The less than attractive side to running
"Something amazing happens when you run," boasts a recent television advertisement.
"Running increases your confidence, giving you greater control of your life." I suppose the voice over man and his dulcet tones aren't lying. Some of the best physical highs I've had were after long runs. Nothing will beat the elation of completing a marathon or high-fiving cheering kids as you zip down the street after recovering from the wall. But lately I'm really getting to grips with the less than attractive side to running.
Earlier in the week I tackled my sixth half marathon, which was the excellent Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon. The live entertainment and stunning route, as well as cheers of encouragement from bystanders make in one of the most enjoyable road races I've somehow managed to slug through.
Still, I've started to wrap my head around the negatives of running that I know I'll probably have to live with. One of the greatest indignations a rookie runner like myself constantly has to endure is being passed out by grey-haired old men who are hairier than a wolf and with more folds and creases than a turkey's neck.
In fairness, I have a lot of respect for these troopers. We've all heard the stories of these people who've completed 30 marathons and keep on coming back from more. Every long distance run I've finished seems to have around 50 of these running veterans taking part - and it seems like they're all keen on overtaking me when I least expect it.
During Monday's run, one of these old pros gasped and trotted past me and caught my eye, as if to say 'try and beat me now, slowpoke'. I took this challenge and overtook the chancer soon afterwards. For the next hour or so we played a game of cat and mouse, rotating roles as we each slipped in front of each other throughout the course.
Naturally I lost in the end, but I put up a good fight.
While that may be a bashing to the ego, it's only a close second to the battering my feet received. Like every race or run I've done since the start of the year, I've had my lucky pair of blister-proof running socks on. I'm not one for superstition, but since I've worn these socks, I've beaten my personal best at every road race I've signed up to. Well, on Monday, my luck ran out.
Now as keen a runner as I am, I don't think I've managed to run the 1,000 miles my fomerly-lucky socks told me I'd remain blister-free for. Yet I'm still nursing three whoopers between my feet. This is the first time I've developed them after running a race less than 30k. I feel like an amateur all over again.
Clearly I'm losing my touch. After completing the Dublin Marathon last year, I walked to the pub, walked into work the next day and had no bother climbing up the three flights of stairs. Today, two days after completing half that distance, I'm still walking like John Wayne and cramping badly.
So my battered body and ego are still in recovery mode, but I'm already excited about my next big race. Even though it takes a few days to feel 100 per cent again, there's nothing quite like a competitive run. There's always a great buzz in the corral before the race, the adrenaline when you fly under the start sign and the feeling of accomplishment when the race is done and dusted can't be emulated.
Last year after finishing the Dublin Marathon, I said there was no way in hell I'd put myself through that torture again. Yet here I am, getting ready to intensify my training for my second flirtation with the 42km route. Even with all the ailments, there's nothing I'd rather be doing on a Bank Holiday Monday.
"Something amazing happens when you run," your man on the television says. I suppose he's not wrong.