“I’m just going to buy a coffee – please stay in the shallow end until I get back, okay? I’ll be two minutes.”
Mini-Me stared at me.
“I can swim, you know..,” she muttered as she disappeared under the water to do another handstand.
‘I know, sweetie, it’s not really you I’m concerned about,’ I thought to myself, not having the heart to explain to her that when she did her synchronized swimming in the deep end, it really looked like she was drowning. I’d hate to make another mother feel obliged to disturb her sunbathing and get off her lounger to save her.
Mini-Me is very serious about swimming, and particularly her new found interest in synchronized swimming. Having avidly viewed, followed and been to the Olympics this summer, and clearly fulfilling the London 2012 slogan ‘Inspire a Generation’, her latest ambition is to be an Olympic synchronized swimmer. An ambition which merely makes her father, The Doctor, raise his eyebrows and nod sagely. He has very particular views about what activities can be defined as a ‘sport’ and, for him, synchronized swimming is most definitely in the same category as Pilates and hot air ballooning. Mini-Me spends her time writing out routines in her TeamGB notebook and practising them on dry land, before attempting her artistry in the pool. On this afternoon, having made a sniffy comment about it not being her fault that she has no siblings, she had befriended a couple of girls in the pool, after my observation that whilst I liked what she was doing, the ‘synchronized’ part of the event was somewhat lacking.
The Olympic Games have had the same effect as New Year’s Eve here. Everyone seems to be gearing up to take on a new challenge and do something sporty. The most recent edition of the local ‘lifestyle’ magazine which is delivered free to my house is full of adverts and deals for classes, gym membership and sporting events. And I’m looking at a future of having to sew sequins onto swimsuits and investing in copious amounts of waterproof hair gel.
Last Sunday afternoon, The Doctor had come to visit Mini-Me and had taken her into town to pick up a dinner suit he’d ordered for a ball he is going to in Vienna, and they were then going to go to their favourite cheese shop for a little tasting. So I spent the afternoon in the garage in a huff, trying to sort out the piles of winter shoes, boots and general mess that was starting to get on my nerves, and muttering about the ridiculousness of my eight year old having a ‘favourite’ cheese shop. I was only envious – she does some really cool things with her father. He’s great with her. I, on the other hand, take her with me to the grocery store, on the way barking multiplication sums at her, before coming home and getting her to help me sort the laundry.
My grumpiness was short-lived, however as Frasier and Niles arrived back with a bag of cheese and some red wine for me. A tactical move by The Doctor as, moments before, I had discovered his road bike in the garage and in my less-than-reasonable mood, had been ready to wrap it round the lamp post outside. The fact that his bicycle is in my garage is not something I can really protest about, though. It’s my fault it’s there. I organised my move back to England and, for some reason, his bike ended up coming with me.
“Erm..What’s the plan with this bike, then?” I said, nicely.
“I’ll get it shipped to Jo’burg as soon as I can”, The Doctor replied – that not being as random as it sounds, as he is actually in the process of moving from Vienna to South Africa.
“I’ll want it there, because I’m going to do the Cape Argus bike ride,” he said, following this with the words, in a deliberately nerdy voice, pulling a face, “It’s my Olympic Resolution!”
Rather than questioning whether he had already bought a Kevlar cycling outfit in preparation for his training around the notoriously dangerous city of Johannesburg, I said I was impressed and that I felt I should do something, too, and should embrace the momentum provided by the Olympics to step up my efforts for a running event I have entered in October. So far, my preparations have entailed spending a fair amount of time on the website of the clothing company, Lulu Lemon, to decide what I am going to wear for the race and also figuring out how long it will take me to save up for a pair of fabulously bright pink and orange Asics trainers that I have had my eye on for a while. Needless to say, any actual physical training for the event has been limited.
The event in question is a 10k race, to be held in the grounds of Holkham Hall, Norfolk. My mother is involved in organising it, as a fund-raising endeavour for a charitable trust she does a lot of work for, hence my interest in running it. A few members of my family are entering and we are, to say the least, all a little competitive, so whilst I’ve been busy getting my running wardrobe in order, rather than actually doing something useful and pounding the streets, I have also been in contact with my sisters-in-law to check out how they’re getting on. One of them admitted to going for a training run and having to stop to ‘cough up a lung’. Even with the allowance for her exaggeration, I’m feeling slightly more reassured that I’m hopefully not going to be reaching the finish too embarrassingly long behind her.
The charitable trust is Heritage House – a day care centre for elderly and frail members of the community in Wells-next-the-Sea. They are provided with transport to get there and back from their homes, hot meals, even hairdressing services; but most of all, they find companionship and company for a few hours in what otherwise may be a very lonely day.
So, if you’re looking to fulfill your Olympic Resolution, please consider entering either the 10k or the 5k event. Sunday October 21st, Holkham Park. You can do this via http://www.4shore.uk.com or through the website of Heritage House (http://www.heritagehousewells.org.uk). Heck, I’ll even drive you there! Just don’t cough up a lung or try and out-do my sneakers.