This post is mainly about running.
I have about 10 days left to the Cork City Marathon and the weather outside is baltic (winter baltic, not summer hair armpit german nudist beach baltic). This means that the marathon will be scorching and I will wilt like a wilty thing.
Anyway, the training went well. A few 20 milers, a few 22 milers, a 24 miler in the driving rain and plenty of hills and middle sized runs. My mid-week run made it up as far a 12 miles for the past 4 weeks and in future I think that this run should top 15 miles in order to make the marathon distance seem like an easy race. My mileage topped out at 60 miles a week or there abouts and is now back at about 40.
In terms of tapering I am like a C130 cargo plane coming into land at Sarajevo airport in the 1990’s. I like to drop in at the last minute and keep my taper to a minimum. I’ve tried all the 3 week taper programmes but they just leave me feeling bored and out of shape. I much prefer a week to 10 days so the long run this weekend will be about 14 and then all the other runs will be chopped in half. The 12 will be a 6 and the 6 will be a 3. I might keep a few of the 4 milers so I don’t go crazy but only as a jog.
So, the training went well and I have printed off an entry form for the River Ayr Challenge – this is an ultra (43 miles) in Scotland on 24th September. Printing off an entry form and filling it out (I’ve done that as well) is pretty much me committing to running the race (making a big assumption on getting a permission slip from the boss) but it will also allow me to put a crap day at the Cork City Marathon (read a hot day) in perspective and allow me to keep training happily for a bigger September goal. I have lots of questions about running an ultra – how many piss stops do you take, why does everybody seem to wear loads and loads of clothes, do you mix walking and running for the the harder bits and all that jazz. If you’re a committed ultra runner (not really staring at Dave for this one) this might be your summer to impress me. Your smoking, shaving 16 year old with a Yammy FZ1E to my 13 year old on a Raleigh Chopper. You get the picture.
Anyway, in my occasionally themed ‘getting older’ posts I will try and direct the rest of this post onto to something to do with running and ‘changes’ I’m noticing about myself.
All runners take supplements. Some of these are pretty straightforward and are used by Joe Public and Sally Housecoat as well – things like Vitamin C, multi-vitamins and so on.
There are some that become a habit and apart from expensive piss are probably not much good but the placebo effect makes them seem useful. For me the placebo pills are:
Glucosamine – good for the knees they tell me. I used to spend a fortune on this one and now just buy the cheap one in Aldi – makes no difference.
Effervescent Berocca-style energy job – I think this one actually works – although now I take the Aldi version. Tesco have a cheap one as well.
Some multi-vit with gallons of Vitamin D and calcium in it. Probably not needed as I enjoy my dairy but ‘just in case’
I also must have (to the point of bringing it on holidays with me) seeds and porridge and coffee every morning but this is probably a habit more than anything.
The last supplement I take is a special pill that only runners and other idiots take at the height of their training. It’s called a HTFU pill and you normally pop one very early on a dark weekend morning or around mile 18 of a long run.
A HTFU pill is administered directly to the brain and has little or no effect on the legs or other aching parts.
HTFU is – I’m making a bit of this up so if you have a better description please share it with me – of Australian origin and stands for Harden The Fuck Up. I first came across it in a story about the cyclist Stuart O’Grady who gave HTFU wrist bands to his teammates as a kind of opposite to the Livestrong wrist bands. It basically means that if you’re going to cry off anything uncomfortable then you’ll never achieve anything.
Anyway, I took plenty of the HTFU pills and am now hard as nails, have my hair cut with a no. 2 blade and look dangerous – unless you know me.
The problem with this from a zen point of view is that in the lull periods between the HTFU pills I have found myself becoming a total blouse. I suppose it is all my inner emotions trying to balance each other out so that I don’t turn into a crazed killer from all the ‘being tough’. I have to avoid stories about sick children on the telly because they make me choke up and anything vaguely sentimental sends me for the kleenex. I recently read ‘Her mother’s face’ by Roddy Doyle. It’s a kids book and is beautiful to read and look at but the following words sum up the tag line – only child, depressed dad, dead mother, visited by a ghost of mother, kid looks like mother, I am having trouble reading the book, my daughter says – hurry up dad.
You get the picture.
We got that book out of the library and while we were there there was a lunchtime choral recital (singing to you and me) as part of the Cork International Choral Festival. The recital was by a school choir from Estonia. The same school had been coming to Cork for years and they were really welcomed by those in the know (I was not in the know).
As they sang their songs (a repertoire I think it’s called) all fresh faced and young, with their Estonian flags held in their hands I was just bowled over by their innocence and the empty map that was their future as it lay in front of them. My Estonian is shite so it can only have been my impression of them that did it.
This level of sentimentality is, I suspect, because I have been overdoing the HTFU pills (I hope) and not because I’m becoming an old codger who is finding daisies and buttercups all beautiful .