Fast forward 28 years and I still considered myself athletic. I was overweight from eating (ie. the classic see-food diet; I ate whatever I saw), smoking cigars and drinking too much too often. When I say overweight, I mean that I had hit 120 kg. I noticed only when my clothes no longer fit. The last 10 kg seemed to have come from nowhere.
It was late and my wife had fallen asleep. I was finishing off a bottle of red that survived our meal. I was watching something on Sky TV. Bottle finished, I found another. When that evaporated, I finished another. That, too, disappeared. For some reason, it was having no effect on me. I looked for my poison of preference—scotch—but there was nothing to be found. Only a bottle of tequila that must have been gifted to us twenty years ago. I never drank the stuff so it survived in the recesses of our cupboards. I resumed my position in front of the TV. As with the bottles that came before, so went the tequila. My body was drunk but my mind raced on. I would have drank more if there was anything.
Out of boredom, I went to bed.
The next morning, I awoke at the usual 6.30am time. No headache. Body was a little sore and I suspected that my blood alcohol level was still high. Otherwise, just another morning. It was a curse I used to feel was a blessing: a high tolerance to alcohol and no hang-overs.
I had given up coffee the year earlier so I drank water. A lot. I was struck at the banality of life in general and mine in particular. I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I didn’t actually enjoy drinking; I was doing it to pass the time, dull any pesky emotions, and participate in society’s acceptable addiction.
I decided to not drink for a month. I wanted to determine whether I was an alcoholic (people now do 'dry January' as their test).
One month came and went. The greatest pressure was from others who refused to drink with me if I didn’t drink as well. I went on a boy’s weekend to Estonia. Everyone drank until paralytic—except me. To compound matters, I also decided to go vegetarian. I survived and decided to extend my non-drinking to two months. Then three. That was 2 ½ years ago and I still haven’t found a reason to drink (but plenty of excuses). I may drink again, but I am enjoying not touching the stuff.
Physio, MRI investigations, and more physio convinced me to join a gym.
Over the next twelve months, I dropped 20 kg and started to glimpse my former self. I levelled out at 98-100kg (I’m tall) and focussed on core strength, balance, and endurance. I know that I’ll eventually drop another 5-10 kg but that will be difficult to achieve and may not be sustainable considering how much I love food!
It took me six months before I had the guts to step on a treadmill.
It took two more months before I ran 5 km.
The next couple of days, I couldn’t walk but I still ran that 13.1 km route a further three times before we returned to the UK.
The idea came to me just before I woke on the 2nd January 2020. I would run the marathon for my 50th birthday. I looked up the time of the London marathon and discovered that it was held in April. I vowed to run London 2021, a few weeks after I would turn 50. That also gave me over a year to train for the event.
Two weeks later, I ran 22 km (half marathon distance) on the gym’s treadmill. Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Naturally, I took a picture of it (see below). Unfortunately (fortunately?), I have no action shots of me exercising...
The next week, I kept up my regime of 5-10 km/day on the treadmill. I stretched and kept working my core.
But there was a problem. I couldn’t walk after sitting for extended periods (such as driving to London). It took nearly a minute for me to bring myself to stand, relax the hip flexors, and begin walking after long periods sitting. The first few steps were tight, then everything was fine. I dismissed this as tight hip-flexor muscles. Every runner had tight muscles, I told myself.
After a full day driving and moving furniture, I couldn’t walk at all for almost two minutes when trying to exit the car. Something more was going on.
Back to the physio.
Injury. More exercises assigned to help me recover.
But I didn’t rest. And pain made running impossible.
Those around me are tired of hearing about the marathon. Or shoes. Or the training schedule. They like it; they admire it; but they think I’m nuts.
The idea of a marathon has taken hold of me. Beyond the physical endeavour—which does require training—there is a mental state of being that you need to find if you are to be successful. It has become my Zen. Possibly even my muse.
The marathon is a greedy mistress. She takes from the body until exhaustion stops the body cold. The body must feed its mistress while keeping its mind strong. The body can do it; this, it must remind itself of constantly. When the mistress sees the strength, she changes tact--challenging with speed, pace and elevation changes. The body, entranced, battles ever forward. I fear that the mistress's demands eventually breaks every body.
Despite injury, I also booked the New York full marathon which is run 1 November 2020. In my madness, I am even contemplating booking the Berlin full marathon which is run 27 September 2020. In my mind, I thought that the September marathon would be a good precursor for the November marathon. I haven’t booked it yet, but watch this space.
Another thing I learned: I am currently very slow in marathon terms. I aim to run the full marathon in under 4 hours. World record is 2 hours. Qualifying times for marathons (to get a ticket on merit) is 3 hours. All the rest of us need to either get picked by ballot (rare) or run for a charity (easy, but requires fund raising).
As a result, please check out my links below and sponsor me please! It is for very good causes that are dear to my heart. The London Landmarks half marathon is being run for the Autistic Society (www.nas.org.uk). New York full marathon is being run for a children’s charity that promotes running/athleticism for children (click https://www.runwithtfk.org/Page/AboutUs for details).
My London half marathon donation page:
My New York full marathon donation page:
That's it for now. I am still writing but not publishing at the moment. Please remember to click and donate!! (And thanks for reading this.)