Saturday, 20 September 2008

Now I'm in Scotland.

It's the 20th of September, 2008, I'm in a hotel room in Dunbar, Scotland, I've just had a pretty decent meal downstairs and I'm thinking I might be ludicrous and go to bed quite soon. This is ludicrous because it's only 9.45.

The window's open because I'm smoking, in direct contravention of the law, apparently, and the room is being quietly annexed by various and numerous flying things and this is making me a bit nervous. The last time I left the window open in an insect-heavy environment I was bitten to all get out and spent a week or so feeling very, very sorry for myself. Still, this dicing with pain attitude seems to be improving the flavour of the cigarettes so.. The little bastards can have a go if they want.

This marathon, then.

I can't really think of much to say about it just now, except that I was a little disappointed to find that it comprises of two virtually identical laps. IE you run 13 miles and then run the same 13 miles again. This in itself is not much of a problem - it's not as if I'm concerned about the aesthetics of the course or chafing at the laziness of the Swedes for just rustling up a half-marathon and doubling it. The problem I can forsee, pessimistically, is running 13 miles then having the whole environment screaming at me for the next 13 "You're still nowhere near the end!" "You've only just got to half way!!" "Now you're coming up to that bit that nearly killed you 3 hours ago. You know.. the really STEEP bit. You're not gonna make it, loser!"

I regularly play gigs in Aarhus, Denmark, and they consist of, at the weekends, 4 or 5 hour sets starting at midnight and going on till, you'll never guess, 4 or 5am. Sometimes, around 2am, I get hit by this crippling ennui because I know I still have 2 or 3 more hours to go before I can get to bed, and those 2 or 3 hours are going to be EXACTLY like the preceding ones. This, even on a good night sometimes.

I'm not sure that this a valid concern, or that it's not just me bollocking on about something that most people would just take in their stride, as it were, but it's nagging at me.

Now, though, I'm suddenly bored talking about that.

As it will be my 40th birthday on the very same day, it looks like a bunch of friends and possibly family will be coming out to Stockholm with me. Some will want to come to cheer me on, I hope, and some will want to come to witness the highly amusing possibility (right at this moment it seems more like a certainty) that I'll collapse after about 500 yards and they'll all be getting pissed that night in a bar sympathetically close to the hospital, toasting my stone's-throw recovery and chuckling over the footage on their mobiles.

At least, it being Stockholm, they'll be chortling and getting hammered very expensively, which will cheer me up no end. 

Well, I think it's time to see what's on telly. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I'll be in Edinburgh, sniffing around the water in Morrisons. Exciting, eh?

The Stockholm marathon.

I'm doing the Stockholm marathon next year, on my 40th birthday.

Mad, eh?

This is what 
says about it:

"Stockholm is an unusual marathon. It challenges your preconceptions both of Scandinavia and of marathon running. It starts at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon in early June, when the weather is warm and balmy and the city is full of loud, boisterous crowds. By the standards of London or New York, it's a small race, but it doesn't lack atmosphere - with healthy crowds throughout much of the two-lap, city-centre course. The race is designed to highlight the city's wonderful location on the shores of the Baltic, and to demonstrate the friendliness and efficiency of the Swedes. It's not a particularly fast race, but Stockholm in June is a big consolation.

The course: Two almost-identical loops, starting outside the 1912 Olympic Stadium and finishing on the track inside. There are large, flat sections of the course but enough undulations, particularly on the loop around Djurgarden and the various bridges, to break your rhythm.
Highs: Finishing on the track inside the 1912 Olympic Stadium. 

Lows: Passing the kilometre markers on the first lap, knowing you have to run 21km before you see them again.

Watch out for: The crossing of the Vesterbron at 35km. The bridge is only a 90ft climb, but it feels worse the second time around. 

Size: 12,000+ 
Month: June"

If you've never heard of the Stockholm marathon before, don't frown about it. I hadn't either. To be honest I wouldn't even be doing this if it weren't for the fact that it takes place on my 40th birthday. 

I would, however be doing a marathon somewhere or other at some point soon. For a few reasons.

At the end of March a dear friend of mine was killed in a hit and run (though the driver did come clean, he did the right thing in the end), at the age of 42. His name was Ollie Nicholls and he was simply one of the best men I've ever met.

He was the keyboard player in Sevenscore, my band, and he was an extremely gifted songwriter, performer and producer in his own right.

Most importantly, he was my friend, and losing him was hard to bear.

In the days that followed his death, aside from fruitlessly kicking the crap out of a shoestand and yelling insults and threats to the darkness that took him so soon, I vowed, if that's not too poncey a word, that I would do something to remember him by, even if only, solely, for my benefit.

So I had the idea of running the London marathon - figuring if Ollie could run 13 miles every morning despite, at least in my witness, some impressive assaults on innumerable (I never counted, but you don't when you think there'll be more than enough time to reciprocate) bottles of white wine the night before, then I must be able to pull out just one ludicrous bit of jogging (and then go up the Nash and get utterly spannered, of course).

Of course, if Ollie were still around he could probably set me straight on that. I'm sure he'd be very gentle about it, but would nevertheless leave me a little more educated in the whole running thing and less inclined to take it lightly.

But Ollie is not still around. I have to make up the stuff he might say and probably get it wrong.

Anyway, here's the plan...

As I write this there's just a little over 252 days to go to the big run, and I figure it might help me rationalise the whole daft enterprise to chronicle it all 'online' (apostrophes courtesy of my dad). So that's what I'm going to try to do. This, for crying out loud, is my blog. My marathon blog. My wittering on about bugger-all blog.

You mustn't expect much from it, though, at least not for a while. I've generously, I think, allowed myself till the 13th of January before I have to start (risk?) training, though I'm sure I could spratch a little longer if circumstances got in the way.

Right, it's late and I'm tired. I'm not going to bother with reading and attenuating what I just wrote. I'm going to bed. In Ripon, of all places.

Come back soon.