This post is mainly about running – a long neglected topic on this blog.
The post title could (and does, in reality) refer to several different things.
It refers to the clicking of my ankles every morning as I come down the stairs.
It refers to the clicking of my left knee for the first mile of most runs.
It refers to the clicking of my hips when I stretch the joints before running.
But the real thing it refers to is the click in my brain that took place about 10 days ago when I finally stood on the edge of the (metaphorical) desert of training that has existed since my Cork City Marathon of early June of this year and realised that if I was dumb enough to say I was going to run an ultra marathon then I had better be dumb enough to train for it.
So, like a man arriving late to the pub to find most of his friends already half pissed, I have started to get my act together so that I don’t end up as a complete mess at mile 30 (being a complete mess at mile 35 I can live with).
The getting my act together started with ditching my New Balance 1080’s (the latest version of my shoe of choice) which had caused me untold pain in the hip region due to some American consumer desire to have running shoes changed every year. I then made an appointment with the physio to have my hips fully stretched (only a man can fully stretch your hips – as an avid follower of Viz Top Tips on twitter I have the sort of sense of humour that can laugh at this joke for weeks). After than I went on-line and bought 2 pairs of last years shoes (the 5-pairs under my bed, all used – New Balance 1064).
And then I actually did some running.
About 42 miles last week with a 16 mile long run last Sunday. I reckon, based on nothing more than a hunch, that for a 43 mile ultra I need to have mentally run about 30 miles or say, about 5 hours on my feet. I’d have to do it physically as well but as the post title implies, most running involves mental commitment more than owning 2 working legs. The 16 miles went by in a little over 2hrs 15min so I reckon a slowing of the pace to nearer 9 min/mile and starting to experiment with food types and I should be able to make it to 30 miles in training.
Now the fact that in less than 7 weeks the ultra marathon will be over means that I am setting myself up for a very steep up-curve on this challenge but I laugh in the face of fear (and sneak into the bushes for a nervous shit).
The main reasons for not clicking into a training routine before this were the multiple distractions that go with the summer holidays. We did the two weeks in Italy and then we did 4 days camping in a field in west Wales and I was down in far west Kerry in a place called Gallarus this week for a bit of camping.
Now if I lived in war-torn London or even Birmingham or Manchester then a farmer’s field would grip me like an agrarian shangri-la but I come from a small Irish city and I spend my summer’s on my cousins’ farm so I know what a cow smells like and why you shouldn’t poke a stick in a wasps’ nest (a true story for a future blog post) so some of the magic of pissing in a ditch was lost on me. That said, Pembrokeshire and the coast along there is beautiful.
But they (the inhabitant’s of said West Wales) seemed to have gone through a period there from about 1820 – 1900 of being particularly poor at sailing and minding children. To remind myself that I am but a mortal man I like to visit random graveyards and read the inscriptions on the headstones. I read these out in a deep and sombre voice in order to scare my kids. I found myself reading the inscriptions on the headstones in Newport and St. Dogmaels and was struck by two things – all (I mean all, not a few, but all) the men died while out sailing around the world and all the kids ‘departed this life’ at a shockingly young age.
Lovely headstones mind you. Just shows you how much we take jet planes and childhood inoculation for granted these days (and good parenting, obviously).
If you’ve never been to West Wales I would strongly advise you to go. It’s the sort of place you’d enjoy despite yourself. People are very honest and you get to live in a town with a professional caravan dismantler called Elvis.