Monday, 8 September 2014
There is a famous scene in Only Fools and Horses where Trigger is having his photo taken after winning an award for owning the same broom for 20 years. (The one with 17 new heads and 14 new handles). And either Del or Rodney encourages him to smile. Trigger replies: "I am smiling."
That's kind of what I'm like today.
If you saw me, you'd insist that I brighten up a bit. And I am trying. But yesterday's Great North Run almost physically did me in. On the Metro back into Newcastle after the race, I was in deep conversation with a charming fellow runner who seemed to know as many people from Portstewart as I do. Without warning, I broke out in a cold sweat, started to feel disorientated and felt on the point of fainting. I had no option but to excuse myself and sit down on the train floor before I fell on it. I remained there for the rest of the journey eating Jelly Babies as my kindly new mate fanned me with his jacket. A couple of steak bakes from Greggs at the other end re-established some sort of equilibrium, but I still have a little way to go yet.
And yet, underneath the clapped-out middle-aged man exterior, I'm sickeningly happy.
The reasons are three-fold. First, I completed the course without stopping - other than to use "the bathroom" (I went behind a street sign) - after four miles. And whilst with a time of 1:52:27 I was almost five minutes slower than last year, the heat and the fact that I'm now a physical wreck meant that it truly was all I had to give.
Second - and much more importantly - the grand total raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as a result of my little misadventure now stands at more than £1,100. The credit for that does not belong to me, but to the long list of kindly souls who gave so willingly to a such wonderful cause. Your efforts will forever stand as a lasting tribute to David McClarty and Margaret Maciver, my friends - your friends - who will never be forgotten by those of us privileged to have known them.
And finally, the best news of all. I am never, ever doing the Great North Run - or any other half-marathon or above - ever, ever, EVER again. I'm finished, done, it's over. I have come to the end of the road. (Do you see what I did there?!) I am officially retired. Yes, I will take part in the odd 10k here and there for "fun," but that will be the extent of it. I hope you approve.
(Please note that I didn't say anything about cycling. Thought it might be worth pointing that out. No plans. Just saying. Cycling).