I used to be fit.
Many, many years ago I was superbly, effortlessly fit. The type of fit you take for granted as a pre-pubescent girl.
It was that long ago.
We were an active family; I did swimming, ballet, judo (all of them reluctantly and without talent), and we would do marathon 'walks' in the Yorkshire Dales every Sunday fortified only by cheese and pickle sandwiches and the occasional lump of Kendal mint cake. It's good stuff, pure sugar, but still provided barely enough calories to help us face the drizzle and drag our muck-clad wellies round that final escarpment.
My Dad had a way of guiding a car key around an Ordinance Survey map that instilled fear and awe in my brother and I. He would prop the map up on the bonnet of our car, the drizzle-laden North-Easterly winds whipping it out from under him until he had it pinned with rocks. He would point at the 'suggested route' and instead would drag 'the magic key' towards a cluster of such tightly-packed contours that it looked like the skin of a chain-smoking 75-year-old Floridian. All I could usually see of my brother's face under his yashmak-like Peter Storm was the glint of panic in his eyes.
We both knew what was coming next.
'Now the map seems to suggest we go along this meadow here' he would say, passing the key tantalizingly close to a flat riverbed area, 'but I'm inclined to think that if we just cut up this road, and go along here', jabbing at the angry-looking contours while my brother and I look at him in growing alarm, 'here's where we might be able to cut across and make these two suggested five-mile walks in to something a little more interesting'. We knew that to mean a marathon 10 mile Man vs Wild survival challenge with the outside chance of a Cadbury's creme egg at a village shop or a shandy and lemonade at the Miner's Arms if we made it back to the car park. Both of us wondering why we weren't at home watching the Waltons along with the rest of humanity.
My Mum would be sitting in the car, shielded from the weather, listening to the Archers on the radio until the last possible moment.
We certainly ended up fit though.
I remember our first ever 'Double Games' at secondary school. We went for a cross-country run, up past the hockey pitch, further even than the athletics track, a piece of school turf so remote we called it the 'North Pole'. Past the 'bog fields' and then for good measure up a delightfully steep and deliberate hill. It was probably about 3 miles all told. I remember coming in in 2nd place and being genuinely puzzled at the tattered wrecks of humanity who collapsed into the changing rooms later that day. Ex-friends looking at me with pure hatred 'you could've waited with us ya cow.'
That was when I was fit.
Now I get it. Now when I run it feels like my lungs are going to burst through my nose in pursuit of oxygen. My legs feel like they weigh 100lbs each. Training has made it easier, but it's only 3 weeks to the race and I know that I will be no way near fit enough to do it without pain, let alone effortlessly. I would love to be able to do the race and enjoy it. I would love to have trained enough so that doing the race and having fun with it would be my reward. To be able to do the race like LK, and breeze through the disciplines.
My husband, the pre-pubescent teenage girl.