awesome and didn’t involve self-hatred and saltwater gargling. Continually sigh and make lame declarations like ‘So this is it, then?’ and ‘Hasn’t ten weeks gone quickly?’ and nod when everyone grunts in apathetic agreement. Stare at your reflection in the window and think about having a cry.

Congregate near the starting line. Do an undignified mass warm-up guided by a man wearing a bandana and mirrored sunglasses and hate the supporters taking photos of you with your ass sticking out in an ungainly fashion. Throw your possessions at your non-running friends. HERE. YOU CAN KEEP IT WHEN I DIE. Set the ground rules: don’t wait for me, save yourself.

Start running. Run and run and run and breathe through that unrelenting stitch and throbbing back pain. Keep running and run past other runners and keep running even when you feel the cuts on your feet tear open and keep running when your friends disappear into the crowd ahead of you.

Run past race marshals and don’t make awkward eye contact. Run past the woman with the hypnotisingly wobbly bottom. Run past children on scooters and excitable dogs. Run past the 1km mark. The 2km mark. 3km. Run even though your lungs are on fire and you’re spraying saliva everywhere. Audibly wail and swear and just keep running. See your friends waiting for you. Keep running. See the finish line. Just keep running. Finish the Goddamn race.

Retch loudly by a tree.

Take 543 post-race photos. Call everyone you know. Bounce around in a euphoric haze and high-five each other. Spend an astonishing amount of money on booze and junk food. Go home and watch films and gently complain about aching legs and sore feet. Laugh and swap stories. Sit contentedly among your best friends.

Be really pleased.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “How to run a race

  1. Well done ladies! Proud of you all 🙂

  2. Pingback: Five oddly-specific behaviours that I didn’t know GET MY GOAT |

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