Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Let it snow

A few years ago I almost completed the swim section of a triathlon in Eton's Olympic Rowing Venue, Dorney Lake , in my bikini. At the 11th hour, a good friend gave me a hefty nudge towards a wetsuit, and I wore it for the first time on event day. It sounds ridiculous looking back, but at the time I had the fact it was (UK) Summer in my mind, and having only swum in the Med before, wearing the aforementioned bikini, I hadn’t given details like water temperature that much thought.  
There are some people who just don’t seem bothered by the prospect of getting cold feet. On Sunday morning, after I had shaken last week’s sand out of my running shoes and prepared to make new tracks in freshly fallen snow, it was the images of those swimmers who brave the Serpentine that got me out there.

Swimmers brace themselves , Hyde Park Serpentine, 2012 (Guardian)

But it was to be another Dorney Lake moment. Unlike the Icelanders with their fashionable hundred, we might only have one word for it, but it certainly wasn’t a synonym for yoga pants. Which presented me with a spot of bother. I have only ever run in yoga pants before. I chose them years ago in Nike in San Francisco. They’re blue, calf length, with a chi chi lace panel at the back of each calf. I chose them because I liked the idea of being a runner, and had read somewhere that it’s good to start with kit.
I’ve run in them extensively, and have since bought several more identical pairs. Which is how I came to discover they are yoga pants, and not really meant for running at all. They’ve always served their purpose beautifully, in every sense. Until the snow.
'Snow joke running through this

It was one of those Sunday mornings that separated the real runners from the yoga pant clad amateurs. Armed with my Dorney Lake hindsight, I defended myself against the cold with fleece beanie hat, tramping socks, ski gloves and hot chocolate. I looked ridiculous, but hey, I did my run, and as I ran, thought about the Merlin doctors, and how improvisation based on past experience must be a huge part of their job. Often working in extreme conditions, such as in war zones, they supply medications and face to face care, they rebuild hospitals, they operate mobile clinics, they train health workers and midwives, they reach remote parts of countries which many other aid agencies don’t access, they educate people about disease and family planning. So I will carry on training for my fundraising marathon in all weathers. And yes, I’m going to upgrade my kit. 

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