Max’s Marathon WEEKS 10 and 11: In which I am kept upright by caffeine and avocados

“There are times I have to make peace with the fact I am at war.” Tori Amos

I ran 16 miles in total over the weekend and have basically forgotten how to write sentences, in a jet-lag meets hangover way (I went out to buy a friend’s birthday present on Sunday afternoon and left my purse at home! Win!) but my mind is racing with more thoughts than I know what to do with, still chirruping away through sleepless nights like an old Nokia phone that won’t break no matter how many times you stamp on it or drop it down the loo at work.

Some scattered thoughts from the last two weeks, then…

  • Week 10, OHGODOHGOD. Ain’t no PMT like PMT during Marathon training. Think regular PMT but triple the apathy and tiredness. Overall, the horrific T.O.T.M symptoms I’ve had over the past year are improving. As in, people merely observe I seem a bit flat, as opposed to begging me to leave the room/see a doctor.  Still, the grog remains, and two days a month of being braindead is not the most practical of things. “Do periods get better after you’ve had kids?” I asked a buddy, who runs, and has two of them. “No,” she said.  “Oh bugger,” I said.
  • At this point in training, the midweek runs are a bit like going through the motions until the long run at the weekend that really matters: like office temping after graduation, or dating when you really fancy someone else (except easier. For me, anyway…). I’ve stopped double-checking the distances of shorter runs before I go out recently and just headed out with some vague memory in my head. Last Thursday this resulted in me planning a run so I could grab a couple of groceries on the way home, then realising I still had ten minutes to go and having to trot up and down in front of Tesco Express in the dark like a bored pony.
  • Cor blimey, halloumi on pizza is a bit of alright, isn’t it? The Saturday night before my first half Marathon distance since Oxford (with troublingly unavoidable hills), I went to Dan and Angel in Clapham for @out_of_beta’s birthday. Having been forewarned that I would be inhumanly starving and Marathon-engrossed, he wisely sat the other runner in the group near me (hi Kate!) and I chatted most enjoyably to her and another friend I hadn’t seen since we graduated a decade ago (hi Lauren!) Needing something healthily balanced yet carb-laden, naturally, I ordered a halloumi and roasted veg pizza, not sure how this would go down as I tend to find halloumi a bit overpowering. It was heavenly. I went home feeling much, much better about the whole half-marathon-the-next-day concept. And, sure enough, the run was pretty cracking.
  • I’ve been too tired for therapy (like much else) the last couple of weeks but I made myself go today, via an espresso shot to wake me up. If you’ve ever been pelted with bullets at close range as a start to the day, that’s what talking to me after too much coffee is like. “Yap yap something yap yap another thing and another thing AND another thing and OH! NO, WAIT! GUESS WHAT! something else.” Poor woman.
  • On a recommendation from last year, I’ve been reading A Life Too Short, the story of Robert Enke, the German goalkeeper who took his own life in 2009. It’s one of those times when I read something harrowing and stupidly ask myself why I’m getting through it at the speed of someone swimming through rice pudding before I realise: “Yes this book is heavy going because it’s about suicide, ninnykins.” 
  • I’ve now had two sets of professional feedback on Who To Follow, my short play from the summer about social media, politics and mental health. One reader quite liked it, the other basically said it didn’t live up to the promise of the synopsis and my covering letter (thanks mate. Really made my Monday morning, that). Both have completely missed the point of it, i.e that it wasn’t a political rant but about how people manage their political divisions (often badly), their life on Twitter (often badly), and their mental health (same).
  • Convenience food can be pretty bloody inconvenient, actually. On Saturday I cooked successful Quorn enchiladas despite wondering if I was too dangerously tired to chop vegetables. (My cooking at the moment is similar to the “one plate, seven carbohydrates” philosophy of the Hild Bede canteen – except that I actually know what seasoning is…). On Sunday, definitely too tired to cook, I went for a cauliflower cheese ready meal with a jacket potato set aside for such an occasion. It was tepid despite being heated to death. Unpleasant Hild Bede canteen memories swam before me. I was so hungry I ate it anyway. 
  • If my brain was a hard drive, my libido would be one of the pointless but uninstallable pieces of preloaded software that takes a load of wasted space on it, and crashes the computer every time you open it. It’s about as useful to me as a suitcase of Monopoly money under the bed and I may as well sell it on eBay. (“Great item. Slightly used.”).
  • …On the plus side, it’s probably also the reason I will never, ever get bored when Night In My Veins by The Pretenders comes on during a run. Ditto Biology by Girls Aloud: Problematic Fave, and reminder of other ones…
  • I have now run to Beaconsfield and back twice, and sworn at exactly the same point, just before the Red Lion pub, at the bottom of the swoony hills that I’ve just run down and realised I now have to run back up. I never have to run to Beaconsfield AND back ever again, and I am extremely pleased about this.
  • The Power of Love is not a good song to listen to at the most difficult point in your run. Or the most difficult point in anything if no-one’s there with you.
  • Neither is With Your Love by Jefferson Starship. Although you can amuse yourself during the chorus by stopping to wheeze an emphatic “WITH YOUR LOVE!” at passing drivers, should you wish.
  • I got my first sample in fifteen years of blogging. A muscle soothing cream. How exciting! Verdict to follow in the next couple of weeks, after my 18 and 20 milers. Eeeee.
  • Tip: Do not run with Lucozade within ten thousand hours of drinking milk. Unless a trip to the bathroom on your hands and knees particularly appeals to you.
  • I kneel habitually rather than sit with my feet on the floor or legs crossed. This doesn’t seem terribly wise at the moment but I don’t know how to stop. The fact that everyone thinks it’s pretty weird could also be considered a reason to stop…
  • Tip: Do not plan to run the same distance twice in one afternoon. You won’t feel like it. SURPRISE.
  • Drivers who slow down for exhausted runners trying to cross quiet roads on a Sunday morning are my favourite. Conversely, drivers who hoot and speed up when you make a “Please slow down, I’m tired and my legs can’t get me across this road as fast as I’d like” gesture are TOTAL COCKS.
  • “So where’s your Marathon sponsorship page?” The question I am currently asked more often than “Why haven’t you learned to drive yet?” Glad you asked. It’s here. 

EASTER PLANS: An 18-mile run in Hyde Park. As little else as possible. Food. House of Cards rewatch (the original, not the remake). Emotion. Maybe swimming.



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