Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Road That Led Here - Three Days To Go

Ten marathons. Marathon is such a sensible, short distance.

I can't believe I've just typed "Three Days To Go". It makes me feel Saturday rushing towards me. I'm spending my evenings this week writing individually to people I know to ask if they'll contribute, and I'm humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends old and new.
This means I haven't had time to write a proper blog for today, so this is off the top of my head. How did I get here? How did I decide that I would run a more-than-double marathon on the eve of my fiftieth birthday?
I ran my first marathon in 2008. By the time I'd run five, and started to knock the time it took me down, I'd decided that I'd have a go at ten. And all of these took place during my forties. It just seemed to make a kind a mathematical sense to round off that decade with something special.
I have no intention of making this my new standard distance. The 18 weeks of training have eroded my ability to run fast and I've put on about 4 kg, because these long slogs don't really burn fat and leave me insatiably hungry. I'm looking forward to stopping and then starting again - shorter distances, higher speeds, more intensity, more recovery in between runs. I'll lose that weight and take a delight in running again.
I feel OK about asking people for money for doing this now, because it's hard.
The training has been hard. It has been hard to do and has made everything else I do harder as well. This isn't a lifestyle I could sustain. I inherited a very unhelpful paternal belief that reward has to be earned. This grim ethic has asserted itself viciously this winter.
And this week, the dutiful labour and low mood have been supplanted by fear. I make no bones about it - I'm terrified. As well as my usual non-specific anxiety, I have some quite particular fears. 
My left ankle doesn't feel perfect. I'm aware of it most of the time. I know that by running on it on Saturday I'll be compromising the recovery that's been happening since I stopped training last week. What if the pain becomes acute? How will I feel if I have to drop out? How do I face over a hundred sponsors? How do I face myself? How will I manage the following day, deprived of the achievement I've been promising myself? 
And will this mild cold bug I have still affect me? I seem to be able to feel my heart thumping whenever I turn my attention to it. Will I be weakened? Will I be feverish? Will I slow to the point that I stop reaching the checkpoints by the cutoff time and be asked to drop out?
And even if the ankle pain and the fever continue to recede as they thankfully have been, will I be able to complete the course? The furthest I have ever run is 34 miles and that felt a long way from comfortable or normal. I have to continue for another 21miles after that. Can I do it? Is there any evidence? Any hope I can hang on to?
There's only one way to find out.

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