About four weeks ago I foolishly signed up to run the Trees For Cities Tree-athlon. It's not even a real Triathlon: you just have to do a 5k run and then possibly a bit of treeplanting. However it's that "just" having to do a 5k run I'm currently in trouble with.
Pretty much anyone who went to school with me will tell you I am a bit of a reluctant runner. Happy to do hurdles, back crawl, long jump, netball even; running, though, and I'd develop a severe case of hay fever that meant I had to stay safely in the athletics pavilion. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never run further than a mile. Ever. And five kilometres is just over three.
So yesterday I got an email reminding I had just six weeks to go till the big, over three-mile, day. Six weeks! And I hadn't actually done any actual, well, training. And where exactly are my trainers, now I come to think about it? So this morning I dug them out, with something of the same sense of reluctance that once sent me fleeing for the athletics pavilion, and decided to try and run for seven minutes without stopping.
Well, I did it, running round the block at a slug's pace (literally, I was lapped by one of those yellow ones with the orange edges) and crossing the road to avoid any eye contact with Polish loft conversion specialists. All I can say is, I am now extremely pink.
But then I drove round the block in my car to measure the distance and it was a totally depressing mere 0.6 miles. Oh my god, what have I let myself in for? I am going to be overtaken by grandmas. Possibly even my own grandmas.
I feel that the trees of London may have a long wait on their hands before my fitness actually has anything to offer them. But on the other hand, signing up for this race got me to go for a run, which has to be a good thing, right? For a start I've breathed out loads of extra carbon dioxide for them to metabolize. Oh, that's probably actually not necessary, is it? Possibly the most useful part of the experience is the chance to nose into lots and lots of people's windowboxes and front garden planting. If and when I make any significant improvement on that shocking 12-minute-mile time, I'll let you know.