Five Green Bottles

I’ve been drinking again, and had no option but to send myself on a punishment run

Five beer bottles and a Strava map

THE TONY ADAMS Memorial Eight Mile Race is not like other running events.  

For a start, the Arsenal and England footballer it’s named after isn’t dead.

Also unlike other races, ‘The Adams’ doesn’t take place at a fixed time every year – but erupts across the athletic calendar on several random days, often in clusters, like zits on a sixteen-year-old’s chin.

And there is only ever one participant: me.

That’s because The Tony Adams Memorial Eight Miler takes place whenever I fall off the wagon and feel the need to punish myself.

I’d first got the idea from Adams’ memoir of his alcoholism, Addicted, where he described working the drink off by training with a bin bag under his kit.

I wasn’t going to go that far, but I had my own targets.

The night before last, I’d got cracking on the Budvar early and had to ask Mrs Shit50s to bring some reinforcements on her way home from the office.

It being midweek, I didn’t go silly – but I’m not proud to reveal that there were five green bottles gazing empty and reproachfully at me when I staggered into the kitchen yesterday morning.

“My legs were stiff as a quiff as I climbed up the hill outside my house, stepping gingerly over the first of a hundred dog turds bejewelling the circuit.”

But I already knew what I was going to do: drink several mugs of tea to rehydrate, get the running togs on, hit the streets and sweat the beers out.

I knew that each bottle had put approximately 200 calories into me: calories that would eventually end up around my waistline unless I staged an intervention – and fast.

And, because I shed about 200 KCals every mile I run, around five miles would put me about even – at which point I would be able to look at myself in the mirror again.

But then I remembered the crisps, and the chocolate and the massive curry I’d also put away…

Better make it seven miles – no let’s say eight, to be on the safe side…

I didn’t feel that ill, but my legs were stiff as a quiff as I climbed up the hill outside my house, stepping gingerly over the first of a hundred dog turds bejewelling the circuit.

What was making me sick was the thought of what a third run in five days – and an eight miler at that – could do to my dodgy knee. However, I was quite prepared to crock myself again if it proved that I, and not the drink, held the upper hand.

There was a tough little moment around 10kms when my knee and my stomach did a little duet of protest at their respective workloads – but I also felt strong enough to ape Adams a bit, and kept my thick hoodie on for all but the last mile.

I nursed myself (slowly, slowly) around the course, although near the end I was blowing a bit – and almost came to a complete stop going up a late incline, despite my thighs pumping for all they were still worth.

But then it was over. Strava confirmed that more than 1,700 calories had been burned on the altar of my stupidity: the slate was clean again and The Adams was over for another year week whatever.

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