Last year I boldly stated in this column that I would attempt a marathon. A bloke who hadn’t done any serious running in years, apart from a few short gallops to avoid large dogs, debt collectors and pitchfork waving mobs, was going to attempt a forty two kilometre Fun Run.
A few laps around a nearby school oval convinced me that I’d drastically overreached myself, so I shortened the goal to a half marathon, and put together a more realistic training regime. That was the easy bit. The rest has been a blur of sore knees, throbbing tendons, and an involuntary tendency to kick Long Suffering Wife while I sleep.
Summer’s extreme humidity made it feel like I was jogging neck deep through hot water, so when the weather cooled I hit the road again; back at square one. My training schedule required further revision; in an air-conditioned room, surrounded by snacks and drinks.
Thus, on Good Friday while saner folk slept, I joined hundreds of others for the Gladstone Road Runners’, Annual Easter Fun Run http://www.gladstoneroadrunners.com/ . Prior to the start, I assessed my fellow competitors, ignoring the folk who looked like greyhounds, focussing instead on the porkier, less fit looking runners. I shamefully admit that I was thinking, “Yeah, I can beat him, and her, them, whatever that is, and surely him as well.” It really saps your confidence when all those ‘losers’ dash past you at the start and disappear into the distance.
As I shuffled towards the halfway mark, Brett, the club president, announced to the crowd, “Hey, here comes Greg Bray! He writes in The Observer, maybe we’ll read about his run on Monday? He’s also doing a marathon this year!” The astonished mob gawped as I hobbled by. I’d been planning to lie down in the gutter, but now I had to keep going.
Half an hour later, I approached the chequered flag like ‘The Mummy’ on a slow motion rampage. Stopping only to steal a piece of watermelon from a small child who had been cheering me on, I flopped across the finish line. Later, as I lay on the ground, my legs quivering like tuning forks, I pondered three things: First, I had eleven more kilometres to go to complete a half marathon. Second, I was going to need some serious help to achieve this goal by July, and Thirdly, why on earth is it called a Fun Run?!