THREE and a bit weeks to go.
Bit of a disaster the last few days. After my long run a week back on Monday I had a sore right knee and foot.
I don't know if it was a strain that came from the repetitive movement of the running or something snapped, or maybe I am just too old and worn out to do this thing properly, but I was not able to run until the middle of this week.
I am still (just) on track, but I will be short of the overall mileage I'd prefer to have done before the race.
Anyway, I am looking forward more and more to Belfast. My manager/critic/nutrition consultant/wife and I are flying over on the Sunday, meeting friends for an evening out, then a good sleep in our accommodation, before the holiday Monday event.
We are staying within a short walk of Belfast City Hall where the start is, so after some porridge for the slow-burn carbs and fruit, juice and a big cup of tea, I will amble over to the runners' area.
No doubt some local manic gym trainer will be holding a mass warm-up to get participants going, and I will have a wander around to see if I know anyone.
At races in Glasgow and Edinburgh over the years, it has been impossible to go 10 paces without bumping into friends, colleagues or acquaintances. But even though it is unlikely there will be too many Glaswegians, lawyers or karate practitioners, Lycra-clad strolling about Belfast, I am sure there will be great community spirit among the thousands of runners.
Indeed I am delighted that it is Northern Ireland I am going to for a marathon. Having had the chance to work over there for the Law Society of Scotland when I was president, the people are warm, generous, funny and full of personality.
That's not why I picked the Belfast City Marathon. It was purely a question of dates and timing.
I got the marathon idea, if you recall, from seeing my daughter Hannah completing the Loch Ness race in October. I realised that I would never get into London, New York would not be practical, and I didn't want to wait a full year and do the Inverness event, so I surfed to find what races there are in the UK in the spring time. Until this week, the project has been mainly about training, charity and writing up my progress for you.
IT is only now, at less than a month to go, that the reality is sinking in.
Indeed I realised a few days ago that I had not done any research on the race, including the route, so I went on to the race website to look at the map.
I also happened to talk to Thomas, a colleague in the Evening Times office, who comes from Belfast and has run part of the route as the member of a relay team (why didn't I think of that).
According to this distressingly slim and athletic-looking chap, the course has a lot of nice flat stretches but after nine miles it takes you on to the Antrim Road that Thomas says is a rising road that is just hard going forever.
Anyway, I am determined to finish. The wife will be primed at the line to snap me as I sprint/stumble/crawl/weep across the line, and will ensure the pic is whisked to Evening Times HQ ready for the verdict on the Long-Distance Lawyer. Hold the front page!
Let's hope my knee holds up. I shall keep you posted.
l Remember my charity page at www.justgiving.com/AustinLafferty in aid of St Margaret of Scotland hospice.
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