Friday, 11 April 2014

The Story of the Flying Ice Cream

Training for a marathon is gruelling, testing, punishing, painful and later on, rewarding, triumphant, moving and life-changing, but upon reflection, and amid all the loaded, poignant emotions, it’s easy to forget the downright amusing things that can happen while trudging through the world in pursuit of fitness.

One incident that I’ve been dying to share, but somehow never found time to, happened about a month ago, on one of my final long runs ahead of the Brighton Marathon.

It was one of the first warm Sundays of the year and the fine weather had drawn hordes of people to the streets and parks of London -  to such an extent that the latter part of my workout turned into a veritable assault course, around trundling tourists, warbling babies, flocks of shoppers and fellow frustrated athletes.

I was nearing the end of my run, about to turn into my borough, when suddenly, as if having fallen from the heavens,  a perfect scoop of strawberry ice cream came hurtling towards me and planted itself firmly on my sweaty collarbone, narrowly missing my perplexed  face.

Any distance runner will know that towards the end of a long session, your mind can become absent. Often I find myself in nearly meditating as I conquer the final kilometres. Obviously, in any situation, a lump of ice cream landing on you out of the blue would come as a surprise, but in my oblivious and self-involved state, almost hypnotized by the rhythm of my gait and the music from my headphones, I was so stunned, that all I could do was stop dead in my tracks and laugh.

Now there are few things that are funnier than the bewildered look on someone’s face when they’ve unexpectedly had a scoop of ice cream catapulted at them, but one thing that has an edge on that, is if that face happens to be sweaty and as red as a tomato and laughing hysterically in a sort of possessed I’ve-got-no-idea-what’s-going-on-so-all-I-can-do-is-laugh-about-it way.

I would have felt more comfortable had I known someone to share this bizarre joke with, but I was alone in a throng of shoppers, who’d now inevitably labelled me as a madwoman. Mothers were probably tugging at their children’s hands. “Walk on this side of me darling, stay away from that crazy lady.”

A few seconds later I caught the mischievous eye of a young boy in the crowd, with a mix of guilt, amusement and intrigue plastered upon his angelic face and a tell-tale empty cup in one hand, a plastic spoon in the other.

I could tell he was weighing up his options. “Do I run for dear life? Do I apologies profusely?” But a split second later, a cheeky grin curled its way across his lips, quickly transforming into an infectious and face-splitting smirk. I gave him a mock look of disapproval, but with strawberry ice cream now dripping off my chest, I could hardly sustain it for long.

I gave him one last shake of my head, tried to flick a drop or two of the gluey mass in his direction, before resuming my run, a little stickier but certainly more flavoursome than before.

And the moral of the story?

Well as runners, we should always expect the unexpected, and as humans? Perhaps just try to learn to live with whatever life throws at you.

Be it a set-back, a challenge, or a defeat, if you can’t laugh it off, at least wipe it off. And if it makes your hair and skin smell of berries, sugar and cream, then it can’t really be that bad after all, can it? 

(Image courtesy www.sodahead.com)

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