My computer hard disk crashed yesterday, which seemed appropriate. It wasn’t the only hardware that was suffering.
The Bath Half Marathon last week gave me a useful opportunity to experience the thrill of racing again, and to assess my fitness levels.
The appalling weather also offered a good ‘dry run’ (if that’s the correct word) for running a race in the wet, if that’s the weather which should be served up by the London Marathon.
A successful day, but I’ve paid for it since. My legs have been stiff and heavy. My motivation’s been tested, and found wanting. Hell, I felt tired. I still do.
In geology, you learn about time. About a lot of time.
As I look from my window upon the Surrey Downs, I see the Chalk and Greensand hills, walked by pilgrims heading east to Canterbury for eight hundred years and more. That seems a lot of time.
But to the Earth, it’s nothing. Our planet is around 4.6 billion years old, give or take a few. That IS a lot of time.
A new perspective is required, so let’s imagine the Earth’s own lifetime as a marathon course. The longest journey, but even in this unimaginable race, every 100 million years meant just one kilometre en route from Greenwich to The Mall.
A familiar sense of anticipation, and a race at last. The last few weeks of training have gone by in a flash, and it’ll be good to see how I fare on the road again. After weeks and weeks of running into the dusk, at last a bright and sunny morning. I’m feeling pretty good today as I open the curtains and look out. Spring seems to have arrived at last, and I can feel it in my step as I bound down the stairs for a big breakfast.
My mother makes me a mountain of toast and marmite, the sun streaming now through the kitchen window of my youth. It’s a perfect day, and time to get ready. I pull on my favourite racing kit and try to imagine the race, how it will feel. I focus on the good feelings – calm, cool running through the early miles, feeling the distance kick in, but staying with it. For as long as it takes.
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night
God said “Let Newton be!”
And all was light.
A hundred miles north of the capital, the A1 London – Edinburgh road crosses a forgotten and largely empty swathe of farmland. Forgotten because today it’s on the way to somewhere, but at the centre of nowhere. And empty because of what happened here more than six centuries ago. The Black Death arrived suddenly in Lincolnshire, in September 1348, but, within a few weeks, a third of the population was dead, and this once prosperous and populated piece of agricultural England lay devastated.
It was marvellous to meet Steve Cram once, at the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago before the marathon.
Then, a few weeks ago at the school Christmas production, Roger Black sat down only two seats in front of me.
‘Excuse me, you don’t know me, but…’
No, it wasn’t going to work, so I sat there silently and tried to remember.
It’s an unsatisfactory sort of place now, but once it must have been a pleasant hamlet beside the River Wey.
This oft-flooded piece of grazing land, named in the Domesday Book of 1086, now carries the name of Old Woking, dwarfed by the newer town to the north.
A Saxon monastery once stood here, but when the railway arrived in 1838, nine astonishing years after Stephenson’s Rocket had changed travel for ever, this was a blasted and empty heath. Woking Common was just a deserted staging post as the tracks grew to Southampton in the west and Portsmouth to the south. Continue reading