Taking Bronze at the Singapore Masters’

Every year the Singapore Masters Athletic club organises a track and field competition, and today I took part in the 800 metres. Lining up, I saw that there were only two other people in my age class: did that guarantee I would get on the podium?

My training had been lacklustre, consisting mostly of putting on weight while in California, and not running very much. I did buy a pair of track spikes last December, but I haven’t used them since I broke a toe kicking my bed back in March. So call that even, perhaps.

Today I woke up with a runny nose, and kept sneezing or dripping liquid out of it all day, until I took a strong antihistamine about three. I still didn’t feel great, partly because I’d spent the morning running around after the girls at a birthday party, and partly because I’d been out drinking last night and fine red wine isn’t always fine.

After all this, I got myself to the running track at the over-the-top named Home of Athletics (the running track by the national stadium). I went to find my number. I was told to go to the other end of the track. When I got there they told me to go back to where I started. Was this their attempt to ensure I warmed up correctly? Finally a man appeared without explanation, with my number, and then I had to go back to where I tried to get my number to begin with to get a different number to stick on my shorts. And safety pin on as well, in case the glue wasn’t sticky enough. (No, I don’t know why you wouldn’t just eschew the glue if it wasn’t reliable and book the numbers to your shorts, but never mind.). When I’d got the numbers, and been told off for not getting them earlier (when I’d been following vague instructions to find my number), I attached everything to myself, got told I hadn’t done it quite right, then lined up on the track to take my place.

You have to wear numbers on the front and back of your shirt (and they get angry if your shirt isn’t tucked in property) and so it was then that I could see there were only two other people with the same age category as me. I was in the number 1 position, inside track,following everyone else. I think that’s meant to be the best place.

The race started, and I ran as hard as I could, but having sneezed out half my body weight today/being knackered from life and no sleep meant I didn’t do great. My first lap was a ludicrous 1:11, far faster than anything I’ve attempted in training, but too slow for this lot. On the second lap, my legs and arms felt weak and tired, like I was being dragged backwards as I ran around the track, and my second lap was just a whisker under 1:30. Still, even though I came back in dead last, I did better than the three minutes I’d been hoping to beat.

And, as I realised later on, I had a medal. It may be made of bronze-coloured plastic, and I may have only qualified for it because two of the other under-40 entrants failed to turn up on the day, but a win is a win is a win. And a third place is a third place is a third place.

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