I am constantly harping on to my wife (and anybody who is too polite not to get up and walk away) that I’m not mental like the other people who enjoy running.
What follows is an account of how I am starting to realise that I am completely self-deluded. But having great fun all the same.
I had a meeting in Roscrea yesterday that would involve lots of ‘round table discussions’ about ‘governance standards‘ involving ‘key stakeholders‘.
You get the impression; all laudable but just above sticking sharp pencils in your ear as something to look forward to. I knew the meeting would drag on and as my wife’s car was in the garage I would have to make it home early enough to collect the car so an afternoon run was out of the question.
So, what to do? I did what anyone else with a dopamine reuptake inhibitor problem would do, I came up with a stupid plan to satisfy my craving for excitement.
This started by engaging in a twitter conversation with a sub- 18 hour Bob Graham Round runner about how long it would take to run up (and down) a mountain called Temple Hill (785m) in the Galtees – about 50 miles from my front door. The conversation went on throughout the evening and after checking things out on the internet it looked like 90 minutes would do it. So I thought I’ll allow myself 2 hours and we’ll see how it works out.
The next morning, yesterday that is, and at 07:30 I’m standing in my underpants in a pub car park in a tiny village called Anglesborough somewhere between nowhere and nowhere. A man in his underpants in a pub car park would elicit the answer ‘stag weekend’ from 99% of the adult population in a word association quiz. To the other 1% it is because thy have a chance for a quick run before work. To make things harder I’ve travelled by motorbike, it’s raining and I’ve forgotten my running socks so I’m wearing my suit socks to tackle the mountain.
I had to hide the bike gear, suit and meeting stuff in a farmer’s field. Not great in heavy rain but years of gathering motorbike gear means I have plenty of waterproof storage ( waterproof storage is a motorbiking term for a good bag).
Equipped with more enthusiasm than sense I set off up the road and soon found myself wading through cow shit (ankle-deep slurry) and slogging up the hill that leads to the mountain.
As I climbed into the low cloud cover and the visibility reduced to about 30m I knew that my chances of reaching the top of the mountain were slim. I couldn’t see it and didn’t really know the route (that is a massive understatement by the way).
My revised plan was simple – keep going up.
I climbed through forests, freshly felled areas, bogs, fire roads and eventually, after an hour of slogging I called it a day as I had to allow for getting back to the world of work.
While slogging up hill it can be hard to think – this is great, isn’t it? Your heart rate is north of 160 and your legs are burning. But, as you stop for a drink or some sort of pause you do have those indescribable moments of knowing that you’re doing something you really enjoyed while the rest of the world was busy.
As I headed back down the hill I had a few minor panics as I realised that I was completely lost. I was having one of these fuck-shit-fuck-shit moments when the boy scout in me took control from the panicky runner lost on a hill.
I made it back onto the right path and as I hurtled down the farmer’s field the valley below opened up. The photograph below doesn’t do it justice. I was a beautiful sight.
The descent through the fields was at full tilt – arms swinging and suppressed giggles as rabbits ran for cover.
Then it was back through the cow shit and about a mile back to the pub car park. In total it was about 9 miles in about 1hr 40min but with plenty of pauses for this hill is too steep/I’m lost or both.
Life had started in the village (the shop was open) so after a sqaddies shower (vigorous rubbing with a towel and lashings of deodorant) I was suited and ready for the meeting.
Just an hour to cover the 65 miles to the meeting. But this is a running blog and not one about driving at an appropriate speed to match road conditions on a motorbike (a term used by bike cops the world over for speeding).
I mightn’t have made the top of the hill but I now have a fair idea of the route and will give it another shot once I get a better day.
I used my old NB 1064’s for the run and their lack of grip, lack of an out-sole and generally being knackered meant that I was doing plenty of proprioception training while doing the run.
Still, a €50 pair of off-roaders arrived in my office today and while they might not match my foot shape they should get me started on the whole thing.
Finally, tonight marks the start of the West Highland Way Race. I have been thinking about this race for at least 6 months and in equal parts I’d love to be there tomorrow and am glad I’m not (not least becasue the 9 months of training for it seem like a bigger hill to climb).
To all those running/supporting & crewing – good luck and enjoy – if you can.