Last Sunday night I went on perhaps my most ridiculous training run ever. Ultra runners are used to being described as crazy, but this was one of the rare occasions when I doubted my own sanity. Having driven for six hours over ice and snow from Donegal down to Galway, I was a mental and physical wreck. I decided however that I wasn’t going to allow any of that make me miss my run. My training plan called for a twenty-mile effort and, displaying a glorious lack of common sense, I wasn’t going to allow myself to admit that it was unlikely I’d get them done. As I was leaving the house it was 7:30pm, it was pitch dark, the temperature was hovering around minus seven and it was starting to snow.
What could possibly go wrong?
The short version is that loads went wrong!
I had dressed properly for the conditions and so I wasn’t cold but straight away I was running like a condemned man and each footstep hit the road with a clunk. Things were going to have to improve considerably before I could hope to break into an awkward plod. Although you may also find this difficult to fathom, one of my club-mates, Eoin, had actually agreed to train with me. Looking back now this was indeed a very good thing. It was clear to me within minutes that the six hours of driving had sucked every ounce of energy and enthusiasm from my core. I really, really shouldn’t have been out there at all. At some early point in the run Eoin said to me, “Are you up for ten miles?” Of course, I should have laughed hysterically at the suggestion and rejected the prospect out of hand, but instead I replied, “Ah why not? I’ll give it a shot!”
Thirty minutes later, I was on my metaphorical knees even though I was still moving forward, albeit very slowly. The remaining miles – and I eventually covered a little over thirteen – saw me sinking gradually deeper into a sort of quiet and grim acceptance of being in such a crappy situation. When our path took us past his house, Eoin was kind enough to offer me a lift home. Had I by then recovered even a fragment of my good-sense, I would have gratefully accepted such a kind offer, but I unfortunately found that my stupidity-switch remained stuck in the ‘on’ position. Given my repeated refusals to cop-myself-on, I could then only reject all outside assistance and resolve to stagger the remaining couple of miles home along some of the most dangerous roads that I’ve ever tried to run on.
I made it home eventually. I can only presume that I resembled something like a cross between a yeti and a drunk. My wife asked how the run had gone and I murmured ‘fine’. If I had told the truth she might have called the police, a psychiatrist or both.
I really am getting too old for this shit.
When will I learn?