2017, the year of the Ox

So, I’ve held back a bit on talking about this, but I fear I’ve done something monumentally stupid. How did it get to this, at what point did my subconsciousness decide that endurance running was an appropriate thing for a fat, balding middle aged man to do. Is this what a midlife crisis looks and feels like, possibly, I’ve just turned 44 and have just bought myself a Porsche so I’m certainly embracing the midlife crisis stereotype! So sure, why not clad myself in Lycra and run around the countryside too, become a Strava-lout, a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). I’m not going full bore and becoming a triathlete, I’m not going to start dropping thousands on carbon fibre bikes and skin tight bodysuits, I’ve not felt that calling. I’m certainly not what you’d call athletic, in fact when I tell people I run you can sense the schoolboy derision, the scoff that they’re holding back out of politeness. I’m 6ft 2″ and currently weigh in the region of 17 1/2 stone, sporting a keg rather than a six pack, a bloated belly from lager, curries and pizza, rather than a sculpted torso from years of crunches and healthy living. I’m a reformed smoker having quit again in February 2016, hopfully for good this time. I’m not what you would describe as ‘Runners World’ cover material. However, runners come in all shapes and sizes regardless of the images the media pump out. If you rock up at any organised running event this will become very apparent, there are people of all shapes, sizes and abilities, very few are these lean chiselled specimens you see flexing and posing on the glossy pages. Sadly this doesn’t quash the sideways glances I get when I tell people I run, or dispel the looks of utter disbelief when I go on to explain that I ran 5 marathons in 2016. No, I’ve not run London, yes there are other ones, yes they were the same distance, in fact in two instances they were a couple of miles longer… oh yeah, by the way, I’ve also entered a 50 mile run in May, yes 50 miles. Thats practically two marathons, back to back, yes and it’s run in one day too, this isn’t split over a weekend. You can practically hear their brains screaming WHAT!! NO WAY!!! HAHAHAHA, GOOD ONE! JOKER!

By day I’m a Unix Systems Administrator for the uninitiated or a Unix Digital Overlord for those of you that are tech savvy. Geeky computer stuff, I won’t go into detail exactly what that entails, all I will say is that if all of the worlds sys admins went on strike one morning, by lunchtime you’d be rioting over canned goods in the supermarket whilst avoiding packs of roaming zombies on the street. Oh and no, I won’t fix your computer before you ask, I’m not that kind of computer geek. Outside of office hours I’m mostly found either running a parkrun, volunteering at parkrun or running/volunteering at some form of race. I enjoy volunteering just as much as running, it’s not quite the same as the endorphin rush you get from running but it is just as rewarding and addictive. It’s certainly more rewarding than grinding out 40 hours a week stuck behind a desk glued to a pair of monitors doing computer stuff that you can’t explain to any of your friends or family without watching them glaze over and become comatose. Quick fetch me the AED, we’re losing one over here!

I’m also a family man, so my day doesn’t end just when I leave the office. I have to juggle my time between family, work and exercise. It always feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, though if there were more I’m not sure I could capitalise on them as I’m almost always shattered and ready to call it a night by half nine. My weekends are usually spent entertaining a six year old princess and attempting to keep a fourteen year old rebel from doing his best to create as many arguments and as much angst in the household as is humanly possible. It’s so very very tiring and time consuming trying to fill this peacekeeper role and I always end up being the bad guy. I’ve tried to get the kids more involved with running and try to get along to junior parkrun on a Sunday with them. They run, or at least perform an approximation thereof, whilst I tend to help with event set up, a bit of marshalling or performing any of the other parkrun volunteer roles available, be it timekeeping or tail running, before then helping pack it away. After, there is usually a trip to get a cooked breakfast somewhere as a reward, it could be also be construed as bribery depending on if you heard the efforts involved in trying to get them out of the house and to junior parkrun by 9am on a Sunday. I have been known to fail miserably and end up at junior parkrun on my own to volunteer, the rest of the family at home in bed.

I’ve barely scratched the surface but it’s a little insight into a typical week and the never ending battle with time. It’s been so very easy over the years to allow convenience meals and junk snacks to become the norm. Reversing that is going to be difficult, it’s a tough cycle to get out of. Lifestyle changes are going to needed if I’m even going to stand the remotest of chances of completing a 50 mile race, let alone doing it any justice. Training time seems to be non existent. The weight is going on rather than coming off. None of this bodes well for May and it’s looming fast. What the hell have I got myself into.

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