I was never a sporty kid. I’d oscillate between hyperactive, bouncing everywhere and seeking attention, to being in my imagination on my own, but I was never the driven, disciplined, team sports girl.
The first time I ever thought that I might be sporty was when I read this sentence in one of my school reports when I was 14: ‘Ellie can be a good cross country runner when she wants to be’. Until then I had only ever considered running to be something that you used to get somewhere quickly. When I read that, I thought that there might well be a sports person in me yet…
Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t immediately lead to a successful national youth cross country career. This isn’t that story. But I did think that perhaps I could be one of those rosy cheeked, high-ponytailed sporty types who munched on english muffins after a gruelling outdoor sports session.
Sadly, there are no pics of me in sports gear as a teen as I wasn’t sporty. But here’s a pic of me in my best 90s dungarees at my 15th birthday sleepover.
I think everyone has at least one teacher who stands out among the crowd once they reach adulthood. For me, there are three:
- A Maths teacher who worked so patiently and tirelessly to help me scrape a good grade in my Maths exams (basically he was Mr Steer from Educating Yorkshire)
- An English teacher who taught me the beauty of literature and the joy of learning for its own sake
- This Sports teacher who wrote that in my report. As well as encouraging my
latesporting abilities, this sports teacher also gave pastoral support too (Mrs Marsden from Educating Yorkshire if you will)
She was the epitome of the sporty type: always seriously tanned (sailing in Summer, skiing in Winter), always outside, and always wearing a rugby top. Or a body warmer. Or something that basically said ‘I am dressing for comfort not for fashion because I have important sports to do’.
Sadly, she died last year of a brain tumour. I reckon she must have been in her late 40s. I had always thought it would be nice to get in touch and see how she is, but now there’ll never be that chance. Whether or not I’d have started running without that school report is impossible to say. However I distinctly remember that being the moment when sports became something I could engage with rather than watching from the outside, treating all PE lessons as a chance to muck about and show off at how spectacularly I could miss the tennis ball/lacross goal/netball hoop.
So: my first marathon is dedicated to her, and I have made a donation to Brain Tumour UK.
Also, whilst we’re on this sentimental path, I’d also like to thank Gilly for encouraging me to actually enter a marathon (not just talk about it), for always being there to answer any of my many questions, and for basically being a bad-ass best friend. And SB for supporting me when I’ve literally planned the last 4 months of our lives around when I can go running for 3 hours at a time, and for creating what I know will be an amazing support banner for the day. I’m sure he’s got something spectacular up his sleeve…..
That’s the last sentimental, self-indulgent posts about this event, I promise! If you haven’t tried running ‘for’ someone, it’s definitely worth considering. Even in the harder training sessions, thinking about someone/something important gave an additional burst of energy and motivation to carry on.
And now: onwards to Sunday, and we’ll see how the final showdown goes. I have A, B and C goals (C is basically to carry on without crying), and brand new socks. It’s going to be a blast!
Have a great weekend!