ON a few occasions when I’ve been out running I’ve been mistaken for a man. The last time was back in February. As I passed an old chap on his mobility scooter, he shouted, ‘Go on, lad!’
‘Thank you,’ I said in the most unmanly voice I could manage.
The man jumped. ‘Sorry, love. I thought you were a man.’
‘It’s okay.’ I said. And I sincerely meant it. I mean, under the cover of darkness, when someone just short of six-foot approaches you from behind, well, it’s an easy mistake to make. Plus he was an oldish chap, so I felt a bit sorry for him.
But then, he turned to me. ‘It’s because you’re so BIG,’ he said and as he spoke, he moved his arms wide apart not vertically, but horizontally. I’d had enough. I sprinted on, chuntering that he ought to get himself to Specsavers and stop insulting innocent people as they go about their evening run.
A man! In terms of insults I didn’t think it could get much worse than that, but last night, it did. The love of my life, the man I am going to marry and spend the rest of my life with, mistook me for a horse.
It was six o’clock when I went running. The light was fading and I put on my high visibility jacket to be safe, be seen, and all that. Chris was also going for a run, but he was still faffing getting ready. ‘I’m off,’ I said. ‘Where are you running? I might meet you on route.’
‘The trail,’ Chris said. ‘I’m hoping to get to Newmillerdam before it gets dark.’
‘I’ll run there too,’ I said, but then I turned and noticed the darkness. ‘Actually, no. I’ll stick to the road.’ And off I went.
Half a mile into my run, I began to change my mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to do a final run on the trail before the winter darkness restricts me to the road? I turned right, and hit the trail.
I did ten minutes at 6.59 pace, which felt fine, but when I eased off, my lungs contracted. Breathing became difficult. I looked around. In just ten minutes, darkness had descended, and there I was in the middle of the woods, having an asthma attack.
I turned round and started running back the way I’d come. I settled for 7.30 pace to get my breathing under control. Up ahead I could see the silhouettes of a man and woman walking a dog. At least if I collapsed, someone was around to help. I focused on reaching them, putting one foot in front of the other.
Then just beyond them, in the distance, coming through the darkness there was a flash of orange and blue. Chris.
I did a silent cheer and kept moving. I was just to the side of the man and woman with the dog, when Chris veered right and started running up into the top part of the woods. Away from me!
‘Chris!’ I shouted as loud as I could, but my lungs had packed in and I was breathing from my throat. Chris kept running, oblivious to everything around him. I took a deep breath, shouted his name. ‘CHRIS.’
He stopped and turned. ‘Liz?’
And then he set off laughing. ‘I thought you were a horse.’
At this point, I regained control of my breathing, found my voice again. ‘What do you mean, you thought I was a horse?’
Chris pointed to my jacket, and then to the dog walkers. ‘I could see them and the jacket,’ he said. From a distance, it looked like a horse.’
I stared at him. ‘A horse?’
‘Yes. A horse.’
‘You need to get your eyes tested,’ I said.
‘Neigh,’ Chris said.