Here we are. The big one. The full-sized Snickers. The London Marathon.
Readers who enjoy pictures of me running with a massive smile on my face will get nothing. This is the grim bit of the inspirational film’s training montage. To put it bluntly, I am utterly terrified about doing a marathon. All my worries have compressed into an exquisite diamond of discomfort. I wonder what on earth possessed me to think I might be capable of the training, let alone the race. Marathon runners are gilded lilies with wingèd trainers and halos of determination. Runners World magazine has gone mental with them. And how the fuck am I going to raise over £1650?
My increasingly dismal mood was put on hold by the 16-week training plan starting (16!). I went with Runkeeper due to my need to have an external force that I can use for stats and a sense of approval.
Week one schedule
Four mile easy run
4 mile easy run
4 mile easy run
8 mile steady run
An amazing start! Wait, the opposite. The massive storms battering Camberwell and the rest of the UK put me off going out until Christmas Eve, at which point I tottered a new, and it turns out, rather dull circuit round Stockwell, Clapham North and Brixton. This run was basically a combination of guilt, disappointment and getting dramatically faster when I was nearly home.
My parents arrived for Christmas, my first one in London since le tout Brown lived here 20+ years ago, and after the loveliest Christmas Eve in ages, during which both parents heroically decided to bond with the cat, I went out for my first Christmas Day run.
I don’t care if the Son of God has arrived, how does ANYONE get up to go running when it’s still dark? I did, and then sat in bed for a bit hoping the Light of the World would brighten up SE5. It did not. Eventually, I headed off to Brockwell Park. It was a bit bloody anticlimactic due to a) no snow b) no reindeer c) having idiotically left my trainers in my parents’ room, thus necessitating bothering them, instead of leaving before they woke up to discover Father Christmas had visited them both for the first time since the 70s. Oh, and then I got back to discover the bloody garden wall had blown over which was a total thrill.
Happily and unsurprisingly, smoked salmon and Champagne in industrial quantities can just about salve anything.
Eight miles. My brother got me a gorgeous Helly Hansen thermal baselayer for Christmas which has the longest sleeves and fits so nicely that I could happily wear it forever, or until banished to a washing machine. This was a lovely scenic route around Dulwich and Herne Hill that repeated the walk I had with my parents on Christmas Day when it seemed that every child under three in south London had been given a scooter. This time round, Dulwich Park was hysterically muddy, and I nearly fell over a spaniel.
I’d tried to dig out some gels, but still can’t remember where I hid them from the cat when she decided to eat her way through some protein bars a nice PR sent over, so I took some leftover Celebrations. Always prepared. Less prepared was my brain – I couldn’t run the whole thing. I can do it during a race, but I have developed a mind block that says “You’re bored now. And a bit shit. Just walk for a bit.”
I’d swapped long and short run around due to a surprise trip to Oxfordshire to stay with my boyfriend’s family. He and his brothers had mapped out four miles for me along the lines of “There is a hill. It’s only quite large.” and despite being incredibly frosty, and involving said hill, this was lovely.
It was a completely ravishing morning – full Narnian frost fields with a brilliant sun just rising enough to glimmer over the fields, and cast a purple glow over everything. The hill was steep but over fairly quickly, and on the way back I passed an extremely disconsolate bunch of teenagers who looked hungover to the eyeballs and were carrying sleeping bags and tents. Nice weather for it.
And then I got home to find a bath had been drawn for me, I realised I’d got through week one, and everything was fabulous. Now about those 15 other weeks…
PS: Cheered up immensely by fact this is my 69th blog post. Full-size Sniggers.
PPS: Obligatory 2013 round-up: got a cat, went to Canada, procrastinated and wrote minimally, panicked about life/universe/self, Elle Talent Competition finalist, fell in love, Christmas. YOU’RE WELCOME.