Harrison recently agreed to run a marathon with three friends to raise money for The Power of Nutrition and increase awareness of the global issue of undernutrition.
Rule 1: Don’t agree to do a marathon two hours into Friday night drinks.
The tale begins at Blind Tiger, a bar in the West Village in New York City. There I am, pint in hand, talking to Paul Donnelly (one of my running colleagues), a frequenter of Iron Mans who was born with iron lungs and tree trunks for legs. Our up-to-now frivolous conversation now turns to exercise, and specifically running.
Having met Paul at university five years before, perhaps I knew of his propensity for platonic sadomasochism, putting his body through grueling hours of training, all for the coveted reward of a vomit-inducing 12-hour race. But then again, university has been and gone and I can feel my inhibitions deserting me.
“So, basically, I found this great marathon up in Maine which I’m going to do in October with a couple of mates, Paul and Anuj. Nothing too serious. Just a bit of a laugh really,” Paul says in his dulcet Glaswegian tones, brushing off the commitment as if it’s a lingering breadcrumb on his trousers.
I wake up the next morning to the pernicious buzzing of my phone. With blurrier eyes, I open my text messages, and see that I’ve been added to the ‘Bar Harbor Boiz’ WhatsApp group. Intrigued and confused in equal measure, I read through the steady stream of text messages, trying to decipher what is going on.
“It’s quite hilly I think”, “Four of us now but the more the merrier”, and “Spread the word” is only adding to my bemusement, and I don’t currently have the brain capacity to disentangle the mystery group chat. I read the group chat title over again, and then once more. ‘Bar Harbor’ is bugging me. I swear I’ve heard that name before. The proverbial bombshell drops. Bar Harbor is the town through which the marathon runs, and Paul had briefly mentioned it last night. I’d willingly volunteered to run a marathon.
Despite the tedious hyperbole and over-embellishment in the above novella, I’m actually quite excited about this marathon. I’ve seen friends upon friends run the London Marathon, and have always been incredibly impressed at their dedication in preparation and achievement at the finishing line. I distinctly remember the buzz I got from crossing the finishing line at the Oxford Half, so can only imagine what it’ll be like on 20th October in the scenic beauty of Maine. Running a marathon has also always been on my unofficial bucket list, and being someone who’s never been a huge fan of the mainstream, why not an obscure marathon to be my first (and possibly last depending on how it goes)?
Let’s not sugar coat it, running isn’t all that fun for me. And I’ll tell you what’s even less fun: running in New York City’s blistering summer heat. I underestimated it completely. For optimal results, you really need to start your run (especially if it’s a long one) no later than 7am or no earlier than 8pm (seriously). I remember going for a run recently at 6.30pm in the height of July, and I could only manage 6 miles before my head was pounding so hard I thought the veins were going to pop out. Similarly, on holiday in South Carolina at the end of August, I went on a run on the beach at 8am, and by 9am I was convinced I had heatstroke and I was horribly sunburnt. Without BBC Sport’s podcast on (Sir) Ben Stokes’ heroics the day before, I probably would have stopped long before. It has certainly been an adjustment period, but I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.
I should probably stop writing now. I need to go on a run. See you at the finishing line.