Sunday morning. 07:12. The air is crisp and the sky is crystal blue. It could easily be mid afternoon, but for the quiet roads and empty pavements. You spot two, maybe three people as you trudge home, snug in that sweet bliss between a night out and your own bed.
The people you see have purpose; a reason to be floating through the Sunday morning void. One man is off to work; you can tell by his face. It looks like it wants to be miserable and dower, but it hasn’t quite woken up enough to mould itself into a convincing emotion. You feel for this man. You appreciate his contribution and understand his pain.
The second person, however, you have nothing but contempt for. They are smug. They are clad in boastful, tight fitting shorts and a fluorescent t-shirt that screams at you from half a mile away. You can’t miss it. It won’t let you miss it. And the face is as patronising as the outfit. The eyes whisper at you as you shuffle towards them, moving slightly to let them pass because they are, after all, superior to you.
That’s right… they’re out running. They have defied God’s will of a day in which it is acceptable to wake up late, drink coffee, read newspapers and eat a plate filled with all the foods directly linked to heart disease, in order to wear inappropriately tight Lycra and… y’know… exert energy.
In the past, I have sneered at these people. I have laughed at their stupidity. Now… I am them.
On 13th April 2014, I will the run the London marathon, 26 miles around the streets of our country’s capital. I’ll put trainers on and wear a vest with Barnardos written across the front (because I’m raising money for them, not just because I like the green – although it is pleasing on the eye).
I know that this is just a man putting one foot in front of the other, quicker than he usually would. I won’t bore you with dry statistics, largely because they are unlikely to bode well for me, but the reality is daunting.
I’m realising that there is more to this than meets the eye. There is etiquette. Runners nodding at each other. Sharing knowing glances. Willing each other on with a hand gesture or a wink. I’m certain I will soon uncover and whole underworld of runners. We’ll gather at night and chant songs about sore ankles and chafing before sacrificing an unhealthy person by suffocating them with spandex. Or maybe they’re all just being polite.
The etiquette extends beyond the runners, too. I rule the pavement. People move aside for me without a second thought. At junctions, cars will often give way even if it disturbs the flow of traffic. I hadn’t realised till I started doing it, but power lies with the runner. We could easily orchestrate some sort of revolution or military coup. Guy Fawkes, Catherine The Great, Muammar Gaddafi. They got it wrong. If only they’d donned some tight shorts and a sweatband, they could have run right into any government building or military base. Police and politicians would move aside as they march in, looking all red faced and smug.
And then the pain. Oh… the pain. I am now at peace with the fact that my body will ache every day for the next four months. Every time I wake up I feel like somebody has performed an intrusive biopsy in the night. I let out a strange yelp every time I stand up or sit down. I’ve given up attempting to cross my legs or fold my arms for any length of time. I just have to remain as still as possible and hope nobody thinks I’ve actually died.
Ultimately, though, it isn’t about me. It’s about helping people. About supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, particularly at a time when their government is letting them down so badly, often victimising them. The work of Barnardos is utterly invaluable and they couldn’t do it without your help. And I couldn’t do this marathon without your help either. In the grand scheme of things, with a little perspective, my sacrifice is small. I’m going to include the link to my fundraising page, in case you find a couple of quid down to the back of the couch and wouldn’t mind throwing it my way. Click HERE to go to Virgin Money Giving.
And who knows, maybe I’ll go off route and run straight into a Parliament building on April 13th. Then you’ll wish you’d donated.
January 26, 2014 | No Comments