Shaking Off Elaine Paige – 7 November

My run invitation from Mr Smooth duly pinged on my phone (funnily enough I haven’t dated him in a long time) and this time I was awake when it arrived. Yesterday was a day of readjustment to London City life, after the slow, lazy and let’s be honest warm days of Italy, coming back to mucky, busy chilly London was always going to be tough.

Nonetheless I was prepared for this feeling and so all of my running kit was put ready and waiting; winking at me from the chest of drawers and coughing loudly each time I walked past it and didn’t stop to get changed. I think I had somewhat overestimated the level of cold though. Fleece lined running tights – check. Padded socks – check. Under layer with optional hood for cold weather – check. Running jacket  with interlining – check. Gloves – check. Neck buff – check. Now how about actually checking the weather? And not just by looking at the sky through the window, thinking ‘wow that looks cold’. Real live weather check revealed it was chilly but not neck buff weather.

Off I trotted, well walked mmm my internal thermometer obviously somewhat awry as the gloves came off before the warm-up walk was finished. Then I started my run – today was to be a cheeky 5km, after Saturday’s 10km. Now I do suffer from a number of syndromes, which make running hard. First of all, we have stupid tart syndrome, which is my ability to self injure through the most ridiculous actions – stepping off a non-slip shower tray anyone? No? – then how about missing a step in a bar, before you’ve actually had a drink? These two put me on the injury couch…doh.

Then there is my uncanny ability to invite faffolino into my life, just 5 minutes prior to doing a run. Faffolino is my prevarication weapon – thinking of cleaning the grout lines in the bathroom – yes why not do it just before a run, because that’s by far the best time to do it!

And finally, audience dahlingitis – this is when I am running and I feel the need to play to the gallery. Think Elaine Paige in all her stage-madame glory – that’s me when running in front of an audience (aka the rest of the world). I don’t sweep around with an entourage, or take endless curtain calls, but I do feel the need to ‘ham it up’ when running. In Italy I am not afflicted by this very often, because there is hardly anyone around to see me. London however, a different beast altogether. The warm up walk has to involve a screwed up intense looking face, combined with robotic jabbing arms, swinging up and down to indicate to the populus that this is serious walking, in fact warming up walking, and not ‘I am having a stroll’ walking.

Then we get onto the run itself, my speed seems to increase in direct proportion to the number of people around me – this is audience dahlingitis in action. Now that is a problem, because really I am a comfort runner not a speedy Gonzales runner. This morning the gloves were off literally and metaphorically, and I was running merrily to Alison By Elvis Costello (well the last bars, as he’d accompanied me on the warm up walk) and then Gloria by Laura Branigan came on. This, if you pardon the naming pun, is not a shrinking violet song and so I ran quite fast to give me my first km 6.05 mins. This is not great really, nor sustainable as I am still running anaerobically and I know I will pay for it later in the run. The second km comes up sub 6mins and the third sub 6 too. Ah yes at this point, the running gods extracted their payment – in the form of cramp in my right calf, and a curious leadweight feeling in my feet.

Any pretensions I now had of doing my very first 5k in 30 minutes, ran out of the door, and no amount of supportive audience numbers on the streets of London were going to bring it back. Not even the delivery driver who smartly sidestepped me and said ‘I’m sorry miss’. At 30 minutes 58 seconds I finished 5k. To make sure my adoring audience knew this was planned, I said (to no-one in particular) -‘oh good that’s nearly 30 minutes’.

Now I know I have to overcome audience dahlingitis, because clearly it’s a bizarre habit and I don’t do it in Italy, but this I think is till one of my fastest 5ks. So do I shake off Elaine Paige or not? And was my choice of running material a help? I’ve just created a new playlist, all based around lady’s names, with a few choice ‘anthemic’ songs too, and maybe the female focus got me to 5k faster.

Playlist

Alison – Elvis Costello

Gloria – Laura Branigan

Jean Genie – David Bowie

Dear Prudence – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Francine – ZZ Top

Kayleigh – Marillion

Oh Yoko – John Lennon

St Xenia – Katina

Valerie – Amy Winehouse

Uma Thurman – Fall Out Boy

Stats

Distance 5.80km (but stopped at 5km)

Time 39.12

Average Pace 6.45 (min/km)

Fastest km 5.49

Trainers – Saucony

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