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I swear there was a time, maybe ten or 15 years ago, where doing any kind of exercise, never mind a big challenge was kind of frowned upon. It seems like it used to be that instead of counting the miles you ran, the number of pints you drank was your badge of honour.
I’m not sure where the change came from – these days it seems everyone is at the gym or racing a 5k or half marathon – but I suspect it came over from the States. While the Midwest may still have its fair share of dumplings, New York and LA have always been terribly body conscious. And over the past few years, people have taken it one further by raising cash for charity at the same time.
Whatever the reason, Greece, where I was brought up and where my mum still lives, is still pretty much behind the UK when it comes to this kind of thing. Sure people go to the gym and they don’t drink loads but you hardly ever see anyone out just pounding the streets simply because they enjoy running. And no one does extreme events for charity.
I was telling George, my Greek brother-in-law about the Portsmouth Half Marathon the other day and how some runners had mates located around the race who would pass them a bottle of water or a banana. He said: ‘In Greece, your mates would be passing you a cup of espresso and a fag’ – and he was only half joking.
So trying to explain to my mum what I’ve been doing for the last six months has all been a bit of challenge. She’s 75 bless her and not lived in England for more than 35 years so the idea of running for fun, running loads and raising money for charity by running are alien ideas.
She gets that I’m running a lot… but that’s about it. I was telling her about Sunday’s half-marathon yesterday and the conversation went something like this:
‘So mum, I ran this half marathon.’
‘It’s a race, like a marathon but half the distance.’
‘So it’s not a marathon?’
‘No mum, that’s why it’s called a half marathon.’
‘So did you win?’
‘No, I came 174th’
‘It sounds like you had no chance of winning.’
‘So why do it?’
‘For fun, to take part, to see how good I am.’
‘Trelos.’ (it means crazy)
A bit of silence followed where I think neither of us knew where to take the running conversation. And then she came back with:
‘So, with all this running, will you be training for the London Olympics?’
Bless her, she really did think I had a chance of running in the Olympics, despite the fact I’m 42, have been running seriously for less than a year and have knackered legs.’
You’ve got to love mums, they always think their kids are the best.
Miles today: 3
Miles to date: 741.07