Friday, 21 June 2013

Just outside the comfort zone

This week I was mostly praying for rain, specifically very heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday. This is because that was when my most dreaded event in the school calendar was scheduled - Sports Day - and therefore when the 'Mummy race' was due to take place. But of course it was great weather on Wednesday, and so - joy of joys - the event could go on as planned...

Becoming a trophy wife

I have no idea why I hate the thought of running competitively in front of a crowd so very much. Apart from the competitive bit - oh yes, and the crowd bit too. In reality, I think of myself as rather fit - I go to the gym every morning and recently discovered I can fit into the dress I had for my sixth form 'leavers ball' (I'm planning to wear it to an eighties club night - because sadly I was around when Rick Astley first made all those infamous promises). And yet, running, in front of the assembled parents - I feel sick at the very thought of it. Maybe it's a hangover from my own school days, while I was pretty good at hockey and even played for my local town as a teenager, generally speaking, the sports field was not where I excelled. To say nothing of the so-very-thick sports 'knickers' we had to endure wearing during 'games' lessons...

In previous years I have managed to get out of running, as I had a younger sibling attached to my leg. But I was also very disappointed when my elder child refused to participate in her running race - or indeed take part in the relay race that involves running back and forth dressed in an assortment of 'silly' clothes. I had to ask myself, had I subliminally passed on my reservations by not running - or was this just the introvert within our DNA showing through? Either way, last year, when she asked me why I hadn't run in the mummy race, I promised her if she did her race next time - so would I.

And so within the blink of an eye, a year had passed and I now have two self-effacing daughters at that school trying so very hard not to be noticed in life. I was determined to show them that running the race was no big deal. I sort of wanted it to be no big deal for me too - I mean I'm a 43 year old woman - I don't have time to sweat the small stuff right? We talked about it before hand - and I tried to convince all of us (mostly me) that the family has some kind of competitive spirit, that we were going to run those races - and run 'em good. The night before I asked my husband to show me in the garden how you are actually supposed to run - like where do your arms go and what do you do at the start? It made me wonder if I'd actually ever run a race before!!

Worst case scenario - you make a tit of yourself

Come Wednesday morning, I felt like I could hear the clock ticking down towards the event. The girls had gone off to school equipped with hats and water bottles, slathered in sun cream because of the BLOODY LOVELY WEATHER. Mummy went off to the gym as per, and thought about the impending moment of doom, trying hard to remember not to eat too much lunch and get a stitch or something equally embarrassing. I headed off to the school field at the allotted time, wondering if I would actually go through with it. Could I?

And so, the children came out of their classrooms onto the field - and both of mine gave me big smiles and waves. They looked like they might actually be enjoying the day. The team races came and went and the girls took part in everything and didn't even freak out when I popped up close by to snap away with my smartphone. I can't say either of them really got the concept that speed was of the essence in these situations - but just taking part is quite something for Team Introvert! And the children's individual running races started - with both my girls happily 'running' down the track, smiles on their faces, blissfully unaware of winners or losers. It was lovely to watch.

And then, gulp, the mummies were up. We were herded over to the start by the head teacher and, safe in the knowledge I had prepared by wearing a sports bra and my lovely Vivo Barefoot trainers, I stood at that white line and stared at the ribbon way down at the other end. And suddenly we were off - and I ran for it. I didn't need to worry about where my arms and legs were - apparently they do know how to run. And I ran fairly fast too, all that gym work has paid off, not only is there less of me to propel these days but my legs felt pretty strong. I didn't win of course - mainly 'cos this isn't the movies (although it would have made for a far better blog) - but I felt pretty proud that I'd taken part - and shown that mummy can move it.

Winning feels good...apparently

But perhaps the best feeling of all that day was when I went to pick up my youngest from her classroom, to find she had made me a gold medal. 'Well I didn't actually win' I told her. Her reply? 'But mummy you took part and you were really brave'. Sometimes stepping out of that comfort zone brings rewards - maybe not the ones you were expecting - but ones that taste so much sweeter.
Vintage Vanessa - my enthusiasm for Sports Day started back at primary school
How do you feel about sports day and the parent races? Have past experiences put you off  for life - or do you actually like to get your fit on? Let me know in the comment box below.

[And just a heads up that next week, I'll be taking part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding campaign and will have a rather lovely Breastvest to give away.]


  1. OMG where did that photo come from? Glad to hear all the Holburn girls got running

  2. This post had me flashing back to 1970 when my father was an exchange teacher in Devizes, Wiltshire, England. Coming from a big city high school in the United States, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of a "Sports Day" in which all students were expected to participate.To say I wasn't a sports jock would be a huge understatement. On the appointed day, I was signed up to compete in swimming.I even had to purchase a new bathing suit (uh, swimming costume). Fortunately, diving into the freezing cold water (England, outside swimming in early May? Really?)sent adrenalin coursing through my veins and I reached the opposite wall ahead of everyone else. Perhaps I had a slight edge because my race stroke was the front(a/k/a the American) crawl.

    1. Excellent work! Yes the whole 'Sports Day' concept is a bit peculiar... But I always think of American high schools as far more into sports than UK equivalents. I'm glad there's not a swimming race for mummies - I'm more of a 'not getting my head under water breaststroke' gal!!!

  3. Forgive me for posting this here (with a link), but I couldn't figure out how else to contact you -- Google+ doesn't seem to have a messaging function (or else I'm too dense to figure it out). I just wanted to let you know that this post of yours triggered one for me about my English school Sports Day memory:

    1. No problem at all!! I will pop over and read...