I promise, the final allusion to Les Miserables. Why do I do this? Is this quality writing? Or is it total drivel? And (whichever it is) is there anyone out there that actually wants to read it? And do I care? It started simply as an appendage of my fundraising effort. But it developed a life of it's own. I enjoy doing it, particularly going back and reading and re-reading it, a treasure chest of thoughts and experiences. This should have been my final reflections on running Paris and supporting London. And then, out of the blue, the North Dorset Village Marathon comes along to join the party.
The State Of The Nation Address
A couple of years back I was privileged to visit Dorchester's twin town Lubbecke, acting as a guest (back row) cornet player with the Durnovaria Silver Band. I hasten to add that "back row" rather overstates my competence as a cornettist. By rights I should have been dumped off the coach at Dover ferry port. On that visit another of the guests was another Keith, "Keith the Bass Player". This gentleman lived and breathed brass. He was simply a bass (tuba) player with a frame, personality and voice as big and as deep as the instrument that he played so ably.
But I never wanted to be defined by something that I do. I never wanted to be Keith the Golfer or Keith the Cricketer or Keith the Guitarist or Keith the Fell Walker or Keith the Quizzer. I never wanted my life to be dominated by one thing to the exclusion of others for fear of missing out on some other experiences. Jack of all trades ... Yet strangely, as I approach my 58th birthday, I seem seriously at risk, for the first time ever, of being thus typecast. At work, I keep getting stopped by people asking "How did London go?" (hmmmm – well actually it didn't!!). "Ah well – I went up to support this year – brilliant experience". Strange to say but I'm rather liking becoming, de-facto, Keith the Runner!
Usain Runs It Like Hayley
Sitting outside a pub and Hayley was holding court relating her recent VMLM experience and another club member, off the back of running London and North Dorset in a week (in a combined time of about six and a half hours), described it as the perfect marathon. Eat yer heart out Usain … imagine … Usain Bolt runs it like Hayley … arrived at start two hours early … freezing cold … bumped into Carl Lewis … Carl says he’ll come over and share my starting blocks … ran first 10 metres alongside Carl .. Carl decides to push on ahead … 45 metres … stop to take selfies crossing Tower Bridge … 55 metres … where are husband and children? … burst into tears … stop to phone husband … 65 metres … see husband and children in crowd … stop … burst into tears … 80 metres … spot supporters in the crowd … stop … burst into tears …95 metres … spot training partner in crowd … run across to barriers and give training partner biggest bear-hug in history … burst into tears … 100 metres … finish … more selfies … receive magnificent medal … one of the greatest moments of my life (barring marriage and child-birth) (and meeting training partner ;-) ) … disqualified for running out of lane … burst into tears (n.b. coming soon – hopefully – Hayley Howard – guest blogger of the week!).
Everybody Raise A Glass ...
The distilled essence of one person’s run – a microcosm of life. But where does that leave me? It would be easy to trivialise what is just a (bloody long) run. But for me, the challenge to run a marathon in under four hours was, by a distance, quite simply the greatest challenge I'd ever set myself. Totally arbitrary. If they hadn't come up with such a daft distance? If there were a more sensible number of hours in a day (say ten, or twenty, or even twenty-five)? The challenge might have been totally different. But that was the challenge. And the elation I felt when crossing the Porte Dauphine in April – the instant in time at which I knew that NOTHING was going to stop me from beating that challenge was simply one of the greatest of my life to date. If I could only bottle it!
My Everest and I've conquered it. Hell – if you’re not going to challenge yourself and push the boundaries, then I wonder what is the point? (hmmm and I can't help but notice that if I could just find another ten minutes or so out there, in a couple of years time I could be looking seriously at London GFA!) I feel such affection for my three bloody long runs. I can’t help wondering (some more) … will I feel the same way about my 180th. But for now there they sit together, each with its own character. I think of the parenting that helped to nurture them. The mistakes made. The lessons learned. And I love them all (equally). My babies!
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