I am a very normal guy. I like beer and I like football. I like exercising and I like to muck around when I get the chance.
More often than not this involves running amok like a wannabe gang-banger around a fictionalised Los Angeles or scoring the occasional world cup winning goal on FIFA.
For the most part, I play by the rules.
I’ve never been arrested, I’ve never been disciplined at work* and at school, I never once got a detention.
But there is one thing more sure than any other to raise my heckles; being told I cannot or sometimes even worse, should not.
It is only fair fortune that has stopped my friends, family and teachers** working out that in order to get me to do something, they should wager that I cannot.
I bet you can’t…has long been the reason for me to try something.
…jump this stream, climb this cliff or fix this. Or don’t try that, don’t go that way, don’t have another drink…
Sometimes it ends in abysmal failure, sometimes I manage to complete the task to little or no reward but more often than not, with a “it’s my life” attitude***, I get it done or hurt myself trying.
When I received my A Level results, my Moby-looking media studies teacher actually laughed in my face when I told him I’d got three “B”s rather than the three “C”s he’d predicted.
Then he realised I wasn’t kidding and congratulated me.
The same aim to outdo expectations or prove predictions wrong applies to running. The more of a challenge or the more dissenting voices I hear, the more I want to have the last laugh or push the final yard.
Even when those voices are my own.
So when my friends laughed at my 14+ stone Hurley-esque frame attempting a half marathon, I went method. I stopped drinking for the first time since turning 18 and ran like my life depended on it.
Now I am attempting something a little longer, the words are no longer disbelieving, they only convey incredulity not now aimed at me but purely at the formidable distance.
100 kilometres evokes words I can’t repeat from people too respectable or mature to be mentioned here.
But every questioning or challenging word sounds to me like the horn of the hunt as a fleeing fox looks to begin ascending a hill.
If by some miracle I reach the top of Ditchling Beacon and the final strait towards Brighton racecourse in one piece, it is likely that I have got there spurred on as much by those doubting voices as much the encouragement.
*for the most part I am disciplined, but I have not been disciplined…yet
**this post has annoyingly alerted them to the fact
***quote actually taken from my littlest brother and episode with a canoe somewhere north of Auckland NZ