The Superficial Checklist



Central Park circa 5pm this evening.

From the rooftop of the MET I faced tomorrow’s challenge. Must admit, it looks pretty big from up here, and that is just the bottom bit.

I was feeling contemplative as I sunned myself this evening. Reminds me of a time in my youth when I decided, surprisingly with no opposition from my parents, despite my less than fit, chubby state, to run a mile. One solitary mile around Bamburgh Castle. Seems trivial now, but at the time I distinctly remember the sheer unadulterated pain as I paced up the steep incline overlooking the North Sea. To my family, eagerly waiting at the finish line, running parallel to the cricket ground, I was lost. Or having a long, luxurious rest at the very least. Until a time when finally my bright red round cheeks appeared along that final straight. My younger sister, desperate to help her elder survive this terrible ordeal, jogged, with ease, the last few yards in support, probably keen to spend the last few moments with her flailing sibling before she departed this earth.

Fortunately, I dragged myself heavily to the tape. I was not a fit young thing back then. I was carrying some puppy fat, except this puppy was one of those British Bulldog types. Those really chunky monsters. That was me. And I was probably slobbering by that point so the metaphor works on a couple of levels.


I may have been round but I was darn cute!


Tonight, however, as I place all the necessities for tomorrow’s 13.1 mile “jog” on the table, I reminisce about my running experiences to date. That one mile run and that other time when I really really wanted to catch the train. No, only kidding, I have done a half marathon before, but that was slightly shorter than Central Park twice-and-a-bit-more, and it was almost entirely flat. Having read the course description for my stateside attempt, for the first time this week (erroneously), I become fixated on one section:

Almost all of the course is run over curving roads and undulating terrain, except for one straight, flat half-mile stretch along the East Side that you’ll run twice. Major uphills are at approximately 1.5, 3, 4, 7.5, 9, and 10 miles.

Have I done any hill running yet? I certainly have not. I tend to find running up hills a bit exhausting and painful and have chosen to avoid them at any opportunity.

It may be too late to prepare in any appropriate way so all I have left to do are the superficial check list items: have a hot bath, eat a truck load of pasta and hydrate away. My shoes are now adorned with the timing strip that I will probably ignore so that I can lie through my teeth “Paul Ryan style” when anyone asks me how long it took me to complete. Furthermore, being a New York marathon qualifying race, I propose that digestive biscuits and orange squash will not be on the menu. I predict that my peers will have done some hill running and won’t be taking tomorrow’s “stroll” lightly. And I suppose I am going to suffer a great deal.

But I will do it. I have been talking to myself all day on the matter. I will drag my slightly less rotund butt around that manmade green space and I will earn some running respect. From whom, it is unclear. But by that stage I will be quite delirious and expecting some knight in shining armour to carry me home (maybe I am already delirious. It certainly sounds like it).

Wish me luck!


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