I ignored the Runkeeper schedule in favour of running either to or from work on Tuesday and Thursday. I loved it. Basically, excellent. The one flaw in my plan was on Thursday’s run home, when due to a clerical laundry error, I had to run dressed like this:
I’m so sorry to anyone on Tower Bridge or in Burgess Park whom I may have caused serious visual harm.
Significantly less excellent was my five miles on Saturday. I had got rather carried away on the Silver Bullets the night before, and managed one single mile on Saturday before crawling on to the bus home. The bus driver must have known I was sick and bailing, because despite my being clad entirely in pink, he shut the doors while I was in the doors. I eventually got off the bus and jog-limped home feeling very sorry for myself-slash-violently sick.
“No booze this weekend,” I told myself.
“We’re trying out C’s wedding food and wines tonight,” H’s mother said, five hours later in Oxfordshire.
How can you not?
This was completely delicious and taught me some measure of restraint due to the tasting being conducted with the most beautiful little Victorian wine glasses. Remind me to hunt for some on eBay instead of just browsing for Topshop Tall Baxters.
The next morning I went off to do 10 miles, and thanked the heavens it was only 10. I can’t wait until this training is over, mostly because it’s so anti-social to have to schlep to bed early, and then to go off running. Luckily nobody was around at 8am other than H, who very kindly hunted me down the ibuprofen and Vaseline that I’d hungoverly forgotten to pack for my feet, so I sneaked off.
H and his father had marked me out the most sublime route, keeping me away from main roads and, it turns out, giving me lots of mouthwatering property porn to look at, as well as the odd sheep and cheerful-looking cow.
I was very lucky with the weather, which was perfect Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, not too windy or sunny. I was also trying out something new: I’d tried running with an audiobook in January, when I got so bored of my music playlist – except Ave Maria from Sister Act. I could never get bored of you – but I kept zoning out and not concentrating. The Invention of Wings: you are brilliant, but too dramatic, oddly, to hold my attention. One for the page.
A Twitter friend who works for Audible asked if I’d like to try running with some new books, as they are interested in audiobook-running. Frankly, he had me at “New Books”, so I spent my short runs listening to my first David Sedaris (brilliant, as you all knew) and Sunday listening to Mindy Kaling, who I LOVE from her show The Mindy Project. Comedy is definitely the way forward. I didn’t zone out at all, and as a result felt much happier running and less time fretting about getting bored and “Oh, maybe I should walk for a bit to mix things up” as so often happens otherwise.
This sign was one of my favourite bits of the run, and took me quite by surprise 7 miles in. I knew we were near Lechlade, where my paternal grandpa lived until the late 90s. I hadn’t been back since, and this, and some incredibly familiar-style golden cottages made me catch my breath. Not just for Grandpa, but for a whole time that suddenly felt as though it had been sitting here in a bubble for years.
The run ended, and I hung out casually in a barn until H came and picked me up. Like a boss.
The casual hanging out in a barn brought on flu. Goodbye Tuesday and Thursday runs, hello hanging out with my cat.
By Wednesday, I had regressed to just singing words at my cat, while she fell asleep to try and curtail the embarrassment of this whole scenario. Also by Wednesday, I had given up alcohol for Lent, both to stave off hungover run fails and in the knowledge that Easter falls the weekend after the marathon, which is fairly good timing and means I won’t be sans fizzy booze for too long.
Flu aside, my vow to be screamingly, unrelentingly positive about running has been made exponentially easier by amazingly breaking the £1,000 barrier in my sponsorship this week – a serious and heartfelt thank you to you, my mega buddies – and the sudden increase in sun.
Any doubt that my mood might be linked to the weather disappeared completely when I left work on Friday and practically flew home on a wingèd chariot of joy, more prosaically known as the 42 bus to Camberwell. I LOVE this weather. And in turn, running becomes a real pleasure – the feel of the sun on your skin, the blossom in the park, a seemingly endless stream of cute dogs, children and yet more dogs. It’s all wonderful.
I felt better enough on Saturday to go for a run round Brockwell. It was an absolutely stunning morning for it; blossoms and babies and bat-dogs everywhere, and I ran to the park, round and back, picking up an organic baguette en route and running home with it under my arm, presumably sending the Brixton Anti-Gentrification Movement into paroxysms of horror.
Next morning, I had a 16-mile long run, which was sliced and sandwiched into the Anthony Nolan Marrowthon 10k (read about that here) which I ran with a bunch of friends and former Empire Magazine colleagues. I have never felt more out of puff running a 10k in my life – or at least since I ran one in 2008 with no training, a 15-a-day cigarette habit, and in Primark high-waisted shorts. And then I had to run five miles home again! The thrills NEVER END.
By the time I got home with my 16 miles in the can, I was shaky, wobbly and genuinely worried about how the hell I was going to do another 10.2 on top of that in just over a month. Logging on to the Mind marathon runners Facebook page, the first post I saw was from someone asking that exact question – thank God.
I then checked my emails and saw my parents had given me two frankly amazing donations, one as a running joke from our days listening to Round The Horne tapes on long car journeys, and the other as my cat and their dog. And then I burst into tears, had a bath, spoke to my mum on my phone and went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel and the rest is as normal.
Exactly one month until the Stupid Run. Hold me. *Puts head between knees and hyperventilates*