Someone I admired early in my plodding career was Julie Welch, whose resignedly matter-of-fact tale of the London Marathon, 26.2, I found strangely inspiring. Her piece on the Serpies website still brings a distant sheen to the old eyeballs, ten years after I last read it. The lachrymosity is part nostalgia, part melancholy, part euphoria, and part Chianti.
Her post-running life has been somewhat pedestrian: she became a long distance walker. Some ex-runners crank up the heart rate with cycling, or slope off to the piste. Others, unable to cope with the indignity of retirement, retreat to the potting shed with a half bottle of vodka concealed inside their Daily Express.
Me? As mentioned in my last, somewhat distant post, I bought a rowing machine — and even used it for a while. Then came a throbbing ankle, a rattling knee, and an insatiable curiosity to learn how the old flame of fine Tuscan wine had been getting on without me. It didn’t take long to get our knickers off again. We consumed each other across the summer and through the autumn, until I got fed up again and negotiated a bleak midwinter ceasefire.
The timing, just after Christmas, wasn’t ideal. My 1,000 kilometre drive back from London had a tantalising soundtrack — the comforting clink of a dozen corking Aussie wines. Included were six Domaine A Cabernets (2000 vintage), bought seven or eight years earlier, and kept in storage. Shortly after getting these beauts home, the rapprochement became just too cordial again — an irony it’s hard to out-think.
In March, the fog lifted from the lake and the snow began to melt, exposing another desire to get exercising without these self-inflicted complications. It’s been a good couple of months; so good that I appear to have pledged a trip to Almeria in 2017 for the Medio Maraton weekend. It may be flapping slightly in the weedy breeze of apathy, but the manifesto is still there, nailed to the cathedral door.
The 21 kms of the Almeria Half stretch further than my reach these days, and I’m struggling to even see the 9K start line, let alone the finish. These trusty old running goggles with their deep rose tint are still in service, but worn at an increasingly jaunty angle.