I’ve never understood the competitive mentality of so many people when it comes to sport – I couldn’t care less about winning. I must be the only person who has had tennis coaching for years but refused to play in a competitive match! (This is obviously a trait I have had for years, and I certainly didn’t inherit the sportsperson gene from my father, as per the extract from ‘In Sickness and in Health’, below.) However because I’ve started swimming a fair bit, I thought I’d join in the Diabetes UK challenge of doing 22 miles (equivalent to swimming the Channel and I don’t have the guts or the ability to do that) in 3 months. But (and here there’s a cue for dramatic thunder and lightning) for some unearthly reason, I set myself an even harder target of doing 22 miles in 22 days. Not sure my stamina nor my diary commitments will allow it.  Plus, I have to swim early in the day (5 or 6-ish) before our B&B guests use the pool. A very dear cousin died in a diabetic coma, leaving a young daughter. And several cousins, my son-in-law, and a great friend all have diabetes. So it seemed appropriate, if barmy, to do this.

It’s killing me! I can’t do my favourite stroke – back crawl – as nowadays when I tip my head back I go dizzy. (Must get that sorted.) So I’m having to do breast stroke (hate front crawl and honestly couldn’t sustain it for a mile) – was still dizzy towards the end of training this morning. It’s certainly a challenge for me… though I managed 1.5 miles this morning in the time it’s been taking me to do a mile. And when I started swimming, 10 lengths was a major achievement. So maybe there IS something in this competition/target/PB (oh yes, I know the jargon) stuff after all…

 

“As a child, I was often regaled with tales of coming second to ‘The Great Jim Peters’. Meant nothing to me until Rory saw a newspaper cutting and told me how impressed I should have been at the North of England champion.

    Dad had been determined to encourage me to follow in his footsteps. ‘On your marks’, ‘get set’ and then on ‘go’ he would time me running around the block, along Northway, up Cleaswell Hill – red door, green door, blue door, yellow door, red door – along Broadway past his brother’s wet fish shop, and down School Avenue – red door, green door, blue door, yellow door – these were the days before the council gave residents a choice. My little body told me it was a marathon but it was probably all of half a mile. Although I had learned how to cut through two gardens (so no doubt he thought my time was improving), I still reneged one day.

‘Go!’

I stopped staring at the paving stones chalked for hop-scotch – much more preferable – and raised myself to my full height, lifting my shoulders to my chin.

‘Why? I can walk instead.’

I believe I was all of five at the time. One gene which obviously stalled at the starting line for me, and you can be damned sure that if you ever see me running, there is someone chasing me. Though sport did play a significant role in my life later and probably introduced me to the voluntary sector. Rather than play hockey on Hunter’s Moor in Newcastle, with a North Sea wind grating my bare legs, I always volunteered to clean out the school games cupboard. Never understood the appeal of any sport with a tiny ball and a disproportionately large expanse of land. That therefore includes golf and cricket.”

Extract from ‘In Sickness and in Health’

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