Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Duck's Disease

Amazingly, positively, I can report that I’ve been running like a dog recently. In fact, rather more like a dog than I would have liked on some of the more recent ones (I seemed to go through a phase there of losing any fitness that I had).

Looking back I see I’ve chalked up 50 runs in the last 3 months, which, frankly, has required a huge amount of effort and a fair degree of obstinacy because, when all is said and done, I’m not really a runner’s runner.

For beginners, I have what my father would have descriptively called "Duck’s disease" – where my arse is too close to the ground i.e. long spine / arms, shorter legs (not that he used it on me personally, as I am nigh on 6 foot. ‘Nigh’ in this case being 5’11 ¾ - as whinged about previously).

My body configuration is good for swimming and especially good for ice-skating, where the lower your centre of gravity the better, but it is not much chop for running.

I also can’t even say I particularly like running, but I have a huge amount of respect & belief in being fit and, at the end of the day, running is the most accessible form of fitness there is available to most folk. You put on your shoes and just do it, to quote an over-hyped company (he says spying his branded running top & cap in the corner).

So, with a life-long attempt of trying to maintain fitness (
having first ever set off for ‘a run’, of my own accord, when I was about 8), I get out there irregularly and go plodding... with varying degrees of success. Anyway, I had a vague agenda in mind this year that I shan’t bore you with here, but am pleased to say that it will be over in a few more weeks (or this phase of it anyway).

It has been tough going recently and as the winter gets grimmer, darker and colder, it has been getting tougher, run by fargin’ run. In fact, I haven't been running in temperatures that were in 2 digits for goodness knows how long and over the last 8 weeks, it has averaged between minus 2 & 5 deg C (I do have a habit of running at night), plus, at times, there's been a shitty westerly wind recently - once up to 35 mph (that was a bundle of laughs, let me tell you).

The other day, 3rd December to be precise, I went out for what must have been one of the most precarious runs of my life. It was cold, 0 deg C, but it had been a lot colder the night before at minus 6 and t
here was black ice everywhere.

As I started out on the first mile or so, I didn’t really appreciate how bad it was. Over a hill and as I got down to an exposed section where the wind consistently blows, thereby dropping the temperature even further, it was like an ice skating rink.
By this stage I was out on the road, as the footpath had become un-runable (sp?), and so I began matching up my life & limb, with the passing traffic.

Being 5.30pm, it was already pitch black and the cars were having their own difficulties without having to deal with an over-enthused, but under-prepared, Kiwi on the same road.
As I got down the end of a straight I figured I’d be OK as the return leg was along the canal and once there, there would be no traffic to contend with.

How wrong was I. The path beside the canal was now fully iced up, as it had not had the benefit of some heat friction from any passing foot-traffic. Now I was having to run on the very rough weedy grass that separated the canal & path itself, which is, at best, 3 feet wide.

Now, there are no lights along this canal path and with sections of ice hidden in the undulating tussock, I was only one bad-foot step from a plonk in the canal. It’s a pretty canal it has to be said, but the water is not the best and of the two folk I know of who have ended up submerged in it, one ended up with Glandular Fever and the other contracted some other equally scary lurge.

Thinking before writing this blog, I cast my mind back over the years and I don’t think I have ever aborted a run before. I’ve certainly flagged a few before they ever started, but never crapped out of one, during it. Another mile or so along the canal and I finally thought ‘bugger this’ and figured I’d stop at the next bridge, review the safest option and either walk home along the canal, or get back to the main road, via the bridge, to return that way.

So, I make it to the bridge underpass which consists of cobblestones and just as I’m easing to a halt at the far side, I lose my footing on some ice and start to tumble. At the same time an elderly chap appeared entering the short tunnel from the other side and, in essence, I skidded out past him, sliding along on my knee & side.

He looked shocked and said “Goodness, are you alright?” to which I replied “...and that is why you don’t go running along canals on black ice!”.
I stood up, thanked him for his concern and walked up to the main road for the return (in the end, I ran home anyway as I’d already been on that part, it was nowhere near as bad as the canal and I had my tail up by then about the whole adventure anyway).

The only injury (read: world's smallest scratch) was my knee and that is barely worth talking about. Post-shower it looked something like this:

But I do mention it because it has been a while since I’ve been able to post a photo of personal injury on this blog (as feeble as it may have been) and for a while back there, I was starting to have a field day with adventures like this and this.

At the end of the day though, gotta say I kinda enjoyed myself in a perverse way. Mad & dangerous as it all was, it was a jolly good challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed the Carpe Diem element of it all.

Oddly enough, as I reflect back now, there were no ducks to be seen out there on the canal, short-arsed or otherwise - I guess they know better…


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