Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Fat runner strikes back

First, a point of clarification. I have been receiving correspondence from all kinds of readers who think that my not training for London involves cutting back on speedwork. Let me clarify: I'm not training. I've been going out maybe two or three times a week, and running a handful of eight-minute miles. I'm about half a stone overweight. When I run London I will be facing hitting the wall long before Tower Bridge.

However ... I was in Ragged Mountain Running Shop in Charlottesville Virginia on Monday, buying a new pair of running shoes for my youngest. They didn't have any of my model in my size in stock, which is a shame as the pair that I'm carrying around with me on my US sojourn are very worn out, and the exhausted rear cuts into my heels. But just as I was going to pay I asked the sales assistant whether there were any local races this weekend. Yes, she said, the ten-miler is on Saturday.

The Charlottesville ten miler is a big deal. It's a large race (2300 runners) a few weeks before the marathon. Now the CVille marathon is a bloody affair with some very big hills. It attracts obsessives, you know the kinds. The ten miler is less bloody, I think, but it's a popular and famed race that loops around the downtown area and through picturesque Jeffersonian architecture. So having asked, I could hardly decline, no matter how much I wanted to. This may well be my last trip to CVille ever, and I happen to be in town on the day of the race ...

So I signed up, and went and ran some hill intervals in my worn-out Sauconys. Then I drove down to Durham, North Carolina, winding through the hills of southern Virginia on route 15S, and this morning ran gently around a Duke University cross-country track, which winds around the golf course, with my friend Nigel, who is recovering from a major health crisis. It was good to ease the red wine toxins out of my blood. Two days' training should be enough, no? I would have won a prize this time last year: this year I'll be luck to break 75 minutes.

It's nice to be running again, in the open skies and clean air of country, and up and down some real hills, of the kind that Cambridge can't afford. I may have forgotten to mention over the past few weeks how much I like running. Everyone needs to do it. Now I have to pray that my new shoes arrive before Saturday, else I'm running ten miles barefoot.


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