[London, UK, October 2015]
Autumn. In six months it'll be spring. When spring comes around, I'll be running my first marathon in Brighton.
While I've never done a marathon, I have done two half marathons before. It's just that they were four years apart. The first half, in 2008, I got through in relative comfort because I was 20 and slight in frame. The second was in 2012, when I was no longer 20 and not quite so slight. That one I didn't train for, because I had a harebrained theory that a miserable couple of hours on the day would be better than a consistently exhausting few months of training beforehand. When I got to the end, as broken as my logic, I found it preposterous that 13.1 miles could possibly only be half of something. I told myself that I'd never do a marathon, because I probably don't have that distance in me.
Although I've done a few long runs in the past just to pick up the t-shirt, I'm no runner. That would be like calling myself a chef because I sometimes have basil with beans on toast. There was a time, though, when I used to enjoy the catharsis of running from or to a decision, or using running as a method of exploring somewhere new. There was this one particularly memorable run in 2013 when, having spent a couple of months in Japan, I was struggling over whether to stay or return to the UK. That on my mind, I spent a morning running around part of the Tottori countryside that I barely knew. In thick late summer heat I ran between grids of rice fields, stumbled into quiet shrines, found an abandoned baseball ground, and at one point had to jump over a snake. Sure, it didn't appear to be alive, but I really was very brave. You should've seen.
That was two years ago, and these days I don't run anything like as much as I once did. When I moved to London in February 2015, I hoped that a new postcode would reanimate my enjoyment of running but, for a couple of reasons, that hasn't really happened. Firstly, London is full of bars. They're everywhere, and it's much easier to make new friends in a new city when you've got a drink in your hand than when half of your body is entombed in nylon. Secondly, in the months since relocating I've managed to all but destroy both of my feet. The left when I twisted my foot awkwardly during a game of football, tearing a tendon. The right when I fell down the stairs after a bit too much wine, cracking a bone. That was the first bone I'd broken since I broke my wrist during a game of chess when I was eight. Long story.
And so, autumn. An inflamed tendon in one foot, a cluelessness in mind, no particular ability, and only six months to go from being someone who runs for 26.2 minutes every now and then to someone who runs 26.2 miles in one go. It's going to be terrible, but at least there won't be any snakes.