September was gone, but it had left behind a well-trained and focused individual. Now some people would go so far as to say that in a certain light the person who had surged out of September with a spring that would make a chicken look brave, was in fact a new type of older Comic book hero (more like Splash instead of Flash).
Through months of training, pounding the streets day and night, running up and down hills like a confused Grand ole Duke of York (normally the up and down hills were due to a miscalculation of my internal compass) Having a good sense of direction is obviously not one of the superhero powers written into my story. On many occasions, I would run up a street only to find it was a Cul-de-sac and have to back track. As I retraced my steps I could feel the eyes of the net curtain twitchers on me as they looked out suspiciously at the sweaty middle-aged man staining their strange street to nowhere with the perspiration that stung my eyes as it made its way to splash on their pavements. Ah the life of a runner.
I believe I can now call myself a runner after the Great Scottish Run which took place on the 1st of October.
I know you all want to know why I can to do this. Well let me quickly give you a brief rundown of my running escapades.
My first half Marathon attempt was the previous year again at the Great Glasgow Run, the day was beautiful unlike this year, the crowds were out in force and everyone appeared happy and smiley. Apart from me that is, I had set my goal at beating the 2 hours mark but I slogged my way through all 21 kilometres to finish at a disappointing 2 hours 12 minutes. Was I disappointed? You bet your sock drawer I was, but never one to give up after the first attempt (2nd or 3rd perhaps) I tried again to beat the 2 hours mark. In January, this year I participated in my second half Marathon this time in Barcelona, wwwooooo I hear you cry, Richard you are an international athlete, but an athlete would not go over 1300 miles only to run almost the exact time of 2 hours 12 minutes.
Funny thing is 2 hours 12 minutes is the same in Barcelona as it is in Glasgow only it is in a different language.
So okay I got a bit down due to this, my dream of becoming a famous runner and making a fortune on the grand prix athletics events throughout the world seemed to be all but over. I gave up, I gave myself to the mistress of cakes, biscuits and fizzy pop. My focus had gone. After putting on a few pounds (10) which led to moving my belt out a loop or two (4), I decided enough is enough. So, I borrowed Angelicas mirror and had a good long hard look at myself and said no more Richard, the world needs you, the middle-aged society needs you. They need someone to aspire to, pull yourself together man. After a few slaps to the face these slaps were administered by myself to myself not by my wife as some people believe to be the case. I pulled on the old running top which appeared to have shrunk a bit around the mid-section and across the moobs (I will need to check the washing instruction on the label of these things before chucking them in the machine), dug the trainers out from behind the shoe rack. For behind the rack is where all lost and forgotten shoes seem to go. You know what I am talking about! You may not have a rack as such, but I bet you have a place where these lost souls of shoes go to rest. The shoes that are not quite done, the shoes that you bought because you thought they looked great but once put on became like some type of torture device used for hobbling you, much akin to that horrific scene in Stephen Kings film “Misery” (If you haven’t seen Misery then get it watched as it is a modern-day work of genius) and of course the running shoes that go no faster than 2 hour and 12 minutes.
And so, the comeback had begun. Now I am not saying it was easy, this is not a story of one man and a dream. It was more like one man and a never-ending series of complaints and moans every night before going out. But I did it I got myself out more often than not. There were good nights and bad nights. Running in the pouring rain, sweating like a sweaty thing in a sweat shop during the 2 days of summer we had this year, learning the need for tape and Vaseline, anyone who has done any running knows what I am talking about. Then there were the runs when you catch the last rays of a sunset just as you crest the top of a hill, running passed the spring flower beds the with their multitude of budding flowers and realising that by going out at crazy times you become part of a fraternity of other crazed runners who 99% of the time will give you a knowing nod or a wave from across the street as your paths cross. These things and many more like them go to making the running experience worth it.
I am going to tell you something now, but it is just between me and you. So, come closer as I will need to whisper it, “I believe it has made me a better person”. Knowing you can go out and run in the pouring rain and laugh about it afterwards has got to instil some type determination and drive into you “right”? or it might just mean you have finally teetered over the top into insanity.
Long story short, I got there, I did it, I beat the 2 hours mark and lost 16 pounds in weight in the process (not a clue what this is in kilograms, I still use inches as a measurement.) I finished in 1 hour 56 minutes, roughly 16 minutes faster than the previous two events.
Was I happy? Damn tooting.
Will, I continue running? Without a doubt. I am going for under 1 hour 50 minutes next year an advance apology to my good wife for the up and coming moaning.
Will, I make it to the Athletic Grand Prix? Perhaps not, but I will make it out the door tomorrow night and I will wave or nod to every other dreamer that crosses my path on my nightly excursion.