09 November 2010

Out there in the Night

How quickly the nights draw in at this time of year. Club runs are now limited to well-lit roads in town, not the most interesting prospect but a necessary evil.

Arriving just in time for the start, I attached myself to three people who seemed to be going at about the right pace. Somewhere I overlooked two important matters: first, I was very, very stiff in the lower legs after Sunday's poseur effort, and second, I gave blood yesterday. Not very successfully, it has to be said: it dribbled out too slowly to fill a bag in the allotted 15 minutes, and a partly-full bag is no good because the measure of anticoagulant that's in the bag at the start doesn't become sufficiently diluted by the short measure of blood. The - what was he? I think his badge said "donor carer" or something, but let's call him the Man with the Needle, or better still, call him Shaun, which also appeared on his badge - so, Shaun asked whether I'd drunk much during the day (he was trying to take blood at 5.30pm) so I said, yes, and itemised it: three coffees and a cup of tea, plus a pint of water while I waited to be called. "That's not what you want to hear, is it?" I added, and he confirmed that I should avoid the diuretic drinks and concentrate on water and juice. Especially as it seems I have thin veins.

Anyway, an abortive donor session meant that I felt OK to run this evening, and to mark the occasion I forgot completely about taking it easy. For starters I was determined to do the long route, 6.35 miles or something (in the end I did a modified version which came in at 6.1, so not quite the target 10K per day like Murakami). The three with whom I was running in propinquity (a word I am using to amuse Graham) turned off where the medium route diverged from the long one, and I was on my own for a lonely mile or so before the two met again and, exhaling every lungful loudly enough for most of Abingdon to be following my progress, I caught Andrew and Ernie, out for a gentle run and a chat. I thought I might join them, but the craziness took over again and I left them to their reminiscences - beside them, my running history is hardly worth remembering, my running future is what matters.

I didn't think my pace slackened appreciably - the data show a bit of variation in my split times, inevitable in an urban run I suppose, but I hit a great pace half a mile or so from the end as i found myself mixing it with another club's elite group. Well, I think they were elite, and I didn't recognise them: but they did seem overdressed (jackets and hats: my concession to November was a long-sleeved top) and I did manage to say with them for a hundred yards or so, before tapering off on the climb back up to Tilsley Park.

The feeling at the finish was quite brilliant: stretching near another club ember, we remarked on how fantastic it is to finish. I need to codify that inspirational message so I can recall it when I need it - rather like the leaflet about my forthcoming book which I have pinned on the wall so I can read the endorsements from Bob, Dave, Tony and Jonathan - it's nice to be able to ask friends to say how much they like one's book! Apart from a good run, I haven't found anything quite so uplifting as that leaflet for a long, long time.

Another clubmate remarked on my Runner's World article, which he said he'd enjoyed reading: I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed the running, but the black dog that haunted me for months after revisiting my old school has caused immense damage this year. A few years ago a professional in these matters was impressed by how much my schooldays had scarred me, and I should have realised that I would take that assessment with me when I went back to the place, and prove to myself just how right he was. But now I've confronted that, and put the black dog back in its kennel: next year looms, with the prospect of some great runs - and I have announced on here my intention to get perilously close to the border between enthusiasm for new challenges and utter madness. The next step is to get RW to take the story of those races, when I do them.

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