I live in west London, and I admit I did not want London to host the Olympics. But I’m a convert. Only the most miserable old curmudgeon could resist the carnival of it all, let alone the fact that Brits are winning medals like it was going out of fashion. This is an unfamiliar sensation to a Brit. Most of us have been resigned to our athletes sucking at pretty much every sport there is at international level, which meant that the last Olympics came as quite a surprise. This time it’s like “You only managed a silver medal?!”
Sport was never really a big part of my life, although I am a great advocate of exercise. At school, I was quite good at chucking things and hitting targets. I enjoyed fencing and rowing, though we only got do do interesting stuff like that in our final year. After leaving school, I played soccer for a while. As this was long before the days when women’s soccer was even recognized as a real sport, it mostly meant traveling to remote fields and floundering around in the mud for an hour and a half. I’m not that much of a masochist, so I gave it up when I went to university, although I kept up the running in a desultory kind of way.
Later I took up going to the gym, back when membership didn’t cost an arm and a leg. And yoga, partly because I could do it at home. I like working with weights, because I can lift a lot, and that’s satisfying. And I like yoga, because I’m naturally bendy. These are things I still do, although I gave up my gym membership a few years ago.
And I run. Ten years ago, I ran the London Marathon for the first time. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just simply because it was there. Is marathon running fun? No. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Of course it bloody well is. Coming over the finishing line after a long period of slogging along and thinking “Why am I doing this?” is a fantastic buzz. And so I did it two more times. Paula Radcliffe ran on both those occasions… I came in quite a long way behind her. I also got passed by a rhinoceros, an Imperial stormtroooper, and two girls dressed as apples, although I did pass most of them back.
Yeah, I guess that was satisfying. Suck it up, Horny!