Oh, the mortification of it all! A colleague-I dare not call him friend-is a keen photographer. I almost squawked out loud when I spied him at the start of last Sunday`s 10 km. There he was, adjusting his lens, and clicking away to his heart`s content. Luckily, being a bird,I`ve pretty good peripheral vision. So I managed to evade his attentions.
For a while.
I forgot all about him, in fact, once the race got underway. I was too flustered and busy with the task in hand: losing my position as the entire field raced ahead of me. And trying not to get too demoralized by it all.
In thus manner, I struggled on, through the heat, over the hills, past clusters of spectators, and on to the end of the race.
Now, the endline of this ten km run was particularly poorly positioned this year. First, there was the sharp rise up onto the main street. Then a sudden rounding of the corner to a dense crowd of onlookers. Then that was followed by a sudden realisation that the endline was actually two hundred metres further along the street than I`d expected.
Oh the shame of coming in slowly through that lot. And, overheated and underdressed, I was bound to look crap anyway heading for the endline.
And so I decided to throw my last vestige of dignity and vanity to the wind. I would go as fast as my little legs would take me. Certain in the knowledge that I looked ridiculous, I consoled myself that it least it would pass quickly. As quickly as I stepped over the endline.
I hadn`t reckoned on my photographer “friend”.
I was conscious of my body screaming as I made for the finish. That last extra push was purchased with grim determination. My whole face was contorted with the sheer effort of keeping my legs moving. My body lurched forward at an angle and my hair was plastered to my head with sweat. But I didn`t care. I`d probably had shaved an extra second of my time with that effort. It was worth it.
Then, from across the crowded endline, my eye locked on Colleague`s lens. As he moved the camera aside, my captor smiled in satisfaction: I`d been caught on camera.
It was my turn to watch him, come work, on Tuesday. No sign of any offending photographs. Instead, a knowing smirk and an enquiry as to how my race went. As if he didn`t know.
I remained on the alert yesterday, and I saw him clutching a white photography envelope as he made for the staff conference room. And my waiting colleagues.
Time to intervene.
I sidled up to him before he reached the door. I asked him straight out for the photograph. He was happy to oblige. I suspect he couldn`t wait to see my face when confronted with the facts. But I spared him the joy. Abandoning all semblance of manners, I snatched the photograph from his hand and scuttled off down the corridor, feathers tumbling in my wake.
Hours later, I finally got the courage to face the truth.
Oh my. The camera can be cruel. But I tried to take a detached view.That was fairly easy, as the woman I saw didn`t resemble the woman I believed was really me. In my dreams I am a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Paula Radcliffe.
The reality is somewhat different.
The woman I saw stumbling past the endline looked like death warmed up. Gait: slouched. Face:drained. Legs: short. And I won`t even go there with the running gear.
But I am consoled by the lessons in it all.
Not much I can do about the legs. They`re here to stay I hope and already, despite their diminished proportions, have taken me very far.
The gait on the other hand, needs work. My middle bit just isn`t strong enough. I am core exercise averse. And I also need to get back into swimming again.
Pale face figures with accompanying fatigue. I`ve been pretty bunched lately. For that, and a couple of other reasons, I`m going back on iron tablets.
So I`ve taken to calling that pic my Before Pic. It`s a marker of where I am in that starting line up towards where I want to be.
And there`s a big long line marking out the road to where I want to be. It leads to After Pic territory.
I must study form. I must watch my fellow F50ers and see what they`re doing differently. On Monday I spotted one in Tesco and my eye immediately fell on the contents of her trolley:could she be eating some superfoods to keep her speed up? But that level of form studying is ridicuous.
I must join a running group. Already I have made enquiries. I know the stuff about improving my core, I must do it. And upping my iron intake is also easily done.
That`s plan A.
Plan B involves disguise. Sports glasses look super cool. Well, on me at any rate. They serve the dual purpose of making me look more athletic and, along with a baseball cap, obscuring half my face.
The smile, wave and straighten up-SWSU to those of us in the know-is always a good routine to practice in the presence of a phlanx of papparazzi.
Combine both moves-cool,poised, smiling-with genuine form improvements and hell, maybe even a PB in my 10 km, and you`ve a whole different picture.
Yeah, Red Hen will run again. And she won`t be embarrassed next time.