Sprint to the finish (Happy New Year)


Here’s Mr Fairy earlier on today, leading me up another steep trudge on the last day of the year. Can you see him? He’s the one in the man-tights, gracefully hopping up the top flight. As usual, I’m several paces behind, watching him pound the steps two at a time. I trot up like an old dog with gammy legs, grateful I don’t have a rear view of myself.

We differ in so many ways, us two running partners. As a couple we are two controllers living in a state of constant yin-yang counterbalance. I suggest and he weighs up. He presents, I waver. He says blue, I prefer orange. He has 5:30 in mind, I’ll go right ahead and book for 4:45.

Now and then we reach an easy conclusion, and when that happens it’s reassuring and warming, but mainly we plot a course through a never-ending map of diplomacy and debate, forever kept on our toes. Somehow, it always works.

There is one area, however, in which I always take a backseat and allow Mr Fairy to lead, and that’s when it comes to Fitness. He’s my trainer and personal health counsellor, running backwards in front of me, stopping when I need to stop, guiding me up the shorter route with the bigger hill, skipping along just ahead doing Ministry of Silly Running steps to make me laugh, then dropping me at our front door and giving a little wave as he lopes off on his longer route, leaving me collapsed in a heap on the mat, fiddling with key, iPod, running tracker, general peripheral vision, breathing.

He is the half-full to my half-empty, in fact this image of him steadfastly ploughing along a dank railway in the grey morning of 31 December 2018 is typical of the 12 months preceding – a lone runner cutting positive and confident steps into one super-high grey cliff-face of a year. That’s him all over, that is.

I expect the year ahead to be slightly easier, and we’re both very much ready for 2019 on lots of levels, not least with the running and all that. I have a brand new Fitbit that’s locked and loaded, set to nudge me off the sofa every hour with a polite but insistent buzz on the wrist. That’s about as ready as I’ll ever be when it comes to fitness, and if I’m busy writing when it bleeps at me through 2019, I have already decided to ignore it, favouring words over feet.

Tonight, for the first time in years, we are staying in on New Year’s Eve, avoiding all talk of cliff faces and steep steps in favour of a pint of Baileys and the telly. I might do a spot of writing (personal, not work). I might not. I will definitely ignore any wrist buzzing. Tomorrow we’ll do another lopsided run, then drive to Grandpa for a little visit, then spend the afternoon on the sofa, Fitbit on a high shelf.

That’s us. Happy New Year to you all – near and far, with or without, better or worse, running or sitting, cosy on a sofa, lying on a beach, halfway up a track, trekking through a jungle, standing in a kitchen, waiting in a queue, dashing for a Tube, halfway up a mountain, wherever you are.

PS just after this picture was taken we had a bit of a debate over direction, which ended with me forgetting to look and sliding to a halt knees down. Mr F said I grabbed wildly for his leg as I went over, while I remember it more as a graceful glide to the floor. We both saw the funny side, luckily.