My lack of posting on this blog over the last few weeks has more to do with me actually running than a lack of random thoughts flooding through my brain.
The running has been going better than I had hoped with a 20 miler about 9 days ago and a 24 miler last Friday. the usual mid-week 4 to 6 mile runs are also keeping the fitness going in the right direction.
The 24 miler was particularly satisfying as it took place with little of the angst and fretting that these long runs usually bring. Friday is an unusual day for me to knock out a long run (normally Sunday mornings) but as we had decided to go camping in west Kerry for the weekend I knew it was the only chance I had to keep the long runs going.
With most long runs you get some sort of special insight that opens another door to your understanding of what you and you body are capable of. My special insight this time was not to eat a spicy chickpea curry the pervious night.
The run was fine apart from that.
The camping was also a good laugh. You have to have a sense of humour to go camping in Ireland (or anywhere in northern Europe). We (I mean me) had decided to go camping to introduce Finola’s side of the family to the joys of drinking wine from a tin cup in a field in the rain in the dark.
I have a philosophy that if you don’t look cool to a 4-year-old boy then you are clearly fucking things up somewhere.
As luck would have it I have a 4-year-old nephew (and a 4-year-old son) who were there to let me test my theory. I had been impressing them with stories of pissing in the hedge, compulsory eating of toasted marshmallows and ghost stories over the past few weeks and with school staring in just over a week this was going to be our only chance to see if I looked cool.
It all went well until the 4-year-old nephew started running around the campsite naked shouting ‘I feel so free!!!!’. Luckily his mother was there and I didn’t have to do anything except laugh and say ‘good man’ to him. Apart from the repressed naturist the only other thing to enjoy was watching the French/Swiss/German/Spanish folks sitting in the constant rain looking miserable. The fact that we (us and all the other Irish & British) were having great fun in the rain just seemed to upset them even more. It’s like that thing where because the person you’re with is miserable you’re happy and the more miserable they get the happier you get – some sort of passive/aggressive game I suppose.
From the tile of this blog post and the holiday snaps you’d thing: Hardly the work of a man who can only communicate with his big toe. – And he looks nothing like Daniel Day-Lewis.
No, the post title has more to do with my running exploits yesterday.
Yesterday, after another meeting involving risk registers, standardised practices and governance control I had a few hours to try to conquer my first fuck-up on the mountain running challenge from a few months ago. The fact that I could now see the summit made me realise two things: How had I missed something this big the last time and this thing is really big!
I parked up and set out around 4:30pm from Anglesborough (pub car park) and made my way for about a mile or so (Garmin was sitting on the desk in the bedroom) to the road turn-off. If you fancy trying this route just run past the Liam Lynch memorial and then when you get to the farm gate with shin-level cow shit that nobody would seriously run through you know you’re there.
After ascending the grassy fields I could see the mountain in front of me. The last time I tried this I couldn’t see the top of the field I was in with the mist.
The only inkling you had that it was 785m tall was the tiny white specks you could pick out (the sheep).
So, on I went, still running a bit until I came to the end of the wooded section and started to climb. This was where I could only be defined as a runner by the lack of stout walking boots and thermos. A flimsy vest and a hydro-pack marked me out as a runner. there was no running for this section – mainly because it was cripplingly steep.
In my head I had broken the ascent into manageable thirds and as I approached the end of the first third I thought to myself – this isn’t fun or interesting. All I’m getting is a sore back, wet feet and an appreciation for sheep shit. It’s only when you stop and look back that you realise that it is worth it.
And then you start climbing again.
Start in the village to the left of the wooded hillock, run around the hillock on the road and then climb up through the fields to the left of the wooded area and then down through the fire-break that separates the felled and standing trees and then on up and up and up the hill.
The strange thing was that the higher up you got the easier it seemed to get. I don’t know why this was. The last third – the steepest bit – was the easiest. I think this had as much to do with the fact that you had to scramble (hands and feet) so you were mobilising fresh muscles.
After about an hour of this sort of thing I reached the summit at about 17:30 and after signing the log book, taking some photographs and generally feeling great to be alive I set off back down.
I initially started to descend with trepidation – mainly because I like being alive – but I could tell that my jerky movement lacked fluidity and rhythm and that this was not good (a bit like a Catholic wank really).
As I came down off the top rocky steep section I found the ground under foot to be excellent for bouncing down the hill like a show-off skier on a slalom course. I was able to see three or four leaps in front so I was able to bound down with some real pace.
Then, just as I was wondering whether the shoes I was wearing (Adidas Kanadia 4) were a size 11 or 12 as the fourth toe on my right foot was a bit sore, disaster struck.
My left foot missed it’s placement and with my leg extended down and away from my body (think lateral downhill breaking) I hyper-extended the ankle.
Of course at the time I didn’t think that. All I thought was what the fuck is that twanging noise? Oh fuck! My foot! The pain! The pain! I want my mummy!
As I lay on the ground holding the ankle thinking about people who had to saw off their arm to make it back alive (not that I’m an amateur dramatist or anything) I was wondering how I’d make it back to the car. I reckoned I was at least 2 miles (of mainly downhill off-road running) away from the car.
I did what anybody stupid enough to think that this was fun would do.
I got back up on the damaged foot and kept running.
The foot was pretty loose anyway and that, coupled with the endorphins, would keep the pain at bay until I got back to the car.
Surprisingly enough this worked out OK (for getting back to the car) but the moment I stopped running and the foot realised that we were out of danger of being savaged by a sheep it went into total spasm and shock and the pain that tells you that running on a damaged ankle is dumb kicked in.
And there it has remained since (the pain). A grade 1 anterior talofibular ligament sprain if Wikipedia is to be believed.
Bad but not life threatening.
The worst part of the whole injury was that it throws my mid-September long picnic in Scotland plans up in the air for the next week or so.
And it means that you have to look at my feet.