I’m a runner. That’s what you’re supposed to say to yourself every morning, according to the book. I’ve given it a try, but like most off-the-peg incantations, it doesn’t really resonate. Of course, the literal truth is that I am a runner in the sense that I go out and run. But I rarely feel like one, except on those few glorious occasions when I just… flow. The dictionary definition is at odds with the reality of someone at my age creaking up the distance to just complete the 26 miles in a mentioned-in-dispatches time. Maybe this is why I’m attracted to the thing. I like walking lines; being half in and half out of things; going round the edges. It’s been the blessing and the curse of my life.

The New York City marathon is immensely popular, and many thousands of people were disappointed that they didn’t get a place. Good runners. Able, keen runners who’ve been doing it all their lives. The main marathon Facebook thread has been filled for months with people bitterly upset that they didn’t get a place, and similarly people excited beyond their dreams that they have one. People ‘do’ New York as the highlight of their running lives. Last night someone expressed incredulity that I was doing this, and not for the first time, I was asked “why?”. “Well, because I find doing things like this interesting.” “Yeah but why go all the way to New York to do it?”. “Ummm, it was kind of an accident.” I feel I have a place that someone could use better. I know someone might get more joy out of doing it than me. But… it’s a lottery. Literally! That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ve pushed all the money into the middle now.

I have been musing on what the achievement is going to be like. Fuck ticking the ‘life’ checklist. Anyone can tick boxes. You can, if you like, just walk the whole course, and some people do – it would take you 9 or so hours (although they start reopening the roads after about 6). It still ‘counts’, and you still get a medal from the New York Road Runners, and your name in the New York Times the next day. But it would not be much an achievement if you were physically capable of running at least most of the way. If you were 100 years old, it might be. Some people miss their target time by a minute or two and get upset at a wasted opportunity. Tears of rage and frustration, while a hour later a person crosses the finishing line behind then in tears of ecstatic joy that they just made it round. The marathon is clearly anything that you want it to be.

I’ve worked it out. I’ve put as much into this as I reasonably can. The only way I can fail is if I fail to give it everything that I can give it. Like Sky Masterton in Guys & Dolls, I have to be the man who “will bet all he has, because nobody can bet more than this.” That will be enough.

Time to prep for tomorrow. Am going out into the unknown again (well, Richmond). Stick Neu! 2 and Neu 75 on the iShuffle in preparation. Mind like river. Mind like water. Soothing Krautrock flows. Alpha waves. Something like that anyway.

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