I did my first half-marathon at the weekend, during which the most depressing thing that has ever happened in the life occurred.
Half a mile from the end I was overtaken by a banana.
Yes, you read right. I had run for two hours, during which I had shed sweat, tears and blood – the latter after I’d tripped on some cobbles and gone flying. No one stopped to help, in fact, as blood oozed from my left knee at an alarming rate, one bloke, a bloke I pray lives on his own and doesn’t receive many Christmas cards, swore at me for getting in his way.
Yet just as I was coming towards the closing strait I felt something brush by and turned to my left to see a bloke dressed as the afore-mentioned fruit, running about twice as fast as me.
Now for those who don’t understand my distress, let’s dwell on this.
I – wearing shorts and a T-shirt – was struggling to put one foot in front of the other without toppling over in exhaustion. This bloke was wearing an eight-foot long yellow furry banana costume and yet was, after 12 miles, running quicker than me and by some distance.
Demoralising doesn’t quite cover it.
The only thing about as depressing was the moment before the race when I filled in my entry form.
An iimportant-looking woman in a luminous jacket asked my age.
“39”, I replied, before remembering that I turned 40 last week. “Oh no, I mean 40,” I said.
She stopped writing. ‘Oh, Ok then, that changes things,’ she said. ‘I’ll have to re-do your form – you’re in the veterans category’.
It was like a verbal dagger through the heart.
I didn’t even want to run a half-marathon. On a list of things I want to achieve in life it is up there with being involved in a serious car accident and catching the Zika virus.
But Mrs Canavan has recently taken up running with a vengeance, and wanted someone to run with.
However, being a loving, compassionate, caring husband – and, more to the point, because she’d promised to buy me a meal if I accompanied her – we set off for the race venue on Sunday morning at 6.30am.
That in itself was annoying. Why have a marathon which starts at 9am? Surely, other than postmen and the lark, no-one functions at their optimum level first thing in the morning?
We were shattered by the time we arrived and then had to join a lengthy queue to register. After that we had to join an even lengthier queue for the toilets, which were the kind of temporary loos you find at a music festival. I don’t know who had been in the toilet before me but I’m pretty sure they’d had a chicken vindaloo the previous evening.
Then the race started. Or at least officially it did. A loud hooter sounded somewhere in the distance, but there were so many runners (apparently more than 6,000) the start line was blocked and it was another five minutes or so before we actually moved.
Running 13.1 miles wasn’t actually as difficult as I’d feared, and it was helped by the fact that the event was so well-organised and everyone was so nice.
Within a mile, for example, a man had complimented Mrs Canavan on her leggings. “They’re a lovely colour, where did you get them from?” asked the fella, who was running in a tiny pair of shorts and a vest.
‘Ooh, thank you,’ gushed Mrs Canavan, ‘they’re from a sports shop near Lytham, but I’m not sure they’re quite the right fit.’
The chap looked her up and down, lingeringly I thought, and said, “don’t you worry, they look absolutely perfect from where I’m standing”.
I coughed slightly and introduced myself as her husband, something which Mrs Canavan seemed surprisingly annoyed at.
The chap said an awkward ‘hello’ then sped up and out of sight.
We completed the course in a shade under two hours – a time which Mrs Canavan seemed quite happy with.
The bad news is that she now wants to do a full marathon and has entered us into one in Belfast at the start of May.
I love her, but not that much. I sense a sudden, unfortunate groin strain in late April coming on.