If you've read this post, then you will know that I am training for the Paris Marathon in April.
What I didn't mention was that I'm not doing it alone.
Before signing up and committing, I asked James if he would like to do it with me. His response? "No thanks, Carly. Marathon running doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. I'll come along to support and wait at the finish for you."
Fair enough, hey? I think he had romantic notions of sitting in a pavement cafe in Le Marais watching the world go by, sipping café au lait and eating a pain au chocolat, whilst I slogged my guts out running 26.2 miles.
TWENTY SIX POINT TWO MILES! Just have to emphasise that...
I was fine with that, anyway, as I figured it would be lovely to have some company on the trip and enjoy a couple of days before the marathon sightseeing.
I told my soul and sole sister, Gemma, about signing up and this piqued her interest too. She's a seasoned marathon runner anyway, but was lured with running through the charming streets of Paris and the promise of alllllllllll the croissants. I think she realised how much running a marathon meant to me, and being an all round good egg wanted to support me on the physical and literal journey.
When Gemma then mentioned it to her husband, Charles, he was on a high after running his first ever marathon and achieving an incredible time. And so they both signed up and surprised me with a screenshot of their entries to our group chat. That's friendship right there, isn't it? The only snag was that the marathon was the day before their eldest's tenth birthday and they didn't want to be away from him on his big day, naturally.
With all four of us now heading to Paris in April, Gemma and I had a lightbulb moment. It fell during the school Easter holidays, so why didn't we take the children with us? Each family has three sproglets apiece, so we could hire a minibus to cram the ten of us into and make a real adventure of it. A couple of days in Paris before the race, the day of the marathon itself and then the day after we could go to Disneyland Paris for birthday celebrations (whilst walking like John Wayne, no doubt).
Heck, why didn't we make it a proper little holiday?
We could rent a quaint French farmhouse in Normandy or the Loire for a week or so afterwards to recover and enjoy quality family time and copious amounts of celebratory vin rouge!
Sounds like a plan.
Except my darling husband (who wasn't running the marathon, remember, he was just coming along for the ride) was less than enthusiastic about supervising six young children (ages 12, 9, 8, 8, 4 and 4) in Paris on a springtime Sunday morning.
So he signed up for the marathon too.
He had carefully weighed up the pros and cons of (a) looking after 6 well behaved and well mannered children in Paris with all of its museums and attractions to occupy them with; and (b) running 26.2 miles that he was adamant didn't interest him, he probably wouldn't train for (he's more of a sprinter - undefeated champion of the Dad's Race at school sports day), and would no doubt injure him in some way.
Months of gruelling training and boggy, cold winter miles to reach the summit of a marathon just so you don't have to look after six children for a few hours in Paris.
His official line is that "he might as well do it if everyone else is", but we know the truth, don't we? ;)
This is the same man that, upon signing up, complained that he had no spare time to put in the long runs. He works hard in the week and is very involved in our children's lives - doing at least one school run for each child per week so he can keep in touch with their different schools, coaching a football team on Saturday mornings, taking them swimming and to the gym... you get the gist. I'm hoping this redeems the bad light I've painted him in as honestly, he is never one to shirk his parental responsibilities and more than pulls his weight as a Daddy.
If he was going to support me in my dream of running a marathon, I wanted to support him too. I had a think and suggested that I took Reuben to rugby every Sunday morning for the rest of this season. It wasn't his 'job' to take Reuben every week, but he enjoyed cheering him on and had got to know the other parents.
He now had allocated, protected time to do his long run each week and I was confident he could fit in the shorter runs either before or after work on days he opted not to go to the gym.
Perfect. Everything's coming up Milhouse.
Except he then decided that he would utilise this free time on a Sunday to sign up for a local over-35s football team (he's only 33. WTF?). Brilliant! Interval training, he said.
I couldn't help but laugh. You can lead a horse to water, and all that...!
I guess my point is that I shouldn't be concerned with his training (or lack thereof), as he will no doubt rock up to the start line on April 8th, bash out 26.2 miles with a decent time and then lament what he could have achieved if he had actually trained. It's a pretty familiar story. He's got a great level of residual fitness and muscle memory, but more importantly he has a strong mind. When the going gets tough, he keeps going. Much as in life, really.
I need to concentrate on my own training and the real purpose of this post is to provide an update on how this has been going for me.
Well, it's not.
Despite the best intentions, and crashing into the second month of training deliriously fuelled by half marathon success, I did. not. run. a. single. mile.
I've got all the usual excuses, of course. I had a child sick for over a week. I had to go to my eldest's school for meetings. I had my Dad stay for a few days, a couple of times. We had busy, jam-packed weekends.
But none of this is valid, really, as I still could have trained. When you make it your priority, you make it happen. Simple.
I've struggled with my moods this last month, which you might have picked up if you've read any of my recent posts prior to this one. My focus has shifted from chasing my dreams to just staying well.
Usually, I would beat myself up at this perceived failure.
I may even have given up entirely and written the whole thing off.
I'm not going to do that this time, though. I've flipped it on its head and acknowledged that a month of not training after a continuous stint of running for 18 months will not do me any harm. It's good for the body to rest, isn't it?
I can pick up running again, when I'm mentally ready. I've realised that the biggest barrier to me successfully running this marathon is my mind.
So this month my training has consisted of zero miles on foot, but a million miles in my head.
And in some ways, that is much tougher.