Monday, 5 September 2011

Stupid is as stupid does

Often not discussed on my blog is the aftermath of an event and the effects it has on me, as a runner, both physically and mentally.

Expectation v excitement

There you are the training days turn into weeks, the weeks into months as the big event is on the horizon and you look , check and go over the training plans to see if you have done enough or is there something you can do that will help you go that little further or just that little bit faster. The 5.45 am Sunday wake ups will soon be a thing of the past as you stand on a wet and windy North Downs Way with sweat dripping in your eyes and an unquenchable thirst, swearing under your breath asking why you do such a stupid sport and wouldn't stamp collecting be a warmer, safer option.

You are seen pouring over maps of courses, making lists of kit that you need to either replace or put on the ever growing pile by the drop bag; the ever patient partner hoping the race day will come quicker than you just to allow some form of normality return to the household.

Soon the day before the race arrives, excitement takes over, you can't wait to get out there; expectation precedes.

The day unfolds
You awake, you travel, you arrive on time, you prepare for the run going through the well rehearsed list that you have in your mind. Then finally you are there at the start, the nerves showing as the colour drains from your face and you find yourself chatting "running talk" and the ubiquitous subject of your last bowel movement and whether is was prudent to have had that chicken tikka masala last night instead of the vegetarian pasta option.

Reality unfolds
Then the last minute panic sets in, did I put enough Vaseline on my arse? Is it a good idea that I am wearing a brand new pair of shoes with only the equivalent distance of a running shops aisle's worth of miles in them! Why is my arse getting hotter? Did I get the Ralgex tub mixed up with the Vaseline or is that the chicken tikka masala talking?......BANG the race has started.

It is too late now!
Be your race 5,000 metres or 50 miles you are now in the lap of the pantheon of running Gods, unbeknown to the beginner they are a mixed bunch of good and bad, some vindictive but mostly kind others vengeful, some sadistic. You will find however that after a few runs you will meet all, if not just one, of these deities.

Like a true athlete you take on the run with all your ability and expectation, you take on that hill, you savour the every moment, you admire the scenery, the handmade sign written by your 6 year old daughter telling you she loves you memories only you can share with other runners, woe betide he or she who tries to discuss it with a non-running partner they will never "get it " as running really is stupid and bad for your knees!

Reality rears its ugly head
As you descend the hill your toes slap into the toe box of your running shoe and you curse that you forgot to  tighten your shoe at the start as you were too busy talking about bowel movements  to that embarrassed elderly lady runner, then you remember that using conditioner on your running shirt exacerbates "nipple rub" and is lycra a good idea on a hot day for runs over 15 miles?

Lungs bulging to the point of bursting, legs on fire, sweat in your stinging eyes and you can see the finish line but it seems there is a path of burning coals between you and it just as you feel your toe nail give up the ghost, all your race plans have gone to the dogs.

The finish
This is a mine field of emotions with tears of joy or cries of frustration, mostly of frustration when goals are missed and bodies lie panting on the ground like fish out of water. There are tales of daring do and ones of woe...what could have been, what should have been done. Show ponies and cart horses alike eat greasy, semi-cooked beefburgers from the stand drinking tarmac tasting coffee imbibing more calories than they burnt up in the race.

Then you drag yourself away from the pantomime that is known as "The Big Race" mourning or elated about the way things went and with one last glance over your shoulder you look at the Finish line being dismantled in the late evening light wishing you could do it all over again.

Stupid is as stupid does.

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