Well, that’s just typical…


I found myself with a couple of hours to spare, and it had been ages since I’d last had a proper long slow run. This was going to be lovely. The only problem was, as this was an impromptu run, I only had a ramshackle assortment of odds and ends in the way of running kit.

I managed to find just enough to prevent me from getting arrested, but as I looked at my outfit, I couldn’t help feeling a bit apprehensive. It consisted of:

  • New t-shirt, never worn before.
  • New shoes, never worn before.
  • Shorts which I had worn before. Many times, in fact. Unfortunately, they were my teensy tiny little race shorts, and tended to invite all manner of chafing after a couple of miles. On a long run, there was a very good chance I’d catch fire.

So, in summary, this run was likely to end with me being more blister than man. Luckily, I had a little tin of vaseline in my bag, so I set about liberally lubricating everywhere I could (which admittedly didn’t take long, as I’m 50% hobbit on my Dad’s side). But I wasn’t out of the woods yet, and another problem reared its head just as I parked my car and got ready to start my lakeside run: Keys. These shorts didn’t have a pocket, so where could I stash my car key? You couldn’t blame the manufacturer; even a tiny coin/key pocket would have doubled the amount of material needed. In an uncharacteristic flash of ingenuity, I realised I could just tie the key to the little cords at the front of my shorts, and then tuck it all down the front.

I set off, feeling slightly smug at the way I’d triumphed over adversity. I was exactly like Nelson Mandela.

It was a lovely run too. Despite my recent lack of mileage, my legs felt relaxed as they turned over, and my breathing came easy. It was almost effortless. The only thing casting ripples on the tranquil lake of my mind was the presence of the car key. Like every runner in the world, I suffer from key-loss anxiety during any long run; the consequences of losing my keys at some point and having to retrace my steps was never far from my mind. My way of countering this anxiety was to reassuringly brush my hand across the front of my shorts every couple of minutes to check it was still there.

At this point in the story, you may be surprised to hear that it doesn’t end with me being put on some sort of register or being chased by an angry netball team.

What did happen was equally mortifying.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d tied the knot after liberally coating my hands with vaseline, or perhaps it was just because the universe hates me and wants to watch me suffer. Whatever the reason, I could only react in slow-motion horror as I felt my car key suddenly come loose from the cord and make a bid for freedom. It took the quickest route out of its tiny-shorts-prison and flew down the right leg. I was always rubbish at football when I was at school, but Pele himself would have envied the way I clipped the car key with the top of foot and unwittingly volleyed it away in a long, graceful arc. I watched helplessly as (because this is me) my key sailed away from me and landed with a quiet rustle in quite possibly the biggest patch of nettles and thorns mankind has ever seen.

Thigh high nettles and thorns, I might add.

Hey, short shorts are fun, aren’t they? Good old short shorts.

What followed next can only be described as hellish. Hellish and very,  very sweary. Armed with a state-of-the-art anti-nettle stick, I set about thrashing my way into the undergrowth like a potty-mouthed shortarse jungle explorer. I learned an important lesson that day, and that lesson is: it’s actually quite difficult to spot a small black key in the shadowy depths of what might as well be the Amazon rainforest. I silently vowed that, if I did ever find it, I’d forevermore keep my key tied to a high-viz space hopper. Or tethered to a parrot; that might work. (“Where are my $%&£ing keys???” “SQUAWK! WE’RE UNDER THIS RHODODENDRON!”)

As daylight started to fade, I considered my options, but the only one that really seemed viable was to cut my losses, forget I’d ever owned a car, and just live out the remainder of my life as a badger. However, just as I was about to paint myself stripy and start snuffling for berries, I was saved. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the faintest glint, and I must have been borrowing someone else’s luck because there it was: my key, nestled innocently in a grassy nook.

I picked up my key, finished my run, and vowed never EVER to do anything quite so stupid ever again. 

Yeah, right.

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6 thoughts on “Well, that’s just typical…

    • Knowing my luck, if I’d popped the key down the back of my shorts rather than the front, this anecdote would’ve featured a whole lot more A&E doctors, all tutting and shaking their heads. A narrow escape there.

  1. I have a caribiner on my car key which makes it easy to take off my other humungous bunch of keys and then firmly affix to my bra. So ideally, you need to become a girl. With boobs.

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