L-R Emmy (lying down), Drama, Kendra, Savannah & Teya

13 June 2013

The Tale of the Obvious Tree

(Background - Nick has run a couple of half marathons and was working up to a full marathon when an injury kept him from running for just over a year.  He is now back to training and hoping to do a full marathon in September)


Today I met The Drain. Not The Wall, not The mini Wall, The Drain. I'd gotten up early, planning to do a half marathon along the seafront, with the incentive of doing one under two hours after last weeks 15 mile epic [sorry, 15.1 mile epic, the .1 is very important - see note at bottom**] I'd checked the weather, and it was going to be bright but cloudy, and just slightly chilly. Perfect jogging weather. Did the numpty check what the wind was doing? No, the numpty did not. So, arrived at the beach, complete with sideways trees, but happy the wind was against me, so I'd have it on the way back. And that's when I met the The Drain. 

There's a great feeling at the start of any run as your GPS watch goes from the default 60 min/mile to 8 min/mile. It makes you feel you're accelerating like a proper runner, when all you're doing is stopping standing still. Today, with the wind against, it got to 10 and stayed there, then within 5 minutes had drifted back towards 11. That was just the first sign I was in trouble. The second was that my diaphragm, the thing meant to move up and down to suck air into my lungs, didn't want to move. It's supposed to feel bouncy like a beach ball, mine felt like an old car tire. And within ten minutes the oxygen depletion had got to my shoulders, by twenty it had gone to my legs. By thirty the cramp started in my right calf. There was no sudden downturn, no marked point at which my body complained, no ice picks [or blood axe] to the lungs, no moment when some part of my body broke and fell off [it has a habit of doing that]. This was gradual, like a sink full of water in a cheap hotel where the plug doesn't fit. The energy just slowly drained out of me, the stride pattern shrank, the pace slackened, the numbers slunk back down, too embarrassed to show their face in public.

It didn't help that as well as the Beaufort scale shredding force 84 wind, there where these gusts, aimed specifically at me, trying to make me feel even worse. These gusts were not aimed at anyone else, just me. All the other runners, bombing past me at 10 miles an hour, were completely left alone by the wind, glancing down at me with a kind empathetic look on their faces that quite clearly said "Why aren't his legs working?" Worse still were the runners coming the other way, floating along like rose petals on a breeze, 2 of them carrying weights. I, of course, immediately, if quietly, doubted their parentage. Just wait till you turn back, I thought, then you'll be hit with a wall of turbulent sandpaper strong enough to blow your ear buds out of your ears. Except of course, that would be when the wind would stop. The wind, quite clearly, just hated me.

I turned back at 5 miles, so I would at least hit double figures. The wind stopped -  physically, actually, literally, stopped dead the second I turned round, then 5 seconds later went "ha, ha, just kidding" and started up again with it's previous ferocity. And despite the fact the sink was empty, back i went. Not so much a rose petal as an old cone, bashed by the wind and occasionally thrown forward on its journey to somewhere. One foot in front of the other, the body having already lost, the mind too stupid to notice. 

I have a thing I tend to do called the Reverse Ed Moses. Edwin Moses was famous for winning the Olympic 400m hurdles with a stride pattern of 9ft.  I do the Reverse Ed, which is a stride pattern of 9in. So there I was, bumbling along, when who should come back along but one of the runners carrying weights. He was IN PAIN. The wind had defeated him, his shoulders and head wobbling erratically side to side like the jelly monster, his arms draped down like an octopus  And did he hate those weights. His friend was nowhere to be seen, presumably off crying behind one of the beach huts, or burying his weights. The now lone-runner looked up at me, an understanding, self pitying glance that said "Ah, so that's why your legs weren't working". Either that or "please could you shoot me", one of the two. And schadenfraude proving that most wonderful of adrenalin boosts I managed to speed up, and lo and behold as my right calf stretched out to something more than a tippy toe the cramp went, sort of.

5 miles later I had defeated mother nature. Well, insulted her quietly then ran away before she could ask me what I said. And although my finish time was truly horrible, I didn't stop, so it's the straw I'm clutching to -.before the wind blows it into the next county.


**Note:  The 15.1 mile epic is a reference to the Nick's Facebook post from 6th June
"I ran further than I've ever run today , 15.1 miles [the point 1 is very important]. Pace was good, 2h 23mins, which is 9.47 mins/mile, and a marathon pace of 4hr 8 min. In theory. Cos right now I hurt, man do I hurt, oh my deity {OMD} do I hurt. Unless you're that way inclined, in which case oh my lack of deities {OMLOD} do I hurt"

1 comment:

  1. Love it Nick. I am right there with you feeling the wind.

    Sue & HotRod