I knew what had happened, what was happening, from my news feed on Facebook. My dad was happy. A former work colleague was exultant but nervous. Another friend was disappointed. I hastily began home; a letter from the people who run the Virgin London Marathon beckoning me.
I was in. Of course, I was. I applied for a place with a good for age time set at London in April, negating the need to enter the horrendously oversubscribed ballot. But there was still room for doubt. What if my application had been lost in the post? What if an administration error had occurred?
I need not have worried. There the letter was: good news. I will run – illness, injury and sanity-permitting – the London Marathon in 2012, the year of the city’s Olympics. I too was excited. Rightly so. This will be my 10th marathon. That excitement, however, lasted around four days. It took that long to remind me I had to train for the thing.
I ran 2,50 in April. Dare I dream of sub-2.45? The key, obviously, to a good (fast) marathon is mileage, and that means clocking up very serious mileage in midweek. Long Sunday runs aren’t a problem; it’s those 10, 11 and 12-milers (and beyond) on dark Wednesday or Thursday nights that truly test a runner’s mettle. And so it was yesterday. I couldn’t be bothered. I simply didn’t want to run. Perhaps it was the drudgery of the prospect of the Croydon to Streatham road that turned me off? Perhaps it was the cumulative tiredness resulting from a succession of 5.55am alarms? Or, sometimes, you’re simply not in the mood. I ran, nevertheless, covering nine painfully uneventful miles.
‘Why did you run then?’ my confused wife asked when I explained that I ran even though I didn’t want to run. I couldn’t answer that then. Nor can I now. So then it dawned on me. This is what I’ve signed up to. Again. For months. I began wishing for an administration error.