When you start running one of your main goals (intended or otherwise) is to get your minutes per mile (or km, furlong or whatever your King has decreed) down to a respectable time. This will help you to feel credible and accepted by your peers and if you’re willing to cough up a lung or can get yourself to be particularly scrawny you might even attract some sneaking admiration.
You never really measure your miles per hour but after a marathon you might regale those too polite to tell your to fuck off that you ran thee whole thing at between 8 and 9 miles per hour.
I was at a safety training course yesterday in Killarney and after a day of hazard identification, implementation of control systems and everyone’s legal responsibility I was eager to get out the door to put in a few miles on the local mountains.
This was another one of my ill-conceived and even more ill-prepared ‘I’ll do a bit of hill running‘ adventures. I had reccied the course by reading Thomas’ blog from a few years ago and then looked-up the walking route up Mangerton on the internet and thought: That seems like an easy plan.
So, as I sat in my car, all alone in the driving rain, having lied to my wife over the phone that I was just going for a few miles around Killarney to un-wind after the training course, the idea of being discovered dead on a mountain passed through my head and then I remembered my mother’s words: What are you? a sugar lump? A bit of rain never hurt anyone!
And I climbed out of the car to get changed and then climbed straight back in as it was too wet to change outside the car.
Once I had grown a pair of balls I was out of the car again and with my dear mother’s words in my head I started the run…………
…………….into horizontal driving rain (and right past the warning sign that said (in essence) that only fools went up a mountain in the rain in a pair of shorts and a vest on their own and told no one and they deserved any cruel and painful death they got. My day of hazard identification and control measures was now a distant memory!
The plan was to run up-hill for about 30 minutes and then to come back down in about 15 minutes. This was on the logic that descent is easier than ascent.
I can’t show you the photograph of me with the idiot’s grin halfway up the mountain as my phone is currently sitting on the kitchen worktop in about 7 pieces trying to do a Jesus and resurrect itself following the drowning it received yesterday.
The run up was fine – mainly hard scrambling as the gradient was pretty punishing – but the main problem was the rain and what it was doing to the path.
I can safely say that when it comes to my time to out-run the bloodhounds in my escape from a southern jail through the bogs and swamps I’ll pass with flying colours.
The route up the mountain was a river. Not kind-of-like a river. An actual river.
The up-side to this flood was that my shoes are spotless after the run. The down side to the flooding of the walk meant that my toes eventually started to go numb from the constant immersion in water and after about 32 minutes and just shy of the Devil’s Punchbowl the powers of reason took control and I decided that I’d better head back down.
(My hill running motto to date could read: Better to run away today and live another day – or I only go out in bad weather)
Anybody who has done even a small amount of hill running (i.e. me) will tell you that it is made up of two parts – lung bursting, leg killing hill scrambling and comedy child-running-down-a-grassy-bank descents.
Except if you can’t feel your feet
and the ground is flooded
and the rocks are very hard.
So, after a few minutes of trying to leap down the hill only to narrowly avoid breaking a vital bone (wrist, elbow, pelvis, and tibia all auditioned for the part of compound fracture) I realised that conditions were conspiring against me and I trotted down at a pedestrian heart rate of about 106.
The gently stream I had forged on the way up the mountain was now a churning mass of whiskey coloured, sheep shit scented mountain flood and I had one of those moments where I pictured my predicament as the opening scene from a particularly sadistic episode of Casualty where I take a will-he-be-discovered-or-left-to-die-with-the-sheep bang to the head.
After a bollock soaking forging of the stream it was a pretty ordinary run back to the car with some enjoyable bog surfing moments.
As I stopped the watch at the car I noted that I had covered 3.03 miles in 1 hour and 4 seconds.
If I had stout walking boots, a pack lunch, a flask of hot tea, a map and compass and had left my itinerary with the local pub I would be a hill walker.