A week after my birthday and the veteran insults just keep on coming.
Whilst one of my club mates now puts vet 35 after my name on all Facebook correspondence, another points out that I’m half way to 70.
So, to celebrate becoming a veteran runner, I decided to spend the day re-living my youth at Lightwater Valley theme park. On any other birthday we’d head to the coast for fish and chips and to browse the second-hand bookshops, but this was a veteran birthday. This was different.
I always loved a rollercoaster in my teens; it was bound to be fun.
‘We’ll start with the swings,’ I said when we arrived. ‘Just to warm up.’
I was clearly underestimating the advancements that have been made in engineering since my last visit in 1995. The swings now spin and tilt so much I was almost hanging upside down, trying desperately not to lose my flip flops and sunglasses. Five minutes later we staggered off. ‘They’ve changed a bit,’ I said. ‘I’ll have to sit down.’
After that it was the Ultimate where, apart from a few teachers accompanying kids on school trips, we were the oldest people in the queue. Next up was the Pirate Ship (not the one that goes all the way round, that looked far too dangerous), then the Twister, the Swan Lake pedal boats, the Lightwater wheel, the carousel. Then, my favourite part of the day, an ice cream and a sit down before our last ride, the Raptor Attack.
I screamed. I shouted. I held on so tight my knuckles turned white. Chris, in comparison, loved the fast rides. ‘As long as they go in one direction,’ he said. ‘I’m okay.’ The Whirlwind was a no go; too much twisting.
We may have been battered and bruised, but we felt young again. And the V word had not been mentioned once.
Until, on the way home, I checked my phone. More text messages from my club mates.
‘Best wishes super vet!’
‘Happy Birthday. You’re officially a veteran.’
And the last one, my favourite. ‘Are you a Vet 40 now?’