I’ve cheated a bit with this one. With my wife in hospital with cancer I simply didn’t have the time to travel the 8 hours each way to Anglesey for the next round in the Coastal Trail Series. Instead I improvised, you see it turns out that it is almost exactly a half marathon to run from my house into the hospital. It is on tarmac and there is only a total of 1500ft of climbing if you add up both directions, so it isn’t as extreme as an Endurancelife CTS round, however it is still a marathon and ultimately anything of marathon distance cannot be done without significant preparation. It would have to do. I decided to do a marathon of two parts, running to the hospital, spending a few hours with my wife and then running hope again. Everyone in my family thought that I was being a bit of an idiot, but then they always think that, so I’ve gotten used to them repeatedly asking me things like “are you sure?” and “do you think you should?” I usually give them the look that I reserve for misbehaving toddlers and BMW drivers (If you are the one good BMW driver then I apologise unreservedly to you) and they eventually go away. Read on for hoodies, yoofs, pubs, runners trots and lex luthor.
I actually quite enjoyed the run, and it wasn’t without it’s mishaps. I used a variety of cycle paths, B roads and disused railways (technically also a cycle path!) to keep away from the traffic as much as possible, but it was 100% tarmac and by the end my knees were complaining a bit. I took it easy aiming to do two hours in each direction, and I eventually did almost equal splits. 2:06:47 on the way out and 2:05:48 on the way back. I was a little surprised as I just plodded along and didn’t expect them to be quite so close. I got carried away on the way out when I heard a footfall behind me, I turned, saw some runner in a hoody behind me, looked forward again and decided I wasn’t going to be overtaken. I floored it for the next mile and a half. I firmly believe that if you are running away from something then it is churlish to look back as:
- It slows you down and
- It lets them know you are worried
When I looked back 10 minutes later there was no sign of him. Thank goodness! I slowed down and caught my breath for a few miles. I know it was childish, but what can I say?
On the way back things took a slightly darker turn when a ball of ice suddenly flew over my right shoulder and smashed on the path in front of me. I turned around and saw a youth, probably 16/17 and as big as me, in a purple hoody staring at me. If I had any doubt if it was him then it was removed when he “fluffed” his hoody and shrugged his shoulders in what was probably meant to be a “come on” sort of threatening gesture. As it was, it looked more like a homosexual invitation (phrase coined by Michael McIntyre I believe?). I gave him a long frown while I assessed the situation. I noticed that he had a mate a little way behind and I decided that an idiot that throws a block of ice at an inoffensive (apart from the Ronhill tights possibly?) stranger is also the kind of idiot that might carry a knife. I looked ahead again and opted to ignore him. I carried on running, I didn’t speed up and I didn’t slow down. If he wanted to push matters further then he could bloody well keep up, in which case I would reassess my response. The “yoof” ran a few steps, kicked some snow across the road and decided that I looked too much like hard work. That’s probably a good thing, although whether for me or him I can’t say, but my temper has been a lot shorter than normal recently and I don’t want to either get stabbed or go to jail for trying to twist some little sh*ts head off! weirdly I didn’t even get a hit of adrenaline, I guess I really am emotionally drained with what’s been going on with my wife!
The tale gets a bit more unpleasant now, but I will keep the details few and far between. Suffice it to say that I suddenly needed the loo. Buttocks firmly crossed I managed to make it as far as a public toilet, thank goodness. I carried on and 6 miles later I needed the loo again. I sped up. A familiar pub was only a couple of miles away. I sped up some more. I dashed around the back of the pub, rushed in through the back door and….I made it in time. Was this a case of the mysterious runner’s trots? Before leaving the pub I booked a table for tomorrow night so I could bring the kids in on the way back from the hospital. It was the least I could do in return for them being so conveniently located in the middle of nowhere!
It was now only two miles until home. I passed a gang of yoofs, this time in the dark on a cycle lane next to the A38. As I ran passed I heard one of them giggle and then I heard footsteps behind. I didn’t feel threatened, but I guess this was a case of at least one of the teenagers deciding that he would show up the runner. Not a chance. I turned on full gas for the next half mile, with the same strategy as before. Just run, don’t look back! The footsteps tried to keep up, and I can only hope that the sudden burst of speed made him throw up, so that he learnt a valuable lesson. I’m not sure what, but I’m sure that it was valuable and I know that nobody was in sight when I got to the end of the cycle path.
I’m sure that by now some of you are rolling your head with cries of “ego” and “for shame.” But to be honest, from my perspective it was just a bit of fun and it turned the run from a boring slog into something a little more challenging and exciting. I’m not sure that I would want to repeat the whole ice ball incident as that could have become something a lot more nasty if it had hit me or if I had reacted differently, but it gives me another tale to tell on the blog.
Finally I thought that I would share my new haircut with you. As my wife goes through chemo, latest leukaemia blog here, her hair is just starting to fall out. She is being incredibly brave about it, but I wanted to demonstrate that she isn’t alone. I just wish that I would stop making myself jump when I look in the mirror thinking that Lex Luthor is creeping up on me!