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October 2013

The List: Number 45 – Ride in a helicopter

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When Zee + I were talking about The List way last year, he laughed at number 45, and said that he’d much rather FLY a helicopter than just ride around in one. It seemed like a fair call, stepping it up and all that.

So, for his birthday I rather selfishly got him something that would help me with the list – I got us both helicopter lessons.

I won’t lie – I white knuckled the chair in front of me while Zee took his turn. 15 minutes of flying, up along the M1 for a bit, and then across to a little field to try the hover challenge. The thing about being in this helicopter was that it was domed – the glass went below the chair, and you could look straight down and see the ground, a few hundred feet below.

When it was my turn my heart was beating a million miles an hour. It was insane – the helicopter was such a bizarre machine. There was so much going on, peddles at your feet to change the way you rotated, the cyclic (basically a massive joystick) that was super sensitive, any slight movement and the helicopter was already going that way before you could register it was, and the collective, a handbrake like stick that controlled the up an down.

Every time we took a turn, my stomach lurched – it was such a bizarre feeling. Being in the air wasn’t so bad, though. You had time to react if it was going to fall out of the sky. The hover challenge (keeping the helicopter in one place without moving) was interesting, and much harder than I thought (the pilot said I did a better job than Zee, high five!) and novel all the same.

The worst bit was when I didn’t know where to hold. Once the pilot had taken back the controls and had swoooped to male a turn, I panicked when I didn’t know where to hold. I grappled at the door before I realised that was a bad idea, and held onto my legs instead. Awkwardly, though I hadn’t realised it, I’d OPENED THE DOOR while I was grappling. While we were flying. Miles up in the air.

I got such a fright when the pilot asked me to close it.

Still, I flew a helicopter! Very exciting. Zee even took a video of it:

Flying totally trumps riding in a helicopter. I’m calling this one done. High five!

The List: Number 102 – Be able to run 5k in one go, without stopping.

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I’m not a runner. I find it hard, and cumbersome and I have to force myself to go. I don’t have a great technique, and one guy once told me to stop ‘slapping’ my feet on the concrete, and just, running is HARD. However, running is also free. So I run as one of the things I do to feel less pudding like.

For years, I’ve been trying to run, with this magic 5k goal in mind. I vaguely remember trying to run back in New Zealand (in 2010) with Quinn. With the Couch 2 5k podcasts, but I never got past week two.

When I moved to London, I got all pudding like was determined that I’d beat the Heathrow Injection. Spoiler – didn’t really. I did start running regularly with the guys at work, which got me into some kind of habit. I knew I COULD run, which was helpful, even if was not especially graceful about it. I had a route, which was also helpful. And I had people to guilt me into going.

However, when I ran, I’d get to a few random points on the route and just… flake out and walk. I’d pick a landmark, a post, a box, a tree. And once there I’d start running again. Maybe I was running too fast? Perhaps I just lacked the will?

I mostly remember thinking about how hard running was. How my legs hurt, or my lungs or whatever.

I ran when I was training for Kili, and as part of rowing training. Which was hard, because it wasn’t just running, it was running and strength training and all of the things. Because rowing is hard, and you need to be fit to row. Still, I didn’t run like the others did. I never sprinted when our guy said sprint. I was too worried about rolling and ankle, or injury. The closer the climb got, the less running I did.

Fast forward to three months ago, and I started the new job, and I joined the running club. Running two or three times a week. At first we ran 3k, and we ran it slow, with much walking. And then we ran it slower, and ran all the way around. It was good, we got into a rhythm, and started the rule that if you couldn’t hold up your end of the conversation, you were running too fast.

We run around Southbank, across the bridges that span the Thames. It’s nice, pretty views of all the tourist things (Tower Bridge, the Shard, The London Eye, Westminster etc etc). A few weeks ago, instead of turning at Blackfriars, we ran on till Waterloo. We ran slow, and easy.

And surprise, I managed to run around the full 5k circuit. And then I did again a few days later. And then again this week, just to make sure.

It has been on The List for years. And each time I’ve come close, it just hasn’t happened. Now? Now that I know I can run 5k, I do. It’s a mental thing now, a matter of will.

It helps that I have a crew. A group of us who run regularly, and are all at the same level. We’re not flash, or fast, but high five, we can run 5k!

It’s ridiculous, because I know people run marathons. But running is fucking hard, it’s definitely not something that comes naturally, and I am ridiculously pleased with myself that I have finally, managed to run 5k, with no walking breaks.

High five!

The running club, after our first 5k run!

The route, care of run keeper. Ridiculously pleased with myself, did I say?

So yes, Number 102, done!