In 2014 Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniaki ran the New York marathon in a time of 3 hours 26 mins and 33 seconds (according to her Wikipedia page).
In 2016 I ran the Belfast marathon in a time of 3 hours 35ish minutes (my Wikipedia page seems to be down today so apologies for the lack of precision).
Yesterday Caroline Wozniaki won her first ever grand slam title at the Australian Open.
Yesterday I ate two bowls of Coco Pops, three bagels, two jumbo sausage rolls, dough sticks with garlic butter, a giant anchovy pizza, some garlic bread, twelve chocolate chip cookies and six packs of pickled onion Monster Munch which I had bought as a surprise for my son.
It was actually quite a restrained day.
I went to bed last night with the familiar mixture of feeling bloated and frustrated.
I don’t want to run a marathon again.
But at the same time I’d like to be able to go into a Chinese restaurant without the manager hurriedly announcing that the All You Can Eat buffet has just closed.
Just somewhere in the middle would be nice.
And so, with the Rocky music going through my mind, I set off this morning for my first run in more than a year.
A short jog. Nothing too dramatic, just a couple of miles to alert my long-suffering body that we’re entering a new phase. The comeback has commenced.
It started well. A decent pace, good form, regular breathing…. and then I got to the end of my driveway.
It hurt. The muscles in my legs whined in protest (‘I thought we’d seen the last of this shit’), my lungs emitted a noise not dissimilar to the mating call of an obese, asthmatic, diabetic walrus who’s just discovered there’s no fish in his local Lidl.
I started to suffer hallucinations. At one point I believed I was being chased by a giant Monster Munch. My mouth was dry and tasted of anchovy and Coco Pop. My tongue felt like velcro stuck to the inside of my cheek.
I ran a little (not as far as I’d planned), then I hobbled a little. Then I sat on the edge of the pavement and tried to thumb a lift back home.
The running top which had once hung from my lithe, thin frame was stained with sweat and clung to my heaving stomach like a tarpaulin thrown over a dinosaur egg.
I found myself wondering how good Caroline Wozniaki would be playing tennis with a bowling ball strapped to her stomach.
Eventually, mercifully, I made it home. A desperate, sweaty, steaming mess. My wife ran a bath. My son removed my socks.
It felt quite good. I might even do it again.