Countdown to the London Marathon 2021
It’s been nearly two-years of waiting for this day to finally arrive and now, I find myself in disbelief that the Virgin London Marathon is happening, just NEXT WEEK!
I am feeling equal parts petrified and excited which weirdly all culminates in time spent on the toilet, so it’s actually hard to decipher which emotion is what during these final prep days.
Sorry, I will stop doing that, but this is BIG!
I know that I’ve seen this gut-wrenching 26.2 mile distance before when I ran the Virtual Marathon last October along with 37,000 people (worldwide) and we all ended up in the Guinness Book of Records, which for many of you who are reading this and are of a certain age, you’ll now be heading down a rabbit hole thinking about lovely Roy Castle and bubbly Cheryl Baker and THAT theme tune! And without taking anything away from the Virtual event, it wasn’t the experience that I signed up for, understandably so.
But in just a few days time, the roads around central London will be cordoned off as the event comes back to the big smoke!
FARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKKK! (Sorry, I know!)
Over on my Instagram @the_ft_times (see image below) I have been doing a London Marathon countdown as a way of 1) documenting this mega bucket-list event that I KNOW, I will NEVER do again and 2) it gives me something else to do other than sit on the toilet and worry about the correct etiquette should one need to shit themselves outside Buckingham Palace!
Running (as many of you know) plays a huge part in my life, I am a fully-fledged running wanker and in many ways it has become my therapy, my respite, my escape, my healing.
And look, I’m well aware that running itself won’t solve your problems, but it can certainly help you gain the clarity to begin to unpack your baggage and I can honestly say that this marathon challenge has taken me to my ABSOLUTE DEPTHS!
Hours of solitude spent out on those pavements – with the foxes and the flies, the sunrises and the sunsets – will do that to you and all of it has taught me so much about me and my essence, my strength and my spirit – as well as what trainers work best, too!
When I first took up road running (around 6-7 years ago) I would run up and down an alleyway, out of sight from ANYONE because, for some reason, I was totally consumed by feeling like everyone was watching me. What is that shit???
I know I am not alone in this feeling and I often wonder if this is predominantly a female thing; a throwback perhaps from being made to wear awful PE knickers in secondary when your bodies were changing, body hair was growing and periods were starting.
Or some weird South Asian cultural shit-shaming for girls who participated in ‘boys sports’ – I was once told that riding a bike as a girl meant I was feral and ‘loose’ as the actual motion itself was vulgar for a girl to do (FFS!) – and while I enjoyed running/jumping around freely in primary school, I know I became way more body-conscious once secondary started where I was on a ‘forever period’ knowing the male PE teacher would always excuse me from lessons and never question me.
Feeling self-conscious is often the reason why I’ve never joined a gym (ever) and preferred dimly lit yoga classes where I’d secure my place at the back.
And it’s not just about being body-conscious, it’s the paranoia and fear of doing something wrong; the wrong pose, being too slow, or just being bad at something because we need to be frickin’ perfect humans at everything, innit?!!!
I’m still working through this, so apologies if you were reading and expecting me to say that I’ve found the secret to giving zero-fucks now.
As I’ve got older, I definitely don’t care as much; I’m never going to have a flat stomach or get rid of my stretch marks and I can be really unkind to myself but that’s where I’m at and it’d be untruthful if I didn’t say that for at least the first 15 minutes of running, sometimes more, I feel like all eyes are on me; hating, laughing, pointing.
However, while I haven’t quite sussed freeing myself from this toxic feeling entirely, the difference is that now, I absolutely REFUSE to let it stop me from going out there.