This isn’t a post about health or fitness. It’s about peer pressure, pain and humiliation.
The back story
Our company decided to participate in the 5km work relay in Dublin last week. Basically there are five members on a team running 1km in a relay. I obviously didn’t volunteer because I’m not fit. At all. Anyway two teams signed up but coming up to the race the volunteers dwindled until there was only one team of five left. One being my boss. On Wednesday, the night before the race he text me, saying that he couldn’t do it because he had loads to do before his holiday the next day. He asked could I do it, that I could walk it. I said no because I wasn’t fit enough. It’s not about running or walking etc, it’s a race. You’re under pressure for time. But he said there was no one else and that if I didn’t the team would have to pull out. I know I should have stood up but I said yes, OK.
The day of the race
While in work I tried to get the message across that I wasn’t fit and had to walk the 1km. I was reassured that the others were going to walk it too, they weren’t fit. Bullshit. I knew they were fitter. Not just by their physiques but because I was told they do jogging. I asked my boss for his sponsorship card (he hadn’t bothered to get a single signature). If I had to do this I was going to make sure it was worth it. Anyway, we head to the Phoenix Park, where you had to park and walk to the race. I couldn’t moan about this because having to walk was the only thing that stopped IT guy from coming to ‘cheer’ us on. I actually would have died if he did. Only about five minutes and running late I tried to jog a little to get there. After one minute (told you I’m unfit) I had to stop and walk. My breathing was already heavy and my calves started to hurt. I worried I just hindered my performance.
When I got there, A had already gone. We stood around waiting and after ten minutes we started to question it. Then the announcer mentioned 5km. We looked at each other. “Does he mean 5km each?” People around us began to say it too. Yes he did. And that’s how 1km turns into 5km. I started to panic. I couldn’t do 5. I barely had faith in myself to walk or jog 1km. I told them I couldn’t do it but they kept saying I’d be fine. I know they were trying to reassure me but they clearly didn’t hear what I was trying to tell them. All I could think is that I won’t be fine when I’m collapsed on the tarmac. I thought about just refusing to do it. But a lot of people sponsored me to do it. Because 5km would take a lot longer to do B told me to go at the same time as her. “It’s grand we’ll walk it” As soon as we started she jogged and I tried to keep up but after a couple of minutes I told her to go on.
Again, my legs started to hurt and my breathing got heavier. OK, so I know I’m unfit but I also have a problem where I can’t breath through my nose. I don’t know if this stops me from being able to jog or get even a little fitter but I’m sure it doesn’t help. I thought about just getting to 1km. That’s all people sponsored me for. It’s all I had to do. But as I approached the 1km mark there were loads of people behind me and I didn’t want to turn around and feel humiliated. So I kept going.
An extra 4km
I told myself to just keep going. I walked it. If I kept walking I’d eventually get there. Hopefully by the time the rest of the team finished too. I sang to myself. Thought about writing this post and what I would say. What I’d love to text my boss. None of it helped a great deal. My chest tightened. I felt like crying a couple of times. Not even from pain, but the awkwardness and embarrassment. After 2km a blister formed on the sole of my right foot so I had to lean to the side. This just made my ankle hurt and I felt the strain go up my leg. Everyone, and I mean everyone,jogged it. I was literally the only one walking it. I jogged twice more, once up a hill because I didn’t think I’d make it otherwise. And when I approached the finish line. So yes, I made it. My heart felt a little lighter every time I saw the signs. 1..2..3..4.. When I saw that finish line I was so happy. Happy to finally be over that hell but happy with myself for completing it. I made it. In 45 minutes but I didn’t care.
E went last and ran it in 21 minutes. Not fit my arse.
Yes I felt great after. The adrenaline was still there. It was the next morning, when I woke and everywhere hurt. I went into the office and everyone told me how great I was for doing it. They asked how I was and when I said “I’m in bits” they laughed and I laughed because that was less embarrassing than telling them that my ankle hurt because of the blister, my back and bum hurt, that I almost cried three times because I was too afraid to say no to doing it for fear that people would think bad of me.
They asked if I would do it again, did I find a new thing. No. Plain and simple. I did not have an epiphany where I realised my life was missing this all these years. The only good thing to come out of this is that my boss now owes me a favour and that I raised €140 for charity.
P.S If you are a fitness blogger or runner, I admire you. But please don’t comment saying how great you feel afterwards, etc. You know what, comment saying how shitty your first race was. How much you hurt. Us lazy people appreciate the honesty and realism of it.