This morning was the first real autumn day – the sort of fresh, crisp, clear morning that has been missing for the past month where we’ve had indian summer/indian monsoon (delete as appropriate).
It reminded me of a time 26 years ago (old, I know) when we were dragged out of bed one early October Saturday morning to go and see some famous cyclists gather up the road from us at the local Nissan garage for the start of a stage of the Nissan Classic.
It was, in our young brains, still the summer but as we shivered outside the garage that morning I knew it was autumn.
I remember seeing both Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly that morning along with all the other perma-tanned cyclists. It would be great of me to say that the reason we went up there was to see our cycling heroes but that would be a compete lie. No, the reason we went up to see them was the hope of some free stickers (none appeared) and the promise of a ‘continental breakfast’. For anybody who has munched on a warm croissant and a cappuccino in a café in France I want you to take out a pin and pop that little bubble of fuzzy frenchness you have hovering over you at the moment.
You’ve got to remember that in 1985 in Ireland the only place you could get olive oil was in a chemist shop and wine was only drunk by winos (some things haven’t changed).
No, a continental breakfast in 1985 was some squeez orange juice and a donut cream eclair.
Still, it beat the arse off of a bowl of cornies.
I remember seeing both Roche and Kelly and noticing a subtle difference – this was 2 years before Roche’s famous Giro/Tour double and he was still on the way up – Kelly, on the other hand had been around a while.
Roche was very bubbly, chatty and engaging. Kelly, on the other hand, had the middle distance stare of someone who had seen to the other side. Physically he was there – he won the classic that year – but mentally he was in a trench at the front line killing with his bare hands.
Over 2 decades later, my brother-in-law was cycling beside Kelly on the Sean Kelly Tour (a 1 -day sportive) and as they approached a feeding point everybody went for their electrolyte drinks and energy gels. Kelly reaches into his pocket and pulls out a penguin bar.
Anyway – that was my autumn memory.
On the running front I am surprised at how quickly I have come back – physically – from the River Ayr Way Challenge. One of my hip/pelvis/spine joints is a bit sore and with a bit of attention (which I will ignore until almost crippled, no doubt) should go away. The knees, feet and muscles are all back and working fine.
Mentally though, I’m still in the trenches with Kelly.
Most of my day-to-day interactions are with normal people who think 5 miles is an un-natural distance to run so 40 miles is for people who’ve seen the third secret of Fatima. I’m happy enough to bask in the superman mode for another week or two. After that it’ll go away and I’ll be back to normal.
In terms of what’s next and where to I’ll hold off on giving any hostages to fortune for a month or so. Last Sunday I was asked if I was going to do a ‘sneaky’ Dublin marathon and, although the thought had crossed my mind, I said I wouldn’t. I live in a family of non-runners and all the distance stuff on the weekends does tend to lead to a dad who ‘enjoys’ farting about on the couch for the afternoon so I think it is only fair that I give the super-long stuff -over 2 hours – a break for a few months. This will also allow me to get back some leg speed. I went out last Sunday for a routine 8 .3 mile loop that makes up the basis for all my long runs (1 – 4 laps of it) and managed to get one of the miles down under 8min/mile (7:58). There was a time when I could do all 8 of the miles in the 7:10’s – 7:30’s so a bit of leg speed might be a target for the next month or so.
A month of easy running and random blog ranting is on the agenda and then who knows? The Clonakilty marathon in December? The Wicklow Way Ultra? The Art O’Neill challenge?(You’d think I’d have learned my lesson on the running of races with challenge in the title).
On the subject of random blog rantings (as if this hasn’t been random enough yet) I have 2 more memories of the River Ayr Way Challenge – this will give you an idea of how random my mind can be:
- Somewhere after Failford (around mile 25) I started to notice that someone was dropping Hariobo Starmix on the trail in front of me. I was starting to wonder was I in some sort of Hansel ‘n Gretel re-make.
- Somewhere further on again (I think) – it was certainly past Catrine (mile 20) – I remember having to leap over a pile of man-shit (unless the cows eat sweetcorn in Ayrshire) that was right in the middle of the path. It struck me that I felt like I was in some sort of bizarre bingo shit game as I had, by that stage, found rabbit, sheep, cow, dog and human. What was next? Horse? Pig?