Probably about time for an update I'd say. My last post painted a very gloomy picture indeed. I was at a low ebb. Ravaged by flu, lacking energy and clinging to shreds of hope, I was like the A-Team BEFORE they escaped. Now, like a soldier of fortune freshly sprung from unlawful incarceration, I'm a far more positive animal. I'd like to stress, however, I'm not available for hire, I'm not big on plans and I don't have a secret cache of powerful firearms. But, I can run.
Yes, since my previous post I have been putting in the miles and suffering for my efforts. Just yesterday I ran 18 miles. 18. 18 miles. If my run yesterday were a human being, it could legally stroll into a public house, purchase and then sup an alcoholic beverage. In those terms, quite staggering. I managed this without any devices to harness the wind, without any illegal stimulants and without an internal combustion engine. As Paula Radcliffe once said, "I just fackin' ran it up."
So, to cut a long story short, with little over 13 days to go, I now feel far more confident that I will complete my marathon goal. Thanks to my period of illness setting me back a month or so, I'd say it's now going to be more of a horrible slog than an enjoyable challenge, but I'm going to do it nonetheless. As such, I'll probably be pestering you for sponsorship shortly.
Anyway, I thought now might be a good moment to share with you a few things I've noticed during my time pounding the pavements and towpaths of Surrey...
1) In general, I've found that if you're running towards a group of people, most will shimmy to the side at least a little bit to let you get past. I always say thank you as a courtesy, even though, let's face it, they don't own the ruddy pavement, so why should they have any more rights to it than I do simply because they're walking and I'm running? Anyway, I digress. What I've noticed is that most people move quite happily, but two distinct groups stick out by a mile as the least jogger-friendly: chavvy kids and women over the age of roughly 50. I realise the age thing is pure guesswork and it's a sweeping generalisation, but I think it's fairly accurate. Now, with the chavs, I fully expected it of them. In their adolescent mind, somehow being rude and taking the mickey out someone who is both relatively fit (see 'jogging') and twice the size of them is a good idea. That's because they're demented. Fair enough. But the women of a certain age, I just don't get it. Nine times out of ten they just look at me angrily as if jogging is the visual equivalent of a shit-smeared wall. If they've got hiking poles with them, there's absolutely no fucking way they're budging even so much as an inch. Even if it means I have to run several metres submerged in the Basingstoke canal. If anybody can offer any possible explanations for this bizarre trend, I'd love to hear from you.
2) Lots of people have fires. Seriously. It's like every third garden is home to a blazing inferno. When you're gasping for air, you really notice when it suddenly thickens with plumes of dark smoke. And it happens a lot. Can the residents of Surrey please stop setting so much stuff on fire? It's like that guy on Friends. Not Tom Selleck; the other one.
3) Hills are horrible. Going up them saps your energy, and coming down them forces your hips to make a beeline for your armpits. Unpleasant. And it turns out roads I've traversed hundreds of times before in a car are actually far steeper than I'd ever realised. Bummer.
4) Dogs are awesome. I already knew this, but regular jogging has reinforced my view times ten. They are such happy animals. They just love running and playing. There's nothing that lifts your spirits 10 miles into a run quite like being joined for a few strides by a furry pacemaker. Bless their tiny little happy faces.
5) Tree roots are the evil wooden offspring of Peter Sutcliffe. And apparently my ankles are Yorkshire-based prostitutes.
6) There aren't many bins. Yesterday, 18 miles, predominantly on public pathways. I passed one bin. Keep Britain tidy, kids...
So, my next post (quite possibly titled 'Marathon Man - Part 4') will be written after the big day. Will I have made it? Will my legs and lungs hold out? Will I soil myself around the 20-mile marker? And will Brooklyn Decker be waiting at the finish line to give me a really long congratulatory hug? Only time (and this blog in a couple of weeks) will tell...