Marathon madness: The long run home

Fitting all this in is not easy. Bulging bag of doom is in the centre

Training for a marathon does weird things to you. I find myself thinking about 13th April all the time. What will the weather be like? What will I wear? Most importantly, will I finish it?

Now, as part of my training I’ve been running part of the way home from work. This involves me taking a rucksack packed to the brim with all my clutter and changing before I set off.

Initially, I feel quite trendy strolling into the office with my fluorescent pink bag swinging on my back. This is what loads of people do. Because that’s how we roll. (yeah, I know.)

The first time I did this I had an image of me transforming from everyday employee into super sprinter, slick and ready to go.

At the end of the day (literally), here’s how it actually went:

1. Enter work toilet

2. Go into disabled cubicle for room to unpack/pack

3. Take everything out of rucksack

4. Change out of work clothes, put in rucksack

5. Put on running clothes

6. Put left shoe, wallet, umbrella, right shoe, make-up bag, notebook, assorted clothes in rucksack

7. Observation. “Rucksack is small”

8. Try to squeeze jacket into rucksack

9. Sit on rucksack like suitcase trying to pull up zip

10. Put rucksack on back

11. Shoe in rucksack digging into back

12. Unzip rucksack, take everything out again

13. Cram it all in again, put back on back

14. Oyster card, keys and work pass still lying on toilet floor. Reminiscent of crime scene

15. Unzip rucksack, put items inside

16. Finally leaving work

17. Need work pass to get out of work

18. Open rucksack, get out work pass to buzz door

19. Finally leaving work

20. Colleague informs me sock is hanging out of rucksack.

21. Push sock in, nearly jamming rucksack in revolving door

And I’m off. Yay.

Central London at 5pm is pretty busy. Start dodging and darting past people. The Evening Standard sellers. The suits and heels. The tourists…whack. Run into one. Apologise profusely while still running, raising hand in a bizarre gesture and turning my head, almost causing second collision.

Now I’m on Oxford Street. Lots of lights and traffic crossings. Even more people. They’re thronging the streets.

Eventually I break free, and manage to get onto a slightly quieter stretch of road. Ankle is sore. Then top of leg is sore. Then bum is sore. Then leg is sore again. I plough on, trying to ignore the unwelcome resurgence of my boot hell which is boring into my back. It’s combined with the rhythmic jingle jangle of change in my pocket. I think I want to kill someone.

I know, I’ll phone my mother. Will take my mind off things. Beep beep. Beep bee…  “Hello?”

“Hi mum”

“I can hardly hear you”

“I know, I’m running”

“You’re what?”


“Oh right, I don’t want to bother you when you’re running- why don’t you call me when you’ve finished?”

“No, it’s cool, can chat now – I’m used to talking and running.”

Turns out I’m not.

By the end of the conversation I’m almost running sideways into a tree, cartoon-style. Whoever says women can multi-task lied. Although I have had coinciding thoughts of hitting ambling people round the head with a rolled up newspaper while swearing out loud at myself for taking on this crazy challenge.

Finally, I’m at the tube station. But first I need to eat. Snickers and bottle of Lucozade consumed at record speed.

1. Get on Tube

2. Tube is busy

3. Hot, sweaty and smelly with rucksack precariously perched on dripping back. Fear fainting, judgment and pilfering in equal measure.

4. Finally get seat. Old lady looking at me as if I am an alien. I mean, I don’t look like this all the time, woman! For goodness sake.

5. Three young, uber-fit runners get on. Not a hair out of place. Great.

Off Tube. Running again. Realise haven’t zipped bulging bag of doom properly. Stop. Repeat suitcase move to get zip up. Keep running. Lace undone. Stop to tie it. Run again.

Get home. Stretch. Stretch again. Stretch again. Stretch again. Bored. Wander aimlessly around living room with hands on hips.

Fiance comes home. Looks at me.

Me: “Don’t. Just don’t say anything.”

Go to get bottle of water from bag. Open bag. Greeted with squashed banana. Remove it from bag. Swear. Zip bag up again. Zip breaks. Leave room.

* I’m running the London Marathon for Prostate Cancer UK, in memory of my grandfather. All donations are very much appreciated. My sponsorship page is: Or text OVGF67 & amount (£1, £5 etc) to 70070. Thank you so much.


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