Top five goofs in my run­ning life

The Star (Kenya) - - Sasa - BY TOM JALIO

Imag­ine lead­ing a 10km race only to be over­taken by three peo­ple in the fi­nal 100m, get­ting a stom­ach ache in the mid­dle of a half marathon, and train­ing for a full marathon only to miss it en­tirely af­ter mis­tak­ing the date.

Such mo­ments ought to have pushed me into re­tire­ment a long time ago, but an am­a­teur run­ner’s curse is the eter­nal pur­suit of re­demp­tion.

2011: SHADY PREPA­RA­TIONS

I thought I’d found a smart way to fin­ish 21km in this city in the sun with­out get­ting my eyes fried. I mean, why wasn’t ev­ery­one wear­ing sun­glasses? It looked like such an ob­vi­ous trick to the trade. Well, I didn’t feel so smart when I got to the start­ing line and re­alised I’d for­got­ten my shades in the chang­ing bag. I dashed back to get them and re­turned to find the run­ners had long taken off.

2005: PRE­MA­TURE AC­CEL­ER­A­TION

You are in the front­line hud­dle 400m to the end of a 10km race. Adren­a­line kicks in. Full speed ahead! Sadly, by the time you get to the last 100m, you are out of gas. The bug­gers you thought you’d shown dust are right on your heels. One by one, they pass you, and you can only wish you could get away with trip­ping them.

2015: CAL­EN­DAR MAL­FUNC­TION

I missed what would have been my mile­stone 10th year in the Stanchart Marathon races last year. The of­fi­cial line has been that my knee was injured. While in­deed I wasn’t a 100 per cent fit, truth is, I was caught nap­ping on race day. I knew it was al­ways on the last Sun­day of the month, but was de­ceived when it fell far­thest pos­si­ble from end-month ( 25th out of 31 days) into think­ing it was the fol­low­ing week­end. So I lounged in the house like a cat, strolled out at mid­day to empty the trash, and alas, my neigh­bour was in a sweaty Stanchart shirt. Had he been jog­ging, I asked. No, he was re­turn­ing from the race. “Didn’t you see it on TV?” he asked, as my jaw hit the floor.

2007: POR­RIDGE NIGHT­MARE

The race man­ual in­cluded tips like tak­ing por­ridge ahead of the race. Boy, did I take a lot of it! With my in­flated tummy bounc­ing as I raced, the bev­er­age thrashed around and re­acted like a Chem­istry lab ex­per­i­ment. I pity those who had the mis­for­tune of run­ning be­hind me as I started belch­ing and fart­ing. The portable toi­lets road­side were soiled by other run­ners’ own night­mares and out of tis­sue pa­per, so I stayed pressed for hours un­til I got back home. I’ve since run twice the dis­tance, but that was my long­est race ever.

2010: FIRE IN THE PANTS

Stitches and blis­ters come with the ter­ri­tory in long-dis­tance run­ning, but I once de­vel­oped a unique sen­sa­tion af­ter a poor choice of run­ning shorts. The net­ting in­side it chafed mer­ci­lessly against my man­hood as I ran and started glu­ing it­self to the in­side of my thigh. I kept tug­ging my shorts down, think­ing it was sweat, but was shocked to find af­ter the race that it was ac­tu­ally blood. I would never have re­cov­ered from the em­bar­rass­ment if my shorts weren’t black and thus able to con­ceal the stain.

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