It occurred to me earlier that I’d shot myself in the foot after that last run. Not literally of course – that would be stupid, even by my standards. No, what I realised was, I’d built my last run up into something so perfect and stuffed with epiphany that my next attempt at that route could never hope to live up to it. Not even if for half of the route I was carried aloft by a gaggle of naked cheerleaders*, showering me with curly wurlies and declaring me their King. Well, maybe then. Also, I’d just read an article by Phil Wilding, in which he described a run very similar to mine in its relative magnificence. The fact that his very next run was, long story short, a pile of poo convinced me that I too was destined for disappointment.
So anyway, I set out. Carb-loaded as before and already risking OCD attempts at replicating the exact conditions of that last sweet run. As soon as I stepped outside I noted that the sky was bordering on a dull grey. Shit. I started out, heading up the road in the direction of the woods, and quickly decided that a slight sloshing of Gatorade in my stomach meant I was going to throw up mid-run. Not that I felt particularly sick (in fact I’m a bit of an emetophobe and would generally prefer to cut my own head off and chuck it under a bus than actually throw up), I’d just convinced myself that my run was destined to be ruined somehow, and what better way than to decorate the pavement with my lunch.
But no, it passed as quickly as it came. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be so easily distracted. Oh look, a squirrel…
By the time I approached the woods, a mile-and-a-half into the run, things were going well. The sky was now a reassuring blue, my legs were light and loose as I warmed up, and I felt myself settling into a comfortable stride. This was going to be another good one.
Brmmmm … brmmmm… brrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!
Ah, the dulcet tone of the mini-moto. I looked over as I ran and saw a young lad on a tiny stripped down motorbike riding helmetless across the field. When I say “tiny” what I mean is, it was tiny for him, an average sized human being. I daresay if I’d have been riding it, I could have been mistaken for a Hells Angel auditioning for Time Bandits 2. He quickly disappeared off into the distance, heading in the same general direction as me, and I soon saw that he was with a group of others near to the entrance to the woods. Usually, I’m not the sort of person who likes to stereotype, but something about being out on my own, practically in the middle of nowhere, unarmed, already out of breath and most likely without a phone signal brought out the Daily Mail reader in me and I convinced myself that these people were evil feral hoodies, desperate to score their next pint of crack. Or something. Not that I was particularly worried – more mindful of the fact that if I got robbed it would really piss all over my run. I pressed on and, predictably, didn’t get robbed or even murdered. Despite my over-active imagination they were just as likely to just be a group of chums, out for some Enid Blyton-esque adventures and innocent high-jinks. Perhaps after their afternoon ramble they’d all go home and build a scale model of the Cutty Sark out of lollipop sticks.
By the time I got onto the track that wound its way round the woods I was really enjoying the run. Although not as sunny or new as the first time, I found that my surroundings spurred me on and I was bounding along quite happily. I should stress that “happily bounding” is how it felt to me – I’d hazard a guess that to anyone else watching, it would have looked like more of a heavy-footed wheezy lumbering. I did my route, and once again passed the group of evil bastards / carefree young scamps as I exited the wooded track onto an open field. Fantastic – what had I been worried about?
And then, I heard something muttered. Something like “Okay, let’s do it”. Right, this is it, I thought, and sure enough I heard footsteps behind me. Mentally, I went into Chuck Norris mode and started drawing up a strategy that involved doing something nasty to their elbows and making them wish they’d never had a trachea. But then, as the two lads drew level with me I saw that they had expressions not of veiled “chummy” malice but of genuine cheerfulness. They asked if they could run with me, and we shared a few moments of banter before they decided that, in fact, running wasn’t their thing after all and they fell back. It dawned on me that they weren’t cider-addled shits hell-bent on setting fire to my ears, but were in fact just being stupid. And THAT I could relate to.
I plodded on, and as I drew nearer to my house it dawned on me, that despite having run a good 3.5 miles at the time (a bloody marathon by my standards!) I’d been able to hold a conversation, albeit a brief one, without gasping for breath.
It’s the little things 🙂
4.31 miles (6.94km), 48:53 minutes
*although if they were naked, i.e. without pompoms or pleated skirts, it’d be quite difficult to tell if they were actual cheerleaders or just clever imposters.