3 July 2016
These days it’s usually me standing on the sidelines and Commando running but today was supposed to be the other way round. The role reversal didn’t quite go to plan though. On Thursday night, when he was out hill running with the Spitfires, Commando injured his ankle. Suffice to say it has been a frustrating couple of days. Rest is not a word in his vocabulary and the more I went on about rest, ice, compression and elevation the more fraught the atmosphere in our little house became.
An injured runner is very similar to a bear with a sore head, or some other large, caged wild animal. Somehow we’d managed not to come to blows and I even got one lot of ice on the ankle and a compression sock. Sadly, neither had much effect while he was still walking around ‘doing things that have to be done.” It couldn’t have come on a busier weekend. On Saturday we were supposed to go to Fareham for another Spitfires on tour parkrun and today was the Summer Social at Victoria Country Park. There was also the small matter of Race For Life.
With the new camera I’d had high hopes of Commando running round taking pictures of me power walking the six mile course. He could hardly walk without wincing in pain though, so that was never going to happen. Even so, he insisted on hobbling along to the Common with me, even if the walk from the car to the start line was painful, slow and almost ended up with him getting run over trying to cross The Avenue.
We set up camp on the one small strip of dry concrete we found and sat people watching. Just before the start we spotted a group of Spitfire ladies and limped over to join them. Then it was time to line up. Of course they were all at the front with the runners while I, feeling rather inadequate, was relegated to the back with the walkers and people in fancy dress.
Thoughts of Commando waiting around on the field made me push my pace for the whole six miles. It wasn’t long before I was overtaking some of the slower runners who’d started before me. One at a time I picked them off. Mostly I never saw them again. Heading down The Avenue I got a wave from Kylie coming back the other way. One group of four runners played tag with me, overtaking and being overtaken. At the nine kilometre marker I passed them for the final time and felt secretly pleased when I reached the finish without being overtaken again. Commando was on the finish line so there was one photo of me crossing the line. Obviously, all the Spitfire ladies were long gone. Even so, I didn’t do too badly for a mere walker, finishing in one hour thirty minutes.
The sensible thing for both of us to do next would have been to go home and have a long, lazy afternoon drinking coffee and snoozing. What we actually did was go home, have a coffee, wash, get changed and dash back out again to Victoria Country Park for the Itchen Spitfire’s Summer Social, stopping on the way to pick up some sandwiches snacks and drinks. If I’d thought for one moment we’d actually been going I’d have prepared a proper picnic.
We set up camp on a blanket on the grass next to Russ’ family. We chatted and ate our hastily grabbed lunch. Some of the more energetic Spitfires were on the field playing frisbee, including Russ who is supposed to be resting his own injury. What is it about runners? The game petered out when Russ got hit in the chin by the frisbee and he came to join us.
A game of football began in the shadow of the old hospital chapel. Commando and Russ looked on enviously. They’d both have liked to be running around joining in. Once I’d eaten I had a little wander around the perimeter of the game with my camera, snapping away. It seemed rather competitive but I suppose, with a group of runners, that was to be expected.
For the children there was a coconut shy and, once the football game finished, Gill organised a tug of war, boys against girls. Much to my surprise the little girls in their pretty dresses beat the boys hands down. There was a lot of raucous cheering from the girls camp and a few sullen looks from the boys. To be fair, the poor boys were outnumbered.
A rematch was arranged. A certain amount of cheating appeared to be going on with several adults joining in. The girls won the second match too. At least I think they did, I got slightly distracted by a little Spitfire in a very fetching hat and missed the end. More, larger boys were found for the final attempt and this time the boys did win.
Then it was time for the adults to have a go. First it was ladies against ladies, with lots of giggling and hilarity. Typically, the men were slightly more serious about the whole thing when their turn came.
Then it was women against men, with predictable results.
Finally Russ took on Paul. It was a hard fought match and it ended with Russ hurting his ear when he got caught in the rope. Thankfully it wasn’t serious, but I’m beginning to think that man is an accident waiting to happen.
With the adult competitions over we went back to our blanket while Gill organised games for the smaller children. From what I could make out it was some kind of egg and spoon race with water ballons. It looked like fun but I couldn’t quite summon the energy to go and watch. My eyes were getting heavy. I shut them for a moment. After that everything is hazy. The next thing I knew Commando was waking me up. It was time to pack up and go home.
We left as the sun began to sink. Despite injuries and tiredness it had been a lovely afternoon.
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