The long road to the start line…

Along my road to the Paris Marathon I kept a running blog going as a kind of “encouragement via threat of public humiliation” – if I told everyone about this stuff I’d have to keep it up. The original posts were lost as part of some software upgrade or other, but here’s a collection of bits I saved…

The body beautiful…

Someone’s three year old daughter was admiring my “boobs” the other day when I’d taken off my t-shirt after a kick-about with the kids. From the mouths of babes…

When I committed to running a marathon next year I knew it was going to be a struggle. I was very unfit and I’d never run further than 5k. My fastest 5k time was 25 minutes (though I was dressed as Father Christmas at the time). I was also overweight…

When I tell people I need to lose a couple of stone the usual reaction is “but you’re not overweight”. A mixture of politeness and the fact that they’ve never seen me naked 🙂

A couple of months later I’m still unfit, I’ve still yet to run further than 5k but I’m no longer overweight, at least according to the official figures.

I’m now at the high-end of what they call a healthy weight for someone of my height. It’s a big range though, taking account of the variations in people’s body shape. I could lose over four stone from where I started and still be a healthy – that’s one third of my weight! If I were big built and highly muscled I’d be happy being at the high end of healthy weights, but I’m not. Even when I used to go weight training 5 days a week I was never going to be “big” – I’m just not that shape.

More importantly according to me I’m overweight. I don’t feel good about these extra pounds, I’m not losing sleep over them but if I step back and think about it I’d be happier without them.

Maybe I could improve my fitness in order to make it around with those extra couple of stone but given the choice would you opt to carry them around if you were aiming to run 26 miles? Thought not. I reckon that shedding this weight is going to do as much for me as dozens of training runs.

Since I first I made up my mind to do this thing I have lost about half a stone. I’m now nearer thirteen and a half and counting… down.

Falling apart

The body has started to object! When I started this lark it was my knee that was giving me grief. Warm-ups, support and exercises have eased that but as I ramp up the miles other bits are beginning to let me know they’re not altogether happy with what I’m asking them to do.

Who’d have thought that after 45 years of lazing around they’d have anything to complain about! I’ve given them all that rest and relaxation then after six months of exercise they start to rebel. Bloody ungrateful I call it!

My toe has the most fantastic blister at the end, nothing that an extra pair of socks won’t fix though. That bit of leg between foot and knee is next. Man that aches! An occasional twinge from that dodgy knee then where leg bone meets hip bone…

Part of me thinks maybe I should have tried this 20 years ago instead. It’s out-voted by all the other parts which think I shouldn’t contemplate it at *any* age!

These trousers are an old pair. I don’t think the me that wore them originally would be able to run 2 miles, let alone 26.

It’s not like I could fit another person in them but the amount of room I have is quite stunning. Did my arse really fill these when I first bought them? Now there’s a scary thought. Actually my weight loss has come to a bit of a halt, I’m holding steady at about 13 stone, which is disappointing. I have a sneaky suspicion that I piled on a few pounds over Christmas and have lost it again since coming back to work. I’ll check again in a few days and let you know.

Christmas itself was notably not for any particular excess on my part, but rather for a break in training. I’ve had this cold for over a month now, I kid you not, and during the worst of it my running went out the window. (if you just thought the words “man-flu”, congratulations on graduating from the Andy Grey School of Sexual Politics). The aches and pains are gone, I got my hearing back a week ago, and my coughing is no longer keeping me (and the neighbours) up at night so the running is back on.

I’m now doing about 20 miles a week, rising to 30 miles by April. The weekend will see me and Gilles pounding the tow-paths of the Bath canal. Monday will no doubt be painful.

101 days to go

There are now 101 days left until I attempt to run my first marathon. I’m aiming to do it in under four hours, could be quite a challenge.

If you’ve read any of my other articles you’ll know that it’ll be the culmination of months of training, from my attempts to actually run 5k without stopping, through my first 10k “race” to where I can now do 10k without fearing death.

What you won’t know is that when I decided to do this my objective was to use it as a fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Charity. A couple of years ago someone I love was devastated by the loss of a loved one to prostate cancer. Until then it wasn’t something I was really aware of, but I saw up close the suffering it causes to all those affected by it.

70 days to go

It’s now only 70 days until the Paris Marathon. As the days count down the training ramps up and today saw me and Gilles take the next step with our first 20k run…

The genius of running in Bath was that the canal offered a nice level route. Gilles is all for running up hill and down dale with his off-road shoes on but I strongly suspect that he’d be less happy about having to carry me home. He’s the fit one though, he’ll probably be out on his mountain bike tomorrow while I spend all morning trying to negotiate my way down the stairs with legs objecting to any form of movement and absolutely refusing to bend at the knee.

Anyway, we made it. Not only that but we came in under two hours which bodes well for our aim of coming in under four hours in the big one. More training between now and the big day and I might even have shaken off this cold by then! Have to get in at least twenty miles this week (I’m definitely counting from today!) then keep ramping it up.

The incredible shrinking man

More good news… I dropped a size in the waist of my jeans, from 36 inches to 34. Having noticed the other day that my trousers were a tad loose, then realising I had some room for manuevre in the ones I was trying on I thought I’d the next size down. They only bloody fit!

Good news all ’round. Well, apart from the huge blister I have on my toe… ew.

The final stretch

The Olympic countdown clock froze today at 500 days. Alas, my clock is still ticking.

The body hasn’t completely collapsed yet, though the cramp I suffered the other day was a bit of a worry, would be much better if that didn’t happen again!

Much stretching is now being done to address the pains in my hip, my knee and my legs. If you’ve seen me stood still for any length of time you’ll notice me assuming a variety of odd poses… it’s all part of the training: if you can think of it, I’m stretching it, though much of that is done behind closed doors.

I’d forgotten how many people I know with professional qualifications in bending, stretching and pummelling bodily bits into submission. I have to say my favourite is the “Swedish” Massage. While I have yet to experience one it sounds sooo much more inviting than a “Sports” Massage.

On the plus front we’re gradually approaching the £3,000 mark. It’s Prostate Cancer Awareness month at the moment, seems an appropriate time to be badgering people for money for the cause. If you’re reading this, and think you might like to oblige me with a few quid, you can do so here.

Right, I’m off for another stretch…