After the aberration at The Emirates on Sunday, I’ve spent the past week pretending football didn’t exist. Sitting there watching Tottenham get taken apart by Theo Walcott of all people was a distinctly painful experience, and one I hope I don’t ever have to sit through ever, ever again. I’d spent the whole week leading up to the match a bit worried, with the press banging about it being our time as the club in the ascendency and everything. As the expectation grew and grew, I just knew something hilariously inept was going to happen. It’s the Tottenham way. At least it has been for most of my supporting days anyway. Then after less than five minutes, Arsenal left a gap in their defence the size of the old Highbury pitch for Saha to wander through and scuff one in to put us in front, shortly followed by Gareth the chimp falling over a chunk of particularly thick fresh air to get us a penalty against the run of play and suddenly we were two nil up away at Arsenal. I’m pretending it all ended there.
So with no football being played since about 2pm on Sunday, time to go back to a time-honoured subject of mine. I’m still very much in training for the Silverstone Half Marathon, which is now just 10 days away. That’s right; a week on Sunday marks my return to competitive action, running in a real race with real people for the first time since October 9th 2011.
Running around a formula one track, pretending to be in a formula one car. Perhaps not a Minardi from about nine years ago as on the picture above taken from their bang-up-to-date website, my Nissan Micra would probably outrun that. But it does sound quite exciting, relatively speaking. I am imagining the reality will be quite different though; stumbling uselessly around a deserted airfield in Northamptonshire, no doubt in gale force winds and horizontal rain knowing my luck. And I’m not even doing this one for charity.
Training has been going well though. In fact in the month of February I ran further in one month than I ever have before, apart from the last month before That Bloody Marathon of course. Throughout the 29 days of February 2012 my stupid little legs propelled me over 122 miles, including a 16 mile effort on Sunday that has left me disabled for days. Despite the distance, it was actually quite a pleasant run as I was back home for the weekend and running to Stotfold and back through the Bedfordshire countryside was a nice change from trudging up and down the fucking A34. The fact that I nearly died doing the last three miles is probably not worth going into in any great detail.
Tell you what though, training is a pain in the arse sometimes. Not so much the running itself; running for an extended period of time while training for an event where I will be required to run for an extended period of time is kind of to be expected really. I can’t complain about having to run if I want to be a half-decent runner. But the actual time that it takes to go out and do a run is the inconvenience. Getting back from work, going out running, showering, then eating my dinner at gone 9pm? Not cool. So I came up with the brainwave; why not just run home from work? Instead of spending 20 minutes walking to the bus stop, then half hour on the bus itself, why not just run the whole thing?
And so, with my work clothes in my rucksack, off I trotted, destination Didsbury. This straight away had one advantage in that I was spending less time walking through Ardwick. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will probably be aware of the collection of photos I have been taking since I moved offices from the City Centre to the bright, scenic environs of Manchester M12. It’s not an area I particularly enjoy walking through if I’m being honest, so the less time spent doing that then all the better as far as I’m concerned.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that it’s actually quite a bit quicker doing it this way, so that’s what I’ve bloody gone and been doing for the past few weeks. I actually tried doing this a few years back when I still worked in the City Centre, regularly getting home before I would have done had I been packed onto a 42 Magic Bus with all the students. I also fell over running past the Palace Hotel in front of hundreds of people at the bus stop, but let’s not go over that again.
There is one drawback to all this though and that’s the fact that I have to run with a rucksack full of stuff all the way back to my lovely flat. I bloody hate that. It’s heavy, it’s sweaty, it’s awkward, it’s a total fucking pain in the arse. Once it even opened all of its own accord, spilling my work clothes out and onto the Manchester concrete. Which was kind of disappointing. I swear all the little injury niggles I have lately are down to the extra weight too, and nothing whatsoever to do with running 122.4 miles in four weeks.
Thankfully, I won’t be putting in a shift like that again for a while, as with less than a fortnight to go now my training is beginning to tail off. This Sunday will be the last big run before the day itself, and then seven days after that I’ll be doing it all for real on the Silverstone racetrack, the hallowed tarmac of one of motor racing’s great cathedrals. And, if I’m struggling for pace, if I don’t look like I’m going to hit my target time, hell if I don’t think I’m going to even finish the bloody thing, I now have something to draw on for inspiration. I can draw on personal experience, I can imagine I’m running through Ardwick, and I can guarantee I will set a new personal best. After all, if I can outrun a Magic Bus, I can outrun anything. I’ll let you know how it all pans out.