January began with a new pair of running shoes. They’re quite lairy – luminous greens and electric blues all criss-crossing in a manner that suggests streamlining and high performance rather than gasped swearwords and scattergun expectoration – and I feel a bit of an oul’ eejit in them, to be honest. You can’t beat a pair of plain white Woolworth’s plimsolls, in my book. My luminous footwear also cost an amount that had the world swimming slightly in front of my eyes when the man in the shop told me how much they would cost – put it this way, at that price I expect them not only to carry me around the course with no physical input from me whatsoever but also to furnish me with several large gin and tonics en route and have a pizza delivered to me at the finish line.
The man in the shop analysed my running style [sic] and had me running through a crowded shopping arcade with my jeans rolled up to my knees in the manner of a man trying to warn a town of an impending flood in order to confirm that I apparently have chunky calves. These contributed to my (read: his) choice of shoe and to me stopping strangers in the street ever since, cocking my leg sideways and asking them if they think I have chunky calves.
So, I now have ridiculous, expensive, and ridiculously expensive footwear. Don’t worry though, from the ankles up there’s no danger of anyone mistaking me for a serious athlete – for one thing, serious athletes don’t go running in a t-shirt bearing the legend ‘Pork Pie Appreciation Society’ and decade-old hiking socks.
To nobody’s greater surprise than mine training is on schedule. It’s been another month of High-Intensity Interval Training, interval sprints and longer runs and I’m quite surprised by the level of progress I’ve made. Where barely two months ago I couldn’t lumber half a mile without going cross-eyed, clutching my sides and staggering to a gasping halt like G.K. Chesterton just missing a bus he was running for, I now appear able to run for several miles without stopping. Granted, we’re talking about a pace that makes glaciation look nippy, but hey, I’m a fortysomething indolence enthusiast with side-view like the prow of tugboat who sits at home on his backside for a living. The Olympics are not in my sights, at least, not until 2020.
There are six weeks to race day. My race number has arrived in the post and I have quite a lot of sponsorship money looking at me expectantly. It’s all starting to look terrifyingly real. My lovely running coach pal Sarah has sent me my final weeks’ training programme and reading it I suspect she wants me dead, but she assures me I’m entirely capable. As someone who defers unquestioningly to any kind of authority, I have to believe her.
I’m worried about my calves, though: if they get any chunkier with all this running I may get too wide for the course and possibly have do the narrower sections sideways.
I’m running the Bath Half Marathon on March 13th in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society – please, please click on this link to read about why, and think about bunging a couple of quid in the cyber collecting tin. You know I’ve always thought you were a fine and generous human being despite the graffiti I used to write about you all around town.