The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - April 23, 2015

Steve Canavan cools down after exercise
Steve Canavan cools down after exercise
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I don’t know what it is about me and embarrassing situations, but I seem to have a knack for them. With the Blackpool 10k coming up (Sunday, May 10, all proceeds to Trinity Hospice, get your entry form in now), I decided to go out for my first jog of the year the other night.

This is unusual.

My first jog of the year is usually the Blackpool 10k itself. It’s also my last jog of the year.

In other words, I normally do no training, just turn up on the day, run 10k, then go home and return to my usual position of sitting on the sofa watching Mrs Canavan chunner about having to do the ironing.

However, after last year’s 10k I realised age had finally caught up with me. I was in such a pathetic state that I struggled to climb the stairs for three days afterwards, and at one low moment – sat sobbing on the third step, unable to go any higher – briefly considered having a stairlift fitted.

Chastened by that experience, I decided I should do at least one training session ahead of this year’s event, and thus it was that on Sunday night I slipped on the trainers and pair of shorts I wear once a year and headed out.

The plan was to run from my house in St Annes to Lytham and back, so about seven miles, just over 10k.

At first, I felt fantastic. As I rushed through the streets, wind whistling between my thighs, I imagined onlookers nudging each other and saying in astonishment: ‘Hey, have you seen that guy? He reminds me of a young Sebastian Coe’.

I bounced along, heading up towards Ansdell, passing dog walkers with a wave and a cheery smile and thinking how easy this running malarkey was.

Just past Ansdell my legs suddenly, without warning, began to feel remarkably heavy, as if someone had replaced the muscle with a batch of quick-set concrete.

‘You’re a man, not a mouse – push on, grin and bear it,’ I told myself.

Soon after, sweat began to drip from my brow like a leaking tap and my wheezing became so loud that at one point I woke a sleeping baby in an adjacent bungalow.

As I approached Lytham Green, a shade over three miles into my run, my left calf exploded.

Well it didn’t actually explode. That would have been horrific, and is strictly against Fylde Council guidelines (Rule 27.4B: no exploding body parts in the vicinity of the Green).

But it felt like it had exploded. I turned and looked down, half expecting my leg to actually be on fire. Disappointingly there wasn’t even any smoke, but the pain was so intense that I sort of half collapsed, half slowly lay face-down the floor.

I lay there panting and wondering what to do. I didn’t have a mobile phone and wasn’t sure I could move.

Just at that moment I heard a voice say ‘are you OK duck?’ and turned to see a rather frail-looking old lady peering at me.

‘I’m fine’, I replied, as nonchalantly as one can when one is lay face down on grass, sobbing in agony, at 8pm in the evening, dressed in luminous green shorts.

‘Are you sure?’ she said. She was wiser than she looked.

I had to explain my predicament, that I’d gone for a jog but appeared to have damaged something in my calf, and despite the fact that I’m hugely brave (this is a lie; I fainted the last time I had my bloods taken), the pain was too much to go on.

She in turn explained she used to be a nurse and it was how it came to be that at 8 o’clock last Sunday evening, anyone walking along Lytham Green would have seen a pensioner in her early 80s massaging the calf of a grimacing man.

On her mobile phone, she called her husband (‘Hello Alf, I’m holding a young man’s leg – I think he could do with a lift home’) and five minutes later he pulled up. I was helped into the car by the two of them and they drove me to my front door.

All hugely embarrassing, but what a reassuring act of human kindness.

Alf and Audrey were absolutely lovely and, in return for their help, Mrs Canavan and I are having them round for dinner next week.

Hopefully, this time, unless a freak disaster occurs as I remove the chicken casserole from the oven, there will be no need for a massage to my calf area.

How condensing 90 minutes into 27 seconds

proved a massive hit

Sense of humour isn’t always a quality you’d attach to modern football clubs. Hats off then to the press office at Doncaster Rovers.

Asked to upload on to the internet the highlight’s of their team’s 0-0 draw with Fleetwood on Saturday – which was apparently a shockingly dull match – they did exactly that.

But they were disarmingly honest about it.

The highlights package they put on the web lasted 27 seconds and consisted of the teams walking out, a goal kick, and the full-time whistle.

The highlights have now been viewed millions of times on the internet, and Doncaster are being praised for their actions.

When I told a Blackpool fan about the above, he suggested they edit the Seasiders end-of-season DVD in a similar manner – by his reckoning it would last three seconds and consist of a throw-in.