When John Worsfold hits the finish line at tomorrow's New York Marathon, he will finally arrive at the start of the rest of his life.
Having stepped down as West Coast coach in September after 27 years at football's elite level, Worsfold's second marathon preparation has been part of what he calls the "long service leave" he has never had.
In an interview before the race, Worsfold, 45, outed himself as something of a childhood Forrest Gump. He said he would use the race as a brutal physical challenge and detailed extreme weight gains and losses during his time in football.
The Eagles living legend also said running to raise money for the Little Heroes Foundation for sick children former Adelaide Crows captain Chris McDermott set up gave him enormous drive.
"When I train, I think about being on my own with no one knowing that I'm training and it doesn't matter if I go a bit easier," Worsfold said.
"But then I think these kids don't have a choice, so I don't have a choice and keep going.
"I use it as my motivation."
Worsfold remembers how, as a child and young man, he simply loved to run.
"I'd run to footy training as an 11-year-old and train and then I'd run home," he said. "I'd never just walk home, I'd run home."
After starting as a midfielder, Worsfold's running ability took a hit when he began an intense regime of weightlifting and protein shakes in a bid to better handle the AFL's most explosive forwards such as Denis Banks, Gary Ablett and Dermott Brereton.
"They were big heavy blokes, all 90-plus kilos and I was 82 or something," he said.
"So I thought, 'I'm going to have to be stronger'. Over three or four years, my weight went from 82 to 84, then 87 to 89 kilos and that affects you. I'm 180cm. Daniel Kerr and Chris Masten are 179cm and they play at 79 kilos. You put 10 kilos on and you just can't run anywhere near what you should be able to run and basically that's how I spent the rest of my career. Late in my career, that started to cost me as teams started putting more running half-forwards on me. I was just so big and heavy when I should have been built like those guys. When I finished, I had a rest, but after six months my body started to feel good and repair so I started running more.
"Then 12 months after I'd finished playing, I started to wonder why I retired because I was feeling like a 30-year-old, which I was, rather than a 45-year-old, which I wasn't."
Worsfold's love for running was rekindled in early 2008 when he and his West Coast assistants suited up for regular, competitive 30-minute runs.
That soon increased to 10km every time he pulled on his runners and he has already almost clocked up his goal of covering 2000km this year. He now runs at least 15km each session and cut back his diet for fear his weight was ballooning out of control.
"I thought I was going good because I'd maintained my playing weight for 10 years," he said.
"But 18 months ago, I realised my natural weight was about 82 kilos max and that's when I started losing my weight.
"In July last year, I snuck up to 93 kilos and I thought, 'I'm kidding myself, that's getting obese'.
"That was the time I knew I wanted to see what it was like to be my natural body shape."
Worsfold lost 6kg training hard for last year's Chris Mainwaring legends match and by Christmas was down to 84kg.
He is now a "comfortable" 80kg and hit back at critics who claimed he had looked gaunt and worn out as his Eagles coaching career came to an end.
"People were starting to tell me I was too skinny and was looking ill," he said. "But this is what I really should look like. I looked too healthy before."
Worsfold said his friends mocked him over a picture in his now-baggy old suit at the 2013 West Coast season launch.
They said he looked like Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, who wore an absurdly big white suit while singing Girlfriend Is Better in the 1984 concert movie Stop Making Sense.
Ultimately, Worsfold dropped two suit sizes and had to replace his shorts, jeans and belts.
Worsfold said painful leg cramps after 30km and straight-legged shuffling "like Cliff Young" to finish his only other marathon, in Perth in 2008, gave him great anxiety before tomorrow's race. His promise to push his stamina to its absolute limit only fuelled that feeling.
"It would have been funny to watch," he said of his Perth run.
"I'm a lot more aware of what can happen this time and better prepared, but it's unknown.
"I'm mentally trying to convince myself that even though I want to run a better time, I can do that by pacing myself better in the first half.
"That's where it's getting hard because up to the 12km mark you're feeling brilliant and loving it because you're flying along. But if you're flying along, you're going to be in a world of pain potentially at that 30km mark.
"My hope is that I get to 38km before any of that happens.
"The unknown is that the long runs I've had have been basically without drink stops, so I've got to be confident that I'll be hydrated better before I hit that wall.
"One of my biggest fears is that I don't go hard enough and that I'm running towards that last 5km thinking I could have gone one or two minutes quicker.
"But I'm right at the limit in my timings and I don't think I'm going to have anything left.
"I'm planning that in the last 5km I'll be just trying to find the energy to get to the line. I'll be going hard and just thinking about one foot after the other."
Worsfold ran just under 3½ hours in Perth and plans to better that time.His two-time premiership vice-captain Michael Brennan, former Eagles rookie Clancy Rudeforth and former WAFC chairman Neale Fong will form his support crew.