I’m looking at my running shoes. They lie, rather meekly now, in the corner of my bedroom. A piece of paper has fallen into the left one. They betray few clues of the horrors they have witnessed. They are just simple symbols of traumatic times past. Once upon a time merely catching sight of those shoes would send me into a guilty sweat – knowing they should be attached to me, knowing that I should be training.
But that was then. And now it’s more than four days since the London marathon ended and there is no longer a reason to run. Which leaves me feeling a bit empty.
Sure, there has been no shortage of food – I’ve eaten like a buffalo since Sunday. It’s just that I feel sort of emotionally vacuous. I thought the exhilaration of the achievement would have lasted longer than your average cigarette. I was expecting a higher high, a happier happy. But then maybe I am still exhilarated and I’ve just got used to the feeling.
Whatever. I know it’s always best to step back and wait a few days until you pass judgment on important events. Not advisable in air traffic control, but if you have just experienced the nearest thing to multiple surgery without anaesthetic it’s important to remain calm, make no rash movements, no rash statements.
So I can, with the benefit of time, assess my endeavours: I survived and I got round and that’s what counts. As the pain has subsided, so too my memories of the day have become clearer. The crowds and buildings, colour and friends, the noise, the music, the streets sticky with fallen sugary drinks. The first miles full of happiness and hope, the legs working perfectly, feeling fine. Then the last miles, the quite indescribable pain, the fear that my body could shut down and leave me still. And finally the end, the relief and the promises of never again.
Now it’s back to life. I’ll have to watch my body. It’s been a while since I let it loose in restaurants and pubs. I’ll have to learn how to go out in the evenings without shaking my legs and stretching.
And I’ll have to decide what to do with those shoes with which I have bonded. Maybe I’ll bury them with ceremony, place them in a cabinet, put them in my attic. Or maybe I’ll wear them again. Like an old hired gun going back to his favourite weapon. Indeed, maybe I’ll keep them there in the corner of my room, put them on again, go for a jog, run another run with my friends.
Munk finished the London marathon in 4 hours, 37 minutes. This is his final column.
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