So, the running thing. I remember as a schoolboy seeing an amazing face-on video of Valerij Borzov, the Russian sprinter from the 1970s, in agonizing detail as he ran a 100 metre race. Sadly the video hasn't been loaded onto youtube. Yes, odd, isn’t it, given the stuff that actually is posted... So I shall have to describe it...
With every one of his 50-odd footfalls on the track you could see shock tiny-waves running through his incredibly lean face, the conflicting effects of gravity and his heel-strikes. Tiny ructions ran visibly across the muscles and skin of his cheeks and forehead even though they were held in the rictus of extreme concentration. It was utterly fascinating, in that undefinable but undoubtedly compelling way that there is about bodily functions (you know, the dirt that gets caught in your keyboard, and how the lint that appears from nowhere in your belly-button, and.. Actually I’ll stop there).
With Borzov we're talking about the movement of skin and miniature amounts of sub-cutaneous fat. Now picture a face-on view of Mr Lard-arse, all 100kg of him, barreling his way through the park. Ruction is hardly the word. It's something seismic more like. With each slow-motion thump of my heel striking the ground a cataclysmic wave is sent up through my body and all my extraneous blubber bounces and flails under my skin. Eeeuch! It's almost too horrible to contemplate. So I shall carry on, obviously.
Ruction is hardly the word. There is
something seismic going on here.
Blimey, there are even harmonics of lard...
Consider this - as someone with fairly typical male pattern fat (about 25kg of it hanging like a breast-plate between my neck and knackers but not much elsewhere) - for whole moments after impact, as the shockwave fires vertical, all that lard is thrown skyward, hovers momentarily, and then subsides in a massive triangular flump, straining at the skin of my belly. Yes, that is lard in suspension - fat in defiance of gravity. Borzov's miniature sub-cutaneous ructions become a massive, barely-controlled bouncing, a whole acreage of adipose on the move. Pinioned by the fixed points around my joints, it actually sends sub-waves left and right as I run. Blimey, there are even harmonics of lard going on in there.
As I pound my way around the outside of the park - hip - flubber, hip - flubber, hip - flubber - I muse on what's ahead. As I might have mentioned, I have entered the Coast to Coast in Scotland, an annual race along the Great Glen. The course is as follows - 7 miles of running along the Nairn River from the coast to Cawdor Castle, about 50 miles of road cycling to the south of Loch Ness and a final kayak leg into Fort Augusta. That's Day 1 (yes, as this is my first time out for 15 years, I shall be doing the two-day event rather than the one-day). Day 2 starts with an off-road cycle ride of 20 miles before coming back on the road for another 13. This is followed by a heart-breakingly brutal (hopefully not literally heart-breaking in my case) run/hike, 14 miles over the mountains from Fort William to Loch Leven. And at that point there is a final mile-long kayak. Apparently it's a classic race teaser - the finish line hovers ahead of you but never, never seems to get any closer... And that's not to mention the pain most people suffer in their hip flexors after the run...
Hip - flubber, hip - flubber, hip - flubber... So it's not just running I need to train up for. There's cycling, though this shouldn't be too much an issue, given that I do a fair bit of it for general exercise, and kayaking. Crumbs.
You might be worried that this journal entry isn’t strictly a lament. And you’re right. It will be, though, when I am straining over the mountains above Fort William, wailing and moaning, lungs as strained as a set of bagpipes, praying dolefully for the end of the race to come.
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