Before I start, I should point out that I used to be an avid runner. I competed regularly between 1999 and 2001, averaging 10-20 races a year, and have dozens of trophies and medals for my efforts. I wasn’t Olympic material or anything, but I was in decent shape, relatively drug and alcohol free, and fast enough to be competitive provincially.
A lot has changed since then. I’m now 25 pounds heavier, a poster child for bad habits, and nowhere near my peak racing shape. I have made several abortive attempts to resume a running regimen, but a combination of injuries (two sprained ankles and a bad back) and poor life decisions have always stopped me before I made any real progress. This year, for example, I managed to get a couple of races in by July, only to mash up my leg in a softball game. I wasn’t able to run for over almost two weeks, which was just enough to discourage me from starting again.
Now it’s closing in on October. I just came off a three-day bender that peaked with a 10 hour drinking session during the Stones concert (I was watching from the comfort of my deck, you wet suckers) and I feel like shit, to put it bluntly. So what I am gonna do about it?
Start training for a marathon, of course.
Here’s the plan: The Legs for Literacy Marathon takes place November 5 in Moncton, New Brunswick, and I am going to spend the next six weeks training preparing to complete the race. For those of you that don’t know, a marathon is a little over 42 kilometers in length (42.195km, to be exact), and most smart runners usually take anywhere between 4 and 6 months to train for the race. If I start running right now, I’ll have 42 days to get fit enough to complete the race. It’s a daunting task, but at this point I’ll take a little hard work over more hard drinking.
How do I think I’ll do? Right now I am not sure. Ideally I would love to qualify for The Boston Marathon, but the qualifying time is 3 hours and 10 minutes. I’d have to average 4:30 per kilometer to pull it off, which is definitely too much to handle in such a short period of time, especially in my shape. If I would have to predict a finish right now, I would promise a sub four-hour marathon, with the hope for something slightly better.
And what if I fail? I won’t fail. At the very worst I will run a terrible marathon, and you’ll all have a good laugh as I hobble around painfully for a week or two. Part of the motivation for completing the race will be know that a lot of people will be reading about my training, so I can’t flake out 18 miles into the race (or, worse still, three weeks into training). One way or another, a marathon will be finished, even if I have to crawl across the finish line.
There’s no turning back. As soon as I press send I start training. Goodbye booze, hello protein shakes.