July 21, 2013
Long before I became Mummy Ju to Baby Rose back in January this year I actually had a very different type of job, a full time job which was equally as time consuming, stressful and demanding, but for completely different reasons.
I spent the last 8 jammed packed years working towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a number of roles I spent my time organising 2012 projects, dealing with operational plans for gamestime and basically trying to motivate local people to get involved with the games in some way, either by volunteering, or taking up a new sport.
I worked with teenagers looking at something called “The Masterplan” which set out the predicted use of the Olympic Park for the next 10 years, I worked with 100 pensioners on a project called the “Golden Years Dance Troupe” and I coordinated the safe (but really exciting) passage of the Olympic Torch through the London borough of Redbridge at 7am in the morning no less (you try getting 30,000 people out of their beds at 6.30am on a Sunday morning to see someone they don’t know running with a cone shaped lantern). Basically I worked bloody hard, and took a lot of stick from people who were not so keen on the games, often pulling my hair out in frustration at the people who just didn’t get it.
Looking back now I realise I was in a really privileged position to be privy to so much games related inside knowledge, and I got to meet lots of interesting people, including some celebrities (Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Kelly Holmes to name a few), I also got to see the venues before they were officially opened – and as someone who literally lives a hop skip and jump from the stadium that was fab.
So its not hard to tell I am kind of a pro Olympics kinda person, regardless of how much it has cost our nation or how much disruption it caused in the lead up (I still have no where to park my car in Stratford), but in my opinion the pro’s far outweight the con’s…and the pro’s keep on coming. West Ham United FC are moving across the road to me for example (come on you Irons), also a few weeks ago I was dancing in the glorious sunshine to Mumford and Sons at a concert, a concert which would never have come to Stratford pre 2012, and today, well today I went back to the stadium.
Now I never managed to get tickets to see any of the athletics action during the games, but I have been in the stadium, three times now.The first time was Xmas 2011 and David Cameron was switching on the Xmas lights, Xmas lights that didn’t actually go on when he flicked the switch. The second time I got a ballot place for the National Lottery Olympic Park Run where 5000 people got the chance to run a 5 mile race before anyone else got to see the park in all its glory, my sister came along with my nephew to cheer me on, and today she was in the stadium with me, running the “Back to the Stadium” race with me. I had inspired my sister to run..and that is no easy feat.
Now let me break this down for you. Jennie doesn’t run…she’s more of a dancer you see (sometimes on tables but sometimes not, and often under the influence), so you are more likely to find her doing an aerobics class if she had to do structured exercise. But after seeing me run in the stadium last year on a whim she signed up herself, and if truth be known I didn’t think she would make the start line.
Jennie actually lives 2 minutes from the athletics track where I attend a weekly track session organised by my running club (The East London Runners), so she started coming along with me…well actually she came to 3 sessions, one of which she slopped off early. So she hadn’t really done much training, she also had a rather boozy staff do on Friday to mark the last day of term…so hydrated she was not either…and for some strange reason she decided not to have breakfast – this was a disaster waiting to happen surely.
The forecast for today was 29 degrees and sunshine, but actually it was very overcast until about midday by which time we had finished our run, (thankfully) but nevertheless it was very humid, even at 9am. As we waited in the white pen for the race to start the nerves started to kick in and it made me think back to how I used to feel when I first started running, so many things I take for granted now that she was experiencing for the first time.
We agreed to stick together..which I was a little dubious about. She has a faster pace than me, I have more stamina…but she is bloody competative…so how exactly was this gonna work? After a brief warm up, a few speeches and finding out my sister had no idea who Victoria Pendleton was, we were off and everyone was running at speed. The first mile was very tight so there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on…and as people overtook me I had a number of pats on the backs and hellos, some from people I knew, but many from people I didn’t (blog followers perhaps, or maybe just the fattymustrun slogan written on my t-shirt). It was really difficult staying together with Jen and she kept dropping back for me to catch her.
The route was pretty much a building site, and not as interesting as last years, or maybe I am getting just a little blase’ but as we got to the Velodrome Jen was once again waiting for me to catch up, so I said “Run ahead if you want Jen” but she said she didn’t want to and was struggling a bit with the heat. I was ok, it was tough but I kept plodding, getting tons of support from the other runners…I had one man tap me on my shoulder and say “this time last year I was 4 stone heavier, so if I can do it so can you” and another man who simply asked “Where’s Fatty?”which I thought was quite sweet.
I think Jen underestimated how far 5 miles was, and had a few wobbles in the middle of the course, she kept saying “Gosh, we’re only at 2 miles” “Only at 3 mile” etc etc, she even asked if the timing chip would know if we crossed the road to the other side where the runners were on their way back, cutting out about a mile…I told her that was hardly the spirit.
At about mile 3 there was a shower arch which was very much welcomed, the gradual hills up and over, and back up and over were less so, but a bit of Take That played out of a tiny speaker system seemed to do the trick and got us both running again.With less than a mile to go to the stadium Jennie was now getting a little excited, well nervous too I reckon, her two boys were in the stadium and she wanted to be able to run properly and do them proud. But there was about 600 meters in the under passages of the stadium to navigate first with “Chariots of Fire” playing as a suitable soundtrack…and then we were on the track, running at a reasonable pace and trying to locate the boys. We finally did and gave them a wave and then we were off again…we had already agreed that at 100 meters to go it was every woman for herself, and Jennie sprinted off, beating me by 2 seconds in the end. I finished in 1 hour 1 minute and 14 seconds, a full 8 minutes slower than last year.
But do you know what, the time didn’t matter…todays race was about running with my sister and I am incredibly proud of her for getting to the start line and for seeing it through.
Finally, in terms of Olympic Legacy….I have so many examples of how the games have inspired ordinary people, and the venues that are remaining in the park are an amazing asset for London, particularly East London. I would have challenged the biggest of skeptics to sit in that stadium today and not be inspired. As we sat eating our post run banana and listening to girl group “Little Mix” we saw hundreds of people fulfilling a life’s dream, individuals of all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds, runners lapping up the one and only time they are likely to run in such a venue, sprinting full welly the last 300 meters, most people on 2 legs, some on 1, some using wheels to help them round, and even one grown man in a nappy (what is that about??).
I had a fab morning..and here’s to running it next year. My nephew Dylan, aged 13 has asked if he can do it next year, so hopefully there will be 3 of us at the start line in 12 months time.
Did you see me today? If so give us a shout!!!
- Paula Radcliffe to compete at Olympic Stadium event (itv.com)
- It Could Be YOU!!! (thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com)
- Name Dropping (thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com)
- When being overweight can work to your advantage (thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com)
- Smile for the Cameras (thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com)