Ah, 2015 – notable for so many reasons. It’s the International Year of Soils for a start. In fact earlier this month (December 5th to be precise) it was World Soil Day. I hope you celebrated appropriately by digging a hole or ploughing a furrow or soiling yourself in some other pleasingly constructive manner. But, soils aside, what else has 2015 done for us? Well, from February 19th onwards it’s been Chinese Year of The Goat. Or Ram. Or Sheep. Depending on your cultural/caprinae leanings. Oof, what Chinese animal does my birthdate decree? Monkey? Yeah! Or more precisely, Metal Monkey. Hang on: being born in 1980 makes me a Double Metal Monkey? Surely some sort of coronation is in order. Or at least I should have been the subject of a 1980s arcade game. Hmm, ‘inherently intellectual and creative, Monkeys at times have trouble exhibiting these qualities. When that happens, they appear to others to be confused’ – pfft, nonsense. Why, this opening paragraph is surely testament to the fact that I can stay on-message when introducing a review of the running events I’ve partaken in across the last 12 months…
So, right then. As its nearly Christmas/New Year/Mongolian Independence Day (December 29th, people) I thought it apt to glance back across the last 52 weeks and reflect on all this stupid running I’ve been doing:
The Christmas period saw me do something that is guaranteed to re-energise any hobby – hurl some cash at it to acquire a shiny new gizmo. As my Nike+ running watch had capitulated (well, I say that…what happened was actually the latest incident in a long line of ‘watch sabotagings’ – it was a bit knackered, so I purposefully knackered it more to make it completely knackered and thus require a beautiful new one. The origins of this recurring ridiculousness lie in my childhood: As a kid I had a Tetris watch. Yes, a watch you could also play Tetris on. It was fabulous. For a long time it remained fabulous. Then it got a bit scratched and the strap went funny. So I put it on a kerb and stamped on it…) I made a sound investment in a Garmin Somethingorother. This of course meant I could run all the same routes I’d run before, but Mr Garmin would chalk them all down as new records. Pointless, meaningless records. That weren’t really records, as I’d already run much faster with the Nike+ thing. But still. You take inspiration where you can. And speaking of which, pre-Christmas Ben had ‘played a blinder’ (or ‘been a total dick’ depending on my mood) and signed post-Christmas Ben up for a January half-marathon: The Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York to be precise. It was cold. And icy. I almost fell over a few times. But I did clock a comparatively remarkable 1:42:23. Before then losing the feeling in both of my hands on the walk back to the car, only to regain it suddenly and assume I’d slipped into that point of hyperthermia where you feel really hot and take all your clothes of despite being only inches from freezing to death. Also, there was no medal. Just a lime-green, long-sleeved t-shirt. I got medium. Should have got large. Life: full of regret.
In the depths of winter came THE SNOW. And with that came a moment all us runners fear – A FALL. Yes, I vividly remember going arse over tit in the slush by a cattle grid on a remote track. For a moment I lay there in the snow, waiting for medical professionals to arrive and cordon off my soaked and battered body and with some black screens before producing the shotgun. But then I just got up and got on with it (after checking to make sure no-one saw, obviously). Looking back at the mileage I was putting in, I was clearly in the midst of pre-marathon euphoria too. What a naïve idiot…
Ah, now I remember – the first three months of the year saw me enthused by Jantastic – that thing where you pledge to do some running, then you do some running, all for imaginary points in an imaginary league table. By the end of March, I was well sick of that bollocks I can tell you. But as one door closes – or indeed, is closed by my with a muttered ‘bugger this Jantastic nonsense, its cold out there’ – another one opens as the end of the month saw the second race of the calendar year – The Thirsk 10. The ‘10’ bit being ’10 miles’. Not ’10 kilometres’. Sadly. However, an event famed for its windy conditions took pity on the poor runner as the day was, I seem to recall, unseasonably splendid. Plus I didn’t get run over, which is always a bonus. There was a cavalcade of mopeds that I had a good swear at, however. Stupid noisy, stinking, pathetic little non-motorbikes all ridden by people who covert a ‘scene’ I don’t understand, but that seems to involve The Who and the need for an abundance of wing-mirrors. I mean, erm, each to their own. Of course.
‘I went to Disneyland and when I got back I couldn’t be bothered for a while’ just about sums up April, running wise. Mentally, I was still on the Indiana Jones rollercoaster and consuming a Nutella and chocolate milkshake that I’m convinced could have given me type-2 diabetes in just one sitting. Still, I manned up and got on with it. No, I’m lying to myself – I whined on and went reluctantly. I did, however, manage to achieve one outstanding running feat during April – getting completely lost whilst being less than two miles from my house. It’s a rare talent, being this stupid. Basically, to cut a long and shameful story short, certain ‘assumptions’ were made by me about where paths should and shouldn’t go, despite having the directional sense of a reanimated Cornish pasty. I ended up wrapped in brambles and vaulting hedges, whilst at any moment expecting to be shot by an angry farmer.