On Sunday night, I was given the opportunity to make amends for my greatest musical regret of all time – getting so over excited about witnessing Blur headline Glastonbury in 2009, that I drank most of a bottle of rum and consequently have almost no memory of the performance. The only things I remember are: a) ruining my mate, Mr Nick’s night because he had to physically extract me from the crowd and wait around afterwards until I had regained the power of movement, and b) inexplicably putting my back out. So, imagine my delight when a mate offered me a spare ticket to their celebratory Olympics concert, in Hyde Park. I enjoyed the gig responsibly and limited my cider consumption, but I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve felt better than I did yesterday morning.
So, in this context, I give you Monday 13 August: Day One, the training begins in earnest. The Olympic hangover is looming over me, metaphorically and indeed, physically but I need to crack on with improving my fitness, strength, stamina… I’m in better shape than I was when I decided I was going to run the London Marathon, but let’s just say that if I’m actually going to even attempt every Olympic sport, there’s all-round room for improvement.
So where to start? What can I achieve that won’t make me vomit and doesn’t require too much effort (because I think we can all agree that this is the spirit of an elite athlete)? Running is simply out of the question, so I start with a swim, because swimming’s easy, right?
In search of inspiration, I tweet (yeah that’s right, this is the incongruous David Dimbleby, Question Time moment: you can follow my “journey”on Twitter – @inspireajen) 6 time world champion swimmer and all-round attractive chap, Mark Foster.
“@markfosterswim , I’m taking on a project re. #2012legacy any motivational words for a hungover would be swimmer?”
I can exclusively reveal that Mark Foster had no motivational words for me, which is disappointing. Come on Mark, you handsome, swimming legend, I’m 29, you’re 42 – you do the maths, yeah? So off to the pool I go, with just my cast-iron will and waves of nausea serving as inspiration.
Only thing is, it transpires that I’m really quite unfit and swimming is not as easy as I’d hoped. I first suffer the humiliation of accidentally hopping into the “learning” lane and am promptly asked by an apologetic lifeguard to move on. So, knowing my limits, I relocate to the slow lane, where I negotiate a bit of space between some yout’s at one end of the lane and some even younger children bombing at the other.
A woman looks angry with me when I’m, as the lane suggests, very slow and overtakes me a bit huffily. Seriously, how insecure do you have to be to endure the pace of the slow lane just to make yourself look marginally faster? Just get in the middle lane and accept you’re slower than the others. Freak.
I huff and puff and after about 10 lengths I’m starting to get cramp in my hand, and I note that I’m swimming at a pace of about 25 metres in about a minute. To put this in context, and speaking of former world record holders, in 2001, handsome Twitter non-respondee, Mark Foster broke the world record in the 50m Freestyle with a time of 21.13 seconds. Embarrassing.
I start to hit my stride but ultimately, decide to call it a day after my knee starts clicking in a slightly painful way. Half an hour seems like a reasonable effort, under the circumstances. But I feel good for it. The endorphins are kicking in and in equal measures of terror and pride, I hear Heather Small ringing in my ears, again, and I imagine crossing the finishing line (in a small boat, probably) in Rio.
With crushing disappointment, the elation is short lived and I’m forced to suppress a little bit of sick as I exit Clissold Leisure Centre (The vomit and Clissold leisure centre are unrelated, I should add. It’s very nice in there, actually). But that was day one, and from one glamorous lady to another, in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.
© Inspire a Jen, 2013.