The Pretender

Are you there? Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong only to surrender

Whatever we do in life we all start off with hopes and dreams and aspirations. I wanted to be a train driver or an astronaut but instead was a tie maker, worked in a record shop, a tool maker, repaired home cinema projectors and make high quality preserves and marmalade. Quite a diversity. Did any of this make me happy? Not really. It was never Manchester Piccadilly to Bristol Temple Meads or Cape Canaveral to the Moon. Apart from the record shop, none of these jobs satisfied my insatiable appetite for pushing my boundaries, giving me something at the end of the day to contemplate and take home to further myself. I guess sport was my always that outlet, that reason and purpose to push myself both physically and mentally.

Originally cricket gave me that outlet. At school I was described as a ‘poof’ for playing cricket but I enjoyed my lessons bowling at the ‘cool’ rugby and football players and watching them crap themselves as my medium-fast paced bowling slapped their thighs and, then when batting, launching their bowling onto the 400m athletics track. But, cricket is a team game. It’s based on the one to one battle between batter and bowler but as a team game you can still be let down by other team members who didn’t follow my philosophy as we win and lose as one.

So I ran. I could win or lose by my own efforts alone.

Friday I ran with Ian Booth from Cross up to Crook Peak and back. 6and a half miles. Ian was and still is a very keen cyclist, mountain biker and general outdoor enthusiast, and now runner. A valued Run Leader with Burnham-on-Sea Harriers and a good friend. We always have a great chat. It may be politics, music, just any ideas or thoughts and we are generally on the same page of life’s playbook. Like me, his choices when he left school were very limited but he worked hard and made a great life for himself with lots of great memories. I guess, looking back, I never noticed my opportunities or they were never there to begin with. Thatcherism. My generation were more obsessed with a 3rd Cold World War than any future.

On club run nights, Ian leads a group at around 10.30 min/mile pace and mostly ladies. He has the charisma and the chat and they love him. They are called the Dream Team and they are a great bunch. Recently I’ve had difficulties with my mental well being and Ian has been very supportive in helping me get back to my default setting and to function normally in society again. I can’t thank him enough as well as a couple of other people like Kelly, Tracey B and Georgie DV.

Pretender and surrender? I’ve lived my ambitions through sport rather than work. I was a good footballer, a good cricketer, a good runner but I never realised my potential. Sometimes I was held back and other times I held myself back. Jealousy of others and I was just scared of reaching the next level stopped me. So, Pretender. I’m a social runner now, Surrender.

Saturday was a pottering around day. Frustrations built up and and my only release was to run. I chose my favourite route. Through town to the golf course and follow a foot path along the side and across the golf course onto the beach where I would run back to Burnham-on-Sea town. I would dwell a while at St. Mary’s Church, or ‘Church of the Dunes’, at Berrow. I find the views and silence very relaxing. It’s easy to find my inner peace and control my feelings there. I ran across a fairway and along a trail onto the beach where my headtorch expired and all was dark. Jinkies, I have nearly 3 mile run back, along the beach, and in the absolute dark. This only added to my inner peace. The darkness, solitude, the silence as high tide was hours away. I could see the headtorches of sea fishermen in the distance and the lights of the lighthouse and Burnham growing ever closer. What could have been a freaky run turned into a wonderful, spiritual experience.

Sunday and another challenge, and a virtual race with a race number, a Santa suit and a medal. 2020 Virtual Santa Scramble over Brean Down. I met my co-runners, Kelly and Andrea, at my usual place. Fortunately, They early and I didn’t have to hang around in a Santa suit looking like I was walking home after a Saturday night carousing.

Kelly parked up opposite Brean Village Hall and although it was high tide and after checking with our favourite coastguard, JJ Jacobs, it was safe enough to get onto the beach and run that way to the Down to make the distance up to 10 kilometres. Running along the road is tedious and dangerous, as it’s not that wide. Also, road running wearing trail shoes is painful on the ‘plates of meat’ because they have little or no cushioning.

It was a beautiful chilly December morning and the beach was quite deserted. As I tried telling my accomplices, the beach was perfectly passable and we made our first ascent. Kelly ran all the way and I thought it more chivalrous to keep Andrea company. Along the run to Brean Down Fort and back we met many walkers who were very surprised to see three runners in Father/Mother Christmas regalia. Needless to say it certainly was a conversation starter. Coming back the beach was busier with children staring with wide eyes at us. I might try it again as it could be a great way to meet single, bored mums 🤨. On returning to the car, Kelly rewarded us with a scrumptious slice of lemon drizzle cake and Andrea with delicious German ginger biscuits. My contribution was the curd for the cake, a small yet vital contribution. I washed it down with a sickly Snickers™ protein shake. Time was no objective as it was a beautiful run, on a beautiful morning and with great company.

Maybe I should be more Foo Fighters and less Jackson Browne?

What if I say I’m not like the others?
What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?
You’re the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

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