Columbo (well Peter Falk) is reading the most enthralling story to his sick grandson from the Wonder Years (well Fred Savage) It has true love, a princess, quests, fights, honour, revenge, death, fire, pirates and rodents of unusual size. Each character is delightful in their own way and almost every line quotable. (Seriously. Watch it. You'll thank me afterwards and I'll shut up about it)
Thus when I was thinking about the down sides of ultra running, a speech given by the romantic hero WESTLEY (yes, WESTLEY is a romantic lead name, this is true love after all), came to mind.
When the villainous Prince asks (of their final fight): To the death?
Westley replies: No. To the pain!
And I think this sums up the exquisite agonies that distance running seems to bring me. If you allow me to break the speech down I'll explain.
It is COLD running in Scotland in winter. Really. Fecking. Freezing.
This tends to bugger up the circulation in my extremities. I struggle to undo my bag to get gels and water as Raynauds syndrome kicks in. White fingers, stabbing pain and an inability to perform delicate motor tasks. Useful. Very useful. It means I struggle to unlock my front door. And pull the face pictured above......
Meanwhile if they get wet, my feet turn to blocks of ice. And every time I run home over the super exposed Forth Road Bridge, I'm sure my nose will be swept off my face. Once I was so stiff from cold that I was blown into the path of a cyclist......like a human skittle.......awkward.
Westley: I wasn’t finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
It's also really sodding rainy. And I wear glasses. Thus:
1: They get wet and I can't see out of them. So I have to carry them. Which is annoying. I'm considering a string like a librarian. Also, that's my long distance vision vastly reduced.
2: They steam up like I've opened the oven if I choose to wear a scarf over my cold lower face.
3: Once I fell over, smashed my glasses, landed on the broken arm of them and cut my head open. £75 to replace them and a trip to A&E to be glued back together.
1 and 2 are vaguely annoying on a short run. But on a 20 miler in dying light it definitely reduces my speed. Well I reduce my speed, lest I should trip and incur another 3! I'm no steady footed mountain goat, I'm more of a Bambi
Westley: Wrong! Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing,” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever
I used to think that all this smug exercise would give me the perfect body. Oh how I was wrong! It keeps me in a vaguely slim shape and allows me to eat a lot of cake but boy does it make bits of my body pretty repulsive.
Carrying a rucksack in wet Lycra has given me a delightfully chafed spine. It stings like hell on the day it happens and means in between long runs I basically feel like an old snake to the touch. Attractive right? Maybe I'll add it to my dating profile?
And who needs 10 toenails when you can have 9 and one bloodied toe that will never see a pedicure again? I've not included a photo in case you're eating. But I'm avoiding sandals for a while in case I do hear: Dear God. What is that thing???
Recently a beautician tried to sell me a wonder cream and actually gasped at the skin damage to my face. She claimed I was over exfoliating, sitting in a dry, heated office and using face wipes made by the devil. The implication being that I'd soon look like a 70 year old witch and have to live in a hut in the woods. I calmly explained that running in high winds can have this effect. She backed away slowly.....looking for a "real woman" who spoke her language.
Despite the danger of my nose and fingers falling off.
The risk of running blindly off a cliff.
The likelihood of looking like a pensioner at 40.
Despite all this I run on. Because deep down I love the pain. Because I love running. As Wesley says:
This is true love. You think things like this happen every day?
x x x x x x