Picture the scene... 

I’m sitting at our kitchen table, fiendishly refreshing my email inbox to see if the message containing my ‘exclusive’ link to a Manchester Marathon place has dropped. 

The last bibs are being released at 6pm and I know I have to be ‘on it’ to ensure I don't miss out. 

I don’t think whoever decided to release these places at this time has children; 6-8pm remain the witching hours in the Armstrong household. 

I pride myself at being able to focus on my work, even if there’s a lot going on around me.  

I’ve had to knock out match reports and/or interviews in football stadiums amid a din of 50,000 people; somehow you filter out that noise. 

However, I’ve never been able to do that with my kids – they operate on a different audiological level that can override all those filters. 

Lara ‘needs’ a drink and wears the expression of someone who might pass out if they don’t get one within the next minute. Logan has just remembered he hasn’t had dessert yet. And still the email hasn’t dropped. 

Texts are flying around with friends all asking the same thing... have you got your place? I was speaking to a friend going through the same process when we both suddenly received the link... here we go. 

With Lara downing an orange squash and Logan smashing into a hastily-made chocolate spread sandwich to fill him up so he doesn’t wake in the night (don’t judge it until you’ve tried it...), I start filling in all the necessary boxes. 

I’m almost there when suddenly I’m put ‘on hold’... and I’m being told to refresh the page for when more places come up! 

Suddenly I start entertaining the concept I might not be running a spring marathon this year.  

My London place fell through at the last-minute and I parked the idea of the Copenhagen Marathon in May after shelling out on a place at Berlin again later this year. 

Now it felt like a place in Manchester was slipping through my fingers.  

I cursed how this was being handled before remembering that I’d had months to secure a place but had left it to the last-minute... a very Mark Armstrong thing to do. 

I wasn’t sure I wanted to run Manchester having had a difficult experience there in 2018 but when the prospect felt like it was being taken away, I felt a little bereft. 

I can almost feel my ‘stress’ score on my Garmin exponentially rising with every passing moment. 

I continue to refresh for what feels like an eternity (it was probably about five minutes) and then, upon changing to a different browser, I’m in! 

I feel like I’ve won... except at that exact moment I couldn’t have felt less like running a marathon having been laid low with a bit of man-flu recently. 

But that will pass... and I’ve got about a week or so now before a marathon training plan properly kicks into action. 

That familiar feeling of nervous excitement is returning... and it would be rude not to celebrate by buying some more trainers, wouldn’t it? 


Cross Country 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Norfolk Cross Country Championships on Sunday and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I missed out a little by not competing. 

Well done to Tyler Bilyard and Mabel Beckett on their respective wins but there was some really good running right the way through the field on what is a tough course with a couple of tricky hills. 

I’ve made a promise to myself to try and make it happen again next year... but there’s a lot of running to be done in the meantime.