Tuesday, 8 May 2012

"You Don’t Want To Do That! But Do What You Want..."

I went to Exeter on Saturday. Why? Well, the small matter of a football match between Exeter City F.C. and Sheffield United F.C., thats why … a few weeks back it had the potential to be a celebration for us Blades, but after last week’s home draw versus Stevenage we all knew that was unlikely as it required us to do better than Sheffield Wednesday at home to Wycombe. Given that they were always going to win, our chances of doing better were somewhat negated. And win they did, 2-0. We almost won, but for a last-kick equaliser for a 2-2 draw: as it happens, it didn’t matter (just as well!). Still, kudos to all the United fans that made the trip – mine must have been one of the shortest. Thanks to Auntie Dawn and Uncle Richard for their taxi service from BS20 to EX4!

Yup, they picked me up in their Galaxy with their foster son, who sat on the really back seat – third row, if that makes sense. He asked me to sit next to him and I was delighted to do so: only downside, this made the conversation with D&R on the M5 more of a shouting contest…
…which made my line “Can you keep a secret?” on the way back somewhat flawed, as had we had the windows down half of North Devon might have heard me. Anyway, I told them about this here running thing. Richard’s response was heart-warming:
R: “Is that the one at Endcliffe Park?”
G: “Aye, that’s the one”
R: “Oh, you don’t want to do that Giacu. It’s got all sorts of steep climbs. Natalie did it twice… they've even had complaints about it!”

Now, some context:
1)    I have so much trust in and respect for Richard it’s unreal. This is the guy who suggested I try a 5k whilst on holiday so I did! More in later posts (yes, still working on that one!), but basically I have ended up living where I do because of an off-the-cuff comment he once made. As I was nearing the end of my degree, he said something like: “Oh, you’ll have to move to London to find a job suitable for your degree, won’t you?” I questioned not, I did and now here I am – due West of London;
2)    Natalie is their eldest = my cousin. She used to swim at county level (maybe higher – not sure), training at 6am before school. She has not only run this here 10k but also the Sheffield Half and the London Marathon. She is a natural athlete with a track record of training hard. She is somewhat younger than me. I... have not a lot going for me here.

The conversation then continued with Dawn’s contribution:

D: “Oh, I wouldn’t do it”

before the grand finale:
R: “It’s a great way to get fit though, Giacu. And don’t let what we’ve said put you off: if you want to do it, do it! Ask Nats, she’s the one who did it”

OK… so now I’m having to erase from memory advice by one of the people I trust the most…

… ah well, I should manage. I did exchange texts with Nats and, whilst she backed up her Dad’s comments about its toughness, she was also somewhat more encouraging. Now I had looked at the route, obviously – even before buying my shoes! I just hadn’t appreciated the climb up from Endcliffe Park to Bingham Park and then Forge Dam… I just can’t tell how bad it is from the current site. And it may well be atrocious, with the potential to engender a Gloucester Cheese Rolling-like scenario (my local BBC area is “Points West” – it’s a big deal, is the Gloucester Cheese Rolling). It’s no longer looking like a jolly, standard 10k. So maybe yes, I am mad to go ahead with it. But you know what… those sites are some of the reasons that I love Sheffield as much as I do. I remember the first time I managed to touch the tree with my feet on the old Endcliffe Park swings, the countless times I hopped across the stepping stones, all the searches for old tennis balls behind the Hallamshire tennis club… and much, much more. I can still play the Bingham Park Pitch & Putt in my head and do so most nights, with pit stop at Rounds News for some obscure can of pop on the walk down to Dover Road. Forge Dam, now that was bit more of a treat – fewer memories, but still very good ones.
Only Bramall Lane comes close to those parks in the contest for my favourite parts of Sheffield. So, even if my legs won’t be in any fit state to get me through those ten kilometres, I now have boosted faith in my heart to do so. That’s what happens when you’re a stubborn Northern Son!

Let’s just hope I manage to sign up… Nats told me to do so early because it’s popular, I’ve been trying for weeks but it’s still not open! I did register my interest, of course… you know, keen as I am and all that…

…oh, one last thing before I sign off. On Sunday I went out for a run: managed 5.4km in 34’. Respectable for most, quite simply elating for someone like me who can’t stand running. It’s a decent foundation to build upon between now and the end of September, for sure. I was so elated that I took the one final step in cementing my target, the last row of bricks on the point of no return. Yup, I told my Dad. I texted him:
“Stasera, con le mie scarpe acquistate il 18 aprile, ho corso 5,4km. Senza fermarmi, senza camminare. La strada è lunga: intanto oggi ho stabilito un record personale. Mai corsi 5km. Spero d’arrivare a 10 il 23 settembre. La strada è lunga, la direzione giusta. In settimana rivelerò i dettagli… Grazie, x”

Oh OK then, Ill save you copy/pasting into Google Translate besides, authors transations are always more accurate!
“Tonight, with my shoes bought on April 18, I ran 5.4k. Without stopping, without walking. The road is long; for now I set a personal record. Never ran 5k. Hope to reach 10 on September 23. The road is long, the direction right. Will reveal details during the week… Thanks, x”

Aye, I’ll drop him an e-mail during the week. I’ll send him the link to this load of garbage while I’m at it. So, if tha’s reading this Favver… hey-up! This in’t entirely tha fault, but tha’s not a totally innocent party either…
t worry – hes Italian alright, but he understands Sheffield)

…for now, one sign-off comment: If I had qualms about fundraising for charity before, you can rest assured they’ve gone now. If I’m puffing and panting up that hill, I might as well get some schrapnel for my suffering. Silver can wait till 2013 should I ever get there. Should.

p.s.: you really should check out the cheese race thingy. It defies Darwin’s evolutionary theory like nothing you’ve ever seen. Even on YouTube.


  1. I doubt its the same route it was on '97 but the Sheffield Half had a brute of a hill in it too :-)

  2. Another member of the Motivation Squad!
    I accept hills as an inherent part of any route in Sheffield. I also have this hazy recollection of Richard (uncle, not you) mentioning something about grass banks... hard to tell from the back of the Galaxy. Ah well.