So, following on from where I left off, I entered Autumn 2011 back at square one, but with plenty of time to be ready for the big day. Various things happened over the next few months that gave me a terrible kicking personally, but through it all I managed to keep up the training.
Even moving to New Haw, where joggers seem to be greeted with absolute suspicion and hostility, didn't stop me from pounding the pavements. Even Christmas, a time of year when I traditionally eat and drink until my insides pack up and stop working entirely, didn't derail me. I went for a run the day after Boxing Day! It was horrific. I thought my over-extended abdomen was going bounce in such a way as to either render me infertile or knock my silly face off. But I did it anyway. And I felt great for it.
2012 has seen me reach standards of fitness that I have undoubtedly never before attained. By the beginning of February I was doing 10-mile runs, taking in giant hills, towpaths, tarmac and the occasional roundabout (road, not playground), and I was actually ENJOYING it. Crazy, but hugely satisfying. Everything was going to plan and I was actually looking forward to the big day. My plan was going perfectly. By the end of Feb I'd be doing 15-milers, and by the end of March, just two weeks before the marathon, I'd be doing 20-milers. Perfect.
Then, disaster struck. Towards the end of February I was poleaxed by a bout of flu. I've had flu, or heavy colds, before and they generally keep me out of action for a couple of days, no hassle. You know how it goes: feel shit, lack energy, sleep badly, get better, everything's fine, thank you. But not this. This wasn't going to let me off that easily.
I know people joke about it and say "oh, bit of man flu eh?!" but this is without doubt the most ill I have ever been in my life. The first evening I had all the usual shivery then boiling hot nonsense. Then, that night, I woke up at about 3:00 in the morning, so soaking wet that, ironically, it was like I'd just been out for a long run. I was literally dripping with sweat. I had to go to the bathroom to dry myself off and wait for my bed to dry out a bit. Last time I checked, sleeping shouldn't be strenuous enough to cause that. That was definitely a bit weird and a warning of what I was in for.
Over the next week I continued to have my buttocks thoroughly kicked by this particularly vicious fever. Fuck man flu, this was dragon flu or something. There were a few days when I genuinely thought I might have contracted the Black Death. Take last Saturday for example. Just as I thought I was recovering, I suffered a giant relapse. I felt so weak that I couldn't even bring my hand out from beneath the blanket to change channels on the TV. I felt paralysed with feebleness. Before I knew it, I'd watched almost two hours of documentaries on the holocaust. What. The. Fuck. Not an ideal Saturday. Let that be a lesson to you all – if you ever start feeling ill, make sure you don't leave your digibox on the 'Yesterday' channel, or you could be in for the most depressing sick day of your life.
Even now as I write this, over two weeks later, I still feel rotten. Because of the way the virus struck in my training programme, I basically missed two full weeks of training. Not a single run. No exercise at all. For two whole weeks. Double balls. With just over a month to go, they were two weeks I could ill afford to lose.
But it gets worse. I've now started running again. I simply can't waste any more training days. But things aren't as they were before I fell ill. Where once I was pounding out 10 miles easily, I am now struggling with 4-milers. And it is absolutely devastating. As it stands, I'm not sure if that's a result of the two weeks of enforced inactivity, or the fact that I'm still not operating with a clean bill of health. This virus is still kicking about in my system.
Whatever it is, I am now in a position where I genuinely don't know if I'll be in a any shape to run the marathon. I should be doing runs between 15 and 20 miles now. Instead, I'm aching my way around 4-mile circuits. This is bad.
I guess we'll just have to see how it goes. I'll keep you posted. Touch lots of wood for me please. If I miss the marathon because of a broken leg, a ruptured achilles or a burst arse, I'll be able to handle it. If I miss out because I had a nasty bout of flu, I'm going to throw myself under a bus (not literally).
This is Andy Durrant, marathon hopeful, signing off for now. Hopefully see you at the finish line. x