Well, he did it!
In my last blog entry, which to my shame was on 22nd February, I mentioned that my aberrant son was breaking with a lifetime of family tradition and getting himself off the couch, donning actual running shoes and training himself up to a level of physical fitness that would enable him to take part in a half-marathon!
I never thought I would see the day, but last Sunday, there I was witnessing the whole thing in Sheffield!
Linda and I were out in good time on the Sunday morning. The race was due to start at 9.30am and at 9.30am sharp there we were, about a mile outside town, armed with our bright pink noise-making implements, ready to cheer our boy on. We felt a bit lonely.
It seems that everyone else knew that nothing would be happening until 9.45am at the earliest, so they were still sitting in the comfort of their homes drinking tea. Fifteen minutes later, just before we started to see movement on the horizon, the crowds started to gather.
I tried to send subliminal messages to encourage our son to get a move on.
Two, four, six, eight. Come on, Tom. Let’s conjugate!
Eventually we saw the blue flashing lights of the police outriders, and shortly behind them the ‘elite’ runners. An terrifying amount of testosterone on display.
Then the throng started to surge up the road and we began to despair about ever getting a decent photo of our son In his very fetching Sheffield Children’s hospital running gear. There were over 11,000 runners streaming past us. Where was he?
No, that’s not him.
And please don’t let that be him!
Hang on, isn’t that him with the camera strapped to his forehead?
Yep! That’s m’ boy! Number 7830!
Looking good. Only 11.5 miles to go!
From her home in Battersea, our little granddaughter, Martha, who hasn’t actually learned to talk yet, added her own words of encouragement
Time for the parental support team to walk into town and find a coffee shop.
Well before noon I made my way to the finishing line and tried to fight my way through the crowd, so that I could get a picture of No 1 son crossing the line.
There were about four or five rows of people between me and the actual barrier, so I stood on tip-toe for about half an hour hoping that my camera would pick Tom out as he came across the line.
Hundreds of tired runners started to arrive, and eventually the crowd in front of me began to thin out as support teams saw their runners arrive. I finally got to the barrier itself and so could get a clear view of the finishing line. Just in time! Tom was due any minute.
At this point a woman, carrying a huge balloon, also reached the barrier just in front of me. My line of vision to the finishing post was completely blocked. I tried to stand even taller on my aching toes but it was no use. Eventually I asked the women in front of me to ask the woman in front of her to ask the woman in front of her to move her balloon, which she duly did with her apologies. All very nicely done, I thought.
I continued to wait for my heroic son to reach the finishing line. My camera was poised to take the ultimate victory photo of Tom with his finishing time emblazoned on the digital clock in two foot high letters.
The next thing I knew was that my phone was going off in my pocket. It was Linda. She was asking me where I was. “I’m at the finishing line,” I said, “waiting for Tom!”
“He’s with me!” she said. “He came through a few minutes ago!”
The lady with the balloon had robbed me of my photo.
Tom had crossed the line in 2 hours and 13 minutes, seven minutes faster than he had expected! He was still upright! Exhausted but still standing.
More than that, within ten minutes, he was chatting to his friends looking as if he had just had a brisk walk into town.
Proud Mum and Dad disappeared quietly to find themselves a celebratory lunch.