When I arrived in London 8 weeks ago, I had just a backpack. I didn’t even own a pair of running shoes. I’m still recovering from the shock of returning to civilisation after eight months on the road in South America and being far away from home.
But amidst all this weirdness and wonder, I somehow, by some miracle, have landed a place in the much coveted London Marathon.
The London Marathon is so popular that it is done by ballot. You apply. You miss out. The other option is to run for a charity and raise money for them. I am enormously excited about getting a place with the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre.
But I’ve had a less than perfect start to my training and I keep getting lost on my runs.
Last week I did my first training run back after being struck down by ‘a proper English cold’. I’ve felt like death for well over a week. I’ve been easing my body back with strength training but last week I decided that I felt well enough to run home from work – a supposed 4.7 mile (7.5 km). That’s if you follow the printed map in your hand or the GPS in your bag. Otherwise the run is about 6 miles if you choose to ignore the map in your hand because surely the map is wrong.
So my run/ hobble didn’t go so well. I picked the worst possible route home. When I planned my route, it never occurred to me that Oxford Street may not be the best street to jog down during peak hour. After dodging hundreds of prams and wheelie suitcases that seemed to spring out of nowhere, I gave up and walked in a huff. Finally, once I’d reached Edgeware Road I had some space.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself when I discovered that I was running west instead of north west. So, after an hour and a half of stumbling around the streets with blue lips and many choice words rolling through my mind, I saw a bus and on I hopped. The woman I sat next to looked horrified and swiftly stuffed her fingers in her nose to block my sweaty smell that was radiating throughout the bus.
To top it off my back pack rubbed on my shoulders (I later discovered the straps were all over the shop), my shoes didn’t feel right and I felt like I needed to run in a fur coat – I could feel the temperature dropping from 8 degrees. I know I’ll be keeping Kleenex in business this winter with the tsunami like force of liquid that seems to stream from my nose the second I take off.
By the time I got home, I was shivering, starving and stiff as a plank.
If I said I’d found it an exhilarating experience, I would be lying. I’m unable to repeat any of the choice words that had rolled around in my mind. And for the life of me, I can’t work out how I came to be in London – let alone in London training for the marathon.
But at the back of mind is that familiar voice. I haven’t heard it in a while. It says… ‘Here we go again. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.’
The physical and mental challenge I face is enormous – run 26.2 miles or 42.1 kilometres and raise AT LEAST (!) 1500 pounds for the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre. I would like to raise a million.
I’m up for it if you are!