I am sitting here, eating my porridge (made with coconut milk, raisins, G&B's chocolate and crunchy peanut butter), in anticipation of my first 20 miler later this morning. And, well, I am nervous. Let me put this in context. The furthest I have run to date, continuously, non-stop, running all the way, is 15.5 miles. Just over a week ago I ran (with a small run-walk bit at mile 15) 17 miles. The furthest I have ever walked is 18.5 miles, along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, and that adventure had breaks and a lunch and some stopping-to-rest-the-legs-or-enjoy-the-view moments. Granted, I was carrying clothes, food, camping gear with me, but...
So how do I feel? Like I've just gone to Big School, walked in the gates, and seen how big it really is. It is flippin' massive, larger than I can properly comprehend. If I go back to First School, the playground seems wee and tiny, where it once was large and mysterious. Middle School, where I have just been, started out large and unfathomable, and yet now just seems comfortable. Big School? Frankly, I am a little bit scared.
We all know running is a physical, mental and spiritual endeavour. Physical capability is heavily influenced by mental strength and spiritual balance. It pares everything down to the runner, with each run as a challenge, be it the first ultra-marathon or that should-be-easy-but-gods-I-hurt-and-it-is-so-bloody-hard three miler. It is about facing each run to the best of your ability, self-belief and sheer bloody-mindedness, regardless of whether or not you beat that challenge. The attempt is the first step, the big step, the pun that gets you on your way. After that, it is all about the run.
So, I may well be intimidated about this 20 mile run. I may lack confidence in whether or not I can do this thing today. I may even wish that I was back in bed, eating a bacon sandwich and finishing off William Gibson's excellent novel "Zero History". I may be all these things, but, in the end, I will be going for this run.
I am a runner, it is just what I do.