Back in February I told you about this. This Sunday it finally takes place. Seven months of training, of early morning runs in all kinds of weather with all kinds of strange chafing, aching joints and weary bones comes to a head and I will run 13 miles - or aim to run, let's not count chickens - around the northern town which serves as my ancestral home, or one of them at least, along with 54,000 other people.
I don't get too nervous about many things these days. In a few hours time I am due to give a talk at the Reading Festival of Crime Fiction (Reading being a town approximately 20 miles out of London, pronounced to rhyme with bedding, rather than the pastime that brings us all here) about crime fiction and genealogy, and I'm not the slightest bit apprehensive. Yet whenever I think about lining up on Sunday morning, my stomach starts to do the fandango.
|Guy Clark - makes great running music|
It's quite a familiar feeling, akin to the one I get when I've finished the draft of a book, which I know I've worked hard on. You hand in the manuscript, reasonably happy (or email it in, as is the norm these days) and then start thinking and worrying and doubting. Should I have given it another read through? Was that really the best choice of first sentence? Was that really the best choice of first word? And that ending, does it really work? There follows a tortuous silence until your editor gets in touch. There used to be a TV Advert in the UK for Del Monte, who made fruit juice. An Italian farmer lovingly tends his oranges. A helicopter lands, out of which steps a tall, dignified man in a white suit and panama hat. The farmer and his wife look on nervously as the suited man tastes the orange. A horrible pause follows. Then the man nods his head. The farmer runs, arms outstretched, and shouts: 'The Man from Del Monte...He. Say. Yes!' In celebration the oranges behind leapt from the tree with a great shout of joy.
One last point before go and load up on carbs (beer is a carb, right?). I keep referring to the Great North Run as a race. The fact is, I won't be racing anyone. My aim is to finish, enjoy the sense of personal achievement, and ensure all the money we've raised - I'm running with two of my sisters and one brother-in-law - goes to our chosen charity, Breast Cancer Care. However, I did learn the other day that Sting is running the race. There are few people in the world I find more po-faced and dull than old Sting - plus his music truly sucks - so if I encounter him on the final straight I might choose, as one British athletics commentator said of Cuban runner Alberot Juanterena as he sped away on the last bend, to 'open my legs and show my class.' I doubt I'll catch him though. Sting is famously capable of six hour tantric sex sessions. Er, I'm not (He's right. He's not - Dan's wife.)
Dan - Friday