For some time now, even before reading of the exploits and amazing feats of the likes of the late Caballo Blanco, Dean Kanazares, and Mike Stroud and Ranulph Fiennes, I’ve often thought of myself as a marathon runner, or even an ultra marathon runner. Much of this has of course been a direct result of The Law of Delusion but lurking away somewhere inside there’s always been a bit of a dream.
A few short hours ago, having returned home from a couple of weeks in the sun of Tenerife I finally did something about this ‘dream’. Maybe it was the effects of too much sun, the weary mind after travelling for several hours with two young children, or the mix of vast quantities of take-away spicy curry and cool beer after returning to cupboards and fridge devoid of food*.
Whatever it was though, I switched on my computer and entered a 50K ultra in and around Nottingham** in October. (I also entered the Cheshire Half Marathon*** in November although this, in some respects, seems to pale into some insignificance right now.)
And that is why I’m sitting typing this post at just after 4 in the morning. I’ve barely slept with a mixture of fear, excitement and, at least in equal measure to the first two reasons, terrible indigestion after sampling the gorgeous delights of our local Indian, Rice ‘n’ Spice.
Now, as I await the rest of the family rising from their slumber, I can rationalise my thoughts about the madness I’ve got myself into. My main fears are:
1) the distance – should I have gone for a 20 miler or a marathon first?
2) the terrain – not sure what it will be like so will need to investigate more in the cold light of day.
3) the wall – should I be scared of it, how much will it hurt, can I sneakily jump over it without anyone noticing and thus avoid running straight into it?
Perhaps I should be worried about finishing last or throwing up as I cross the finish line in a busy city centre, or even having to crawl through the streets but getting that far would, I suppose, represent an achievement in itself. Or maybe I should be worried about something I’ve not even thought of yet, so perhaps thinking about the whole thing too much will be counter-productive. Ignorance is bliss!
The best means of overcoming my fears are, of course:
1) training – stepping up the miles and getting in plenty of long slow runs
2) diet – eating more healthily, consuming less alcohol
3) weight – lose several pounds, if only to enable me to add the weight back on again at the start of the event by carrying several litres of water.
I’m guessing that with some determination and a large slice of luck (unfortunately luck is probably the only thing I’ll be able to accept in large slices for a while), my training and diet will take care of my weight, and will also prevent (or at least reduce) further episodes of imbibing and curry eating thus avoiding future moments of madness with online race entry forms.
Maybe I can take some inspiration from something I recently read in the second of Dean Kanazares’ books (I’m not usually one for taking much from quotes or soundbites but this one is quite apt, especially when I’m easily seduced by a tasty meal or alcoholic beverage, and easily deluded into believing a lack of focus in my training won’t matter too much):
‘…push on with eyes blinded to the deluding mirage, your ears deaf to the call of the seducer, and your mind un-diverted from the goal.’****
I do have a sneaky suspicion I might be able to achieve something which at the moment seems almost impossible, but it’s going to take more than sneaky suspicion and a quote I won’t be able to remember to get me there. Maybe one last full English breakfast and I’ll set foot on that road.
*Fortunately the fridge was not so devoid of beer, although I guess this might have to change from now on!
** I’ve not researched it very much but I know it’s a point-to-point finishing in Nottingham city centre. Had I spent time thinking about it I’d probably not have entered!
*** It will assume massive significance I guess in the weeks leading up to the event as I am determined that I’ll do the whole Cheshire HM at 8 minute mile pace.
****The quote is from Dean Kanazares’ second book (good, but nowhere near as good as his excellent first – a bit too egotistical for my liking but I guess if I was as good as him I might blow my own trumpet a bit too). Anyway, Kanazares attributes this to a lady called Mildred Cable, speaking about the Gobi desert and perhaps unsurprsingly not about an overweight 40 something worrying about a bit of a run in the East Midlands. Sort of works though.