Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day?
Now, I know this is a push and some of you will think this is highly inappropriate and your rhetoric will lead you to the question, how can he compare one with the other? But, with every letter, syllable and word, the paddle down the repugnant river towards the coarse cascade of common commentary continues and (as soon as I post this) there’s no turning back.
Whilst I won’t ever understand ‘it’ – at the now tender age of 48 – I’ve just endured my first case of runner’s nipple. Bleeding, chapped and sore, I get how women breast-feeding feel. Except of course I don’t and I apologise to any females out there who are irritated and down-right upset by my comparison. Hopefully, you’ll forgive my lack of understanding, care and empathy. But, please also appreciate that I am trying to contrast a Summer’s Day to breast-feeding and in doing so trying to appreciate that both are beautiful, natural and wondrous.
At least I can state what a duffer I am and at this juncture no-one gets to disagree.
Coniston 14 beckoned last Saturday, leaving work at 9:23 that left me with 37 minutes to get from The Ryebeck to John Ruskin School. Car parked at 9:57, parking ticket obtained and then a flailing run like some Benny Hill extra down the hill to the start line just as the gun goes off. I join the last of the mighty throng of runners almost a full two minutes after the race had got going. Clearly some things about Duncan change and others remain the same. Despite my best efforts, I’ve still not entirely shaken off the shackles of unpreparedness and disorganisation. No stretching, laces too tight, too cold and no ‘warm-up’. Carp (or another misspelt fish), I’d only put two hours on the car park ticket. Pre-race plans to take it easy were now out the window, that meant instead of a steady run, I’ve now got to peg it round in under two hours. Knowing my luck there will be a blue striped parking vulture (sorry I mean officer), circling the car waiting for the timed ticket to expire should I fail to complete my voluntary task in time, so that the local council can pick my bones of more financial flesh.
The first three miles is very slow going, trying to pick up a rhythm and meander through the enthusiastic entrants, each and everyone a willing runner. The next four finally I begin to get into a rhythm and at mile 9 I begin to remember how I used to run as a child. As a teenager during cross-country competitions I wasn’t the fastest but I always tried my best and simply ran just for the fun of it. When I was behind in a ‘race’ I used to pick a target competitor in front and resolve to catch up with them, thereby moving with purpose (or even porpoise) through the shoal of shufflers. On Saturday, so too that’s how it enjoyably felt again (perhaps the training is beginning to help). There was even a few runs up the undulations around Coniston Water. At mile 11, my legs felt like they had grown (almost a teenager again) but equally my areola felt somewhat enlarged and sensitive. At mile 13, a minor renaissance, a real run (it classified as a real run to me) all the way to the finish. Completing Coniston in 1 hour 48, just in time to run back up the hill to the car park before the parking time-limit expired and the scavenging by the Council carrion commenced.
Something smarted though, it was only when I got back to work and disrobed ready to prepare for my shift that the realisation hit me. Peeling off my top, my Brathay t-shirt is dribbled with blood. Then levering off my trainers, a whopping (us men always exaggerate) blister. The moral of the story…
Arrive in good time, arrive prepared, prepare to run in kit you’ve practised in. Don’t wear new socks (at least that’s what I’m blaming the blister on) and next time invest in plasters and Vaseline. Yep, that’s right what a dufus! And yet, I still feel positive and geuinely believe I’m moving forward with some confidence towards 11th May.
At least I can now say that I’ve bled for the cause. So for more blood, sweat and tears please donate, I’m sure I’ve got more to give, please will you?