Naomi T
Posted by

Revenge is a dish best served a year past the sell by date...

Naomi T
Posted by
07 Apr 2014

Last year you may have been aware of the A-Z Challenge and the Scrapheap Challenge on Pledgeit. I'm afraid those were my fault... Unfortunately Hywel and Owen are now seeking revenge with the Cheltenham Half Marathon!

Last year you may have been aware of the A-Z Challenge and the Scrapheap Challenge on Pledgeit. I'm afraid those were my fault... Unfortunately Hywel and Owen are now seeking revenge with the Cheltenham Half Marathon! 

I foolishly expressed a tentative interest in taking part in this monster whilst watching comfortably from the sidelines last year. In fact, it almost looked enjoyable as we saw happy faces crossing the finish line and being wrapped in space blankets (come on, how cool is that?) and being handed a rather fine medal. My throat was hoarse from picking out all of my friends that were running and chivvying them along to attempt a sprint finish for their grand finale through the trilite frame that signifies (in a race), that your two hours of misery have come to an end. 

Race days are funny things if you are the passive onlooker. A surreal scene starts to form itself around you, that wouldn't be out of place in a Discworld novel, or the book of Revelation in the Bible. People start to appear in 'competitive vests', depicting a cause, charity, apparent sponsorship by a large corporate (until it turns out that the shirt is a replica), or "DAVE IS A LEGEND", printed badly on a Primark neon T-shirt. Worse still, the self-made design has been fashioned from a T-shirt belonging to the opposite sex and a Sharpie pen. Curious exercises start up all around you. Toe-touching, ham-string stretching, a spot of spontaneous yoga to calm pre-race nerves and a little motivational chanting. There are stands all around you, boasting sports nutrition gels and shakes, massage, a sign-up facility for local running clubs and, inexplicably, dog sitting whilst you go on holiday. Perhaps this guy turned up at the wrong gig.  

I have never been a good runner. I used to be quite adept at sprinting, but never at long distance. I was the kid that dreaded the 1500m at school. I had no idea how to pace myself and so I didn't. Let's not even mention cross-country. The concept is all very well, except that my school was set amongst the idyllic Cotswold hills. It was hardly 'cross' - more 'up-country' and then'narrowly avoid being crushed by charging bulls' and 'rip your shins to shreds in brambles and nettles' and as a final push, 'slide back down mudwards'.

Encouraged by the half marathon last year, I took myself off on a little run around the relatively flat area in which I live. After one kilometre I was gasping for breath and couldn't quite work out if my legs were still attached. I gave up on the idea pretty much there and then. 

Then I got the dreaded email... "You have been challenged!" Oh no... This could only mean one thing. He had kept to his word! Hywel had threatened to enter me for the Cheltenham Half Marathon, to prove that I could learn to run. My insides were screaming potent reminders of the days of the school running track and the embarrassment of a race on sports day where I attempted the 200m after sitting cross-legged (as I was told to do) on the school field all afternoon. It was like watching a baby giraffe try to negotiate an obstacle course when it had just woken up! I must be seriously stubborn, because despite these pretty horrific visions and remaining in denial for about a week after receiving the email, I have agreed to take on the challenge. What on earth am I thinking?? 

Of course, running comes with certain advantages. There are a number of exciting gadgets one can purchase in order to assist with training and of course I had to partake of this offer. I quickly became the proud owner of an iPhone armband, the 'Strava' app (a form of social shame that reminds you how fit all your friends are and how fit you are not), some new trainer socks, a new sports bra to prevent sudden death or serious injury, a new running flask with a hole in it so you could hold it easily (which was subsequently disposed of after completely failing to dispense water) and a subscription to 'Runner's World'.

As I looked in the mirror at my running tights, bright neon pink jacket and various accessories, I couldn't help but feel that I was looking at a rather poorly-stuffed sausage. Hopefully this running lark would do its bit in the toning department. Lycra shouldn't really be allowed, should it? It is extraordinarily graphic and doesn't come with a warning label either for the purveyors of said garments, or for innocent onlookers. "WARNING. EVEN SUPERMAN HAS TO WEAR PANTS OVER THIS STUFF".

I am now up to 5.5km jogging without stopping. I have seen some beautiful fields, horses, pigs, human beings partaking of peculiar public activity (nothing ominous, but I did see somebody walking a ferret!), rain and sunshine. My knee now clicks every time I ascend the stairs, but all is going well. 

If after this outrageous barrage of information, you feel led to give me a little encouragement in the form of pledges, please look here:



We were tempted to stipulate "No pink running gear", but that'd make you unbearable to be with!

Seriously, I wouldn't ask you to do something at least one of us didn't know you can do. Be awesome - be unstoppable.

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