Archive for April, 2012

It was the perfect day to run 26.2 miles; a faint breath of wind, a pale April sun, a clear blue sky, a moratorium on public urination.

The pre-race preparations, once I’d arrived at Preston Park (the scene of a whole bunch of  my youthful misdemeanours and drunken escapades I found myself pleasantly recalling) centred around satisfying my basic physical urges  (not that unlike some of those youthful episodes).

Obviously I went to the loo before I left the house.

By the time my dad dropped me in Brighton it was time to go again (I’d spent the last three days taking on extra fluids). The queues for the portaloos were as usual ridiculous and even though the organisers had erected a kind of porta-urinal, I found the immediate presence of a bunch of other people, including the envious gaze of the women queing for the regualr porta-loos ( the thing was kind of en plein air), resulted in a distinct lack of mictuary action on my part.

So I headed off to the bushes; it’s a park! And it wouldn’t be the first time. What was quite nice to see ( not literally, I guess I mean ‘noticed’) was that the female runners had instituted an area for them to use in the bushes, and politely called out to any stray men that wandered in that it was  a chicks only bush ( if you see what I mean).

With twenty minutes or so to kill I went to get a coffee. By the time I’d queued up and been served, I needed to go again. Back to the same bush ( not sure why, plenty to choose from), and then down to the start line.

The actual race went really well. Obviously I needed the loo again pretty much as soon as the gun went, and finally let it go about 6 miles in, on the South Coast road against the fence of  Roedean Girls’ school. Kept a good 4.15 pace up until the last couple of miles when I thought I’d push a little harder and found myself totally out of steam at mile 25. Finished in 4 hours 18. Pretty good.

Hoping to take down my first ultra in Oct.

Got my good friend Ed proofing House of Dreams. Publication coming pretty darn soon, baby!

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My training for the Brighton marathon is continuing, and earlier in the week I undertook my longest run to date (actually, my third longest run ever), when I ran from home in Crouch End to Potters Bar and back. I drove the distance the following day and it was exactly 9.9 miles there, so I’ll call that a round 20 miler. Physically it was okay, although I ran out of Lucozade and was getting a bit dehydrated toward the end, but it felt like I could manage another six, so it left me feeling pretty good for the race (did I mention  you can sponsor me here if you like for GOSH,  or here for my kids’school?)

Psychologically, it was also an interesting work-out. I’m a big fan of nut-ball Japanese writer and running maniac Haruki Murakami, and loved his non-fiction musings about his running, What I talk about when I talk about running. Sometimes  not much goes through your head on a long run, some times all kinds of weird shit. Running out along the clogged artery of the A1000 away from London last Tuesday, up through Totteridge and Whetstone, Barnet and ending up in Potters Bar, I chewed over all kinds of things. Mostly I found myself feeling glad I didn’t live in some shitty suburb packed with ugly Italian restaurants and fat people with desperation scored into their puffy red faces.

I caught the odd glimpse of my reflection in a shop window, and wondered (not the first time)  when exactly my head  had become the head of a grown up whilst the rest of me had managed to retain the trim, athletic figure of my teenage years.

It’s always the smells I like the best. I’ll be running along and suddenly be hit by a smell that sets off some dormant memory buried deep in my past: hyacinths remind me of shopping with my mum when I was tiny; geraniums smell like park railings after a rainfall and make me think of drinking cider in the Grange; a blast from a door to a Micky D’s being opened takes me back to a long summer spent begging, stealing and otherwise trying every which way to get hold of promotional scratchcards that could win a holiday to DisneyLand, but actually only ever yielded free medium fries or a milkshake, and my first proper girlfriend. And they’re all pretty good memories.

I also start to think about whether I will get under 4 hours for the marathon, and know that I won’t; there comes a point during a race that you have to dig deep and cause yourself pain to achieve something. I have come to the relalisation that I just haven’t got the will for that kind of effort. I’ll do okay, but not much more, and I’ve made my peace with that level of inertia. I’ve read that The Good is the enemy of the Great, which I’m sure is true; what is also true is that The Great is a shit-of-a-lot of hard work.

Murakami out.