I shouldn’t do it. Couldn’t do it.
It’s too far, they said.
If ever I needed an incentive.
And knowing that other mere mortals had trodden the A Coventry Way before me - and even a few notable mavericks that had conquered two consecutive laps (FFS) – I felt compelled to challenge the doubters.
OK, fair enough at four weeks out, when I was hit by a still-to-be-defined illness that left me exhausted after simply plodding up a flight of stairs, I must confess I had moments where I questioned whether I should risk putting my body under any additional pressure. But, in the end, if anything, this fly in the ointment deepened my resolve and made me pull up my (compression) socks and big-boy (moisture-wicking) pants that bit higher.
So, there I was, 6.55am, 14 May 2021, Kenilworth War Memorial, tummy full to the brim with a heady mix of porridge and butterflies.
It was a special day for fellow runner Sue, who was celebrating her 60th birthday in style. She was met by friends and family at the start who got up early to give her a proper send off and, as is customary, adorned her with a tiara to mark the occasion.
And then we were off. Into the glorious Warwickshire countryside. And the unknown.
The conversation soon began to flow, and while we steered clear of divisive topics such as politics, religion and the best-ever X-Factor winner of all time, we kept ourselves entertained with Mensa-esque discussions about cake, toilet habits and masturbation.
I felt good, magnificent even, for the first 10 to 15 miles at least, no doubt reaping the rewards from Ian’s meticulous training and nutrition plan. The couple of miles that followed were the toughest for me psychologically as a nagging blister began to develop and the realisation hit that we still had a marathon or so to go. Nevertheless, there was only one option in my view and on we marched.