Well, last week saw the new regime of training start for most people. I know that for me I was only doing the odd ab exercise or press-up to keep me in trim. It was a good week methinks. First of all it started for me New Years Eve when I went shopping to get some shoes. I came back with 4 pairs. A black smart pair (for formal occasions), a pair of simple walking shoes for everyday (I finally gave up my Rockports which were the most comfy shoes on Earth. For about the first 3 years!), my hiking shoes (beloved and be-expensive!) and a pair of a-hem.... running shoes.
I've never had a pair of running shoes in my life. I don't run. Well, when I do, I like to think that I run properly, without hurting my spine, shins or feet. Mainly because I run properly, through the feet, not just slapping them down on the pavement like I see so many runners do. Was it my years of running barefoot at school? Yeah, not that I always forgot my kit and had to run in vest and pants, but this was Malaysia in the 1970's/early 80's. We didn't bother with shoes unless we were playing football. Now I have an aversion to round things flying through the air towards me - I lasted 2 weeks training on the school cricket team waaaaaaaay back in 1986 - so team sport was/is never my thing. It's why I enjoy capoeira. No balls, no shoes, just a roda and a berimbau and a love of movement. And while it's played together, it's not a team sport. More one-on-one. Oh yeah. And it's meant to be played in the heat. I can't wait to go back to it.
But back to my running shoes. My first attempt at running (late last year, methinks) was first met with 'in those shoes?' from Brooksie. Hmmm... what's wrong with my Rockports? Ok, so they're a bit worn round the edges, but I love(d) them. Then I got a grilling from Chris 'Kiwi' The Kiwi New Zealander Palmer about my footwear. I have had easier footwear slangings from Gok Wan. But he was being very (and thoroughly) H&S about exercise, which was very good. Yeah, Chris is from New Zealand, if no one knew that before, you might not tell from his accent. But yes, early January saw me walking into work with my new Reeboks in my bag. Then having planned my route I ran from work to home. I didn't think I'd make it. But I did. This be the route:Perhaps I shouldn't have had my blackberry in my bag jiggling about as it does look like I was drunk and running through buildings. For a run, for my first real run of the year, of my life (I'm not really counting the one time I did running with the Everesters, that was more training, men. Training.) I knew I was playing it safe - the last two thirds of the run is down the Old Bent Toad which I knew the landmarks of so well. And it's also along my bus route, which was a JIC. (IC I keeled over with a coronary, that is). The landmarks were helpful, for my first run. Tescoise Corner wasn't the great relief that I thought it was going to be but I knew that it was over half way. Seeing the familiar green lights of Asdanistan was better. My second run of the year, the next Monday, I had a meeting in town at The Spotlight about my (hah) "career" which was better than I thought, and more helpful. I was going to run from town to Home but I'd forgotten my trakkie bottoms so I decided to go home first and run a different route that was the same length as my first just to see if I was a little faster.Nope I wasn't faster. I'd taken the wrong turning in Peckham somewhere and decided that possibly it wasn't the best place to get lost in. This time the GPS was in the front pocket. It looks like I'm much more sober, at least.
Along the run I got thinking, which is never a good thing for me to do. I began to think, 'ok, this is good for me, ok I'm getting healthier. But why sweet Lord, WHY?'. I remembered a car journey. I don't know how old I was. Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. It was the Ford Cortina Ghia, I believe, so Adam might be able to narrow down the time. I'm thinking 1978-82 but that could've been the Chrysler as it was a brown interior and they both had brown interiors, I believe... anyway, it was a journey, much like any other in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, going via highways but it was a holiday somewhere... possibly Cameron Highlands or Fraser's Hill or somewhere like that. It was a holiday. We'd stopped in traffic and nothing was moving. I was looking out of the car and I was watching this red lorry turn off into a dirt road. Dirt road. Malaysia. It's bright orange, almost like a terracotta. Bright orange mud.
As the lorry was driving away I thought 'Where are they going? What do they do?' It was a lorry. Like any other lorry. It was a journey for them, like any other. Nothing special. I was perhaps around 8 or 9, but it was the first time I realised that the world didn't revolve around me, it didn't even revolve around my family. Here we are in our air-conditioned car while these people were on a muddy track going off to work or delivering something somewhere that was nothing to do with us, or the people immediately around us... I don't know if this was the start of a self-awareness or something profound like that, or maybe it was fairly normal for people to realise that this world, it sometimes isn't about you. I like to think that I'm on this trip because it isn't about me, it's about the photos, it's about the Sherpa, it's about the people we're trying to help, it's about playing in the team. Which is what we did on Thursday and Saturday at Battersea Park. Much more what we're about. Not really competitive but simply encouraging. In just under three months from now, up until the game, that's what we're going to be doing. Getting up that mountain. Together. As a team. Not competitive -