How to be a winner in the fine art of Sports Day
All day I had been getting ready – all year, if truth be told. The parents’ races are the highlight of the day but the real skill is in generating a veneer of nonchalance while being as primed, pumped and ready as a real athlete.
Having had years of underpreparation for each race, I knew that there was no short cut to take in that regard.
I had once worn flip flops, so that I could look terribly underprepared, but then to be able to slip them off with a casual eye-roll of “if only I’d thought, I would have worn trainers” and then strike out like Zola Budd. Whooft. Away I went.
By the next year I had got through the ‘denial’ stage of the mums’ race and selected a pair of converses. These, I hoped would look natural on my feet, but would be better suited to the actual running part, to detract from the naked thudding of ma baries. But, as we know, Converses are not fit for purpose in real life (unless real life is a ceilidh or a disco), let alone sporting activity. No grip, no support, no traction. Hopeless.
Then, last year, I thought I would go for trail shoes. But… subtly. I dressed as little like a runner as possible and hoped that my fresh-from-tough-mudder shoes would blend in amongst the other footwear. This time is was my steak-pie-esque needing-an-apronectomy gut that let me down. I set off well, managing to avoid calf injuries, only for my gut to kangaroo out of my shorts so that I had to grab it with one hand while restraining my chest with the other. A lesson learned.
So this year was the year. Trail shoes and decent underwear. Still had to dress as if competition was the furthest thing from my mind. You see, it’s the one race where I might not be absolutely last out of everyone I know. There is a chance that one or two of them might not be as fast as me. There might even be someone there who is still in the flip-flop phase, the converse phase, or even the ‘hey-that’d-be-fun-I-think-I’ll-race’ phase. They’d be toast. Mwahahahaha.
We are not quite at the gazebo, picnic and plastic non-alcoholic-champagne flute stage yet, but we did have a rug. Perfect pitch for spectating, perfect weather. Just had to get the kids’ races out of the way before the parents’ races.
At what point do you warm up? Do you warm up? Either you look like a complete choob warming up or you can use it as an opportunity to psych out the opposition. It’s tough. And then, when they shout out that it’s the mums’ race, does one lunge-walk to the start so that one’s children can be utterly mortified? Tee hee.
They ran out of time.
There was no mums’ race this year.
As we stood in the playground to collect the children, it was heartening to see an uncharacteristically high turnout of running shoes amongst the choices of footwear for the day.
It would have been a great race.