Sunday, 16 February 2014

Painfully dull

I always wondered about those people you'd see in gyms. The ones who'd be on treadmills watching telly as they ran. Why bother? I'd think. Why pay to do that when you can go for a run outside? This was before I even ran myself, and yet I still managed to be supercilious. Amazing, eh. But what I didn't know then is that running can be really boring and that the TV is a gift. 

And when I say boring, I mean really boring. Proper 'slack-jawed yet anger-inducing' boring. Like today.

We got the train over to Sevenoaks earlier because, when you look at the map, you'll see loads of woods and bridleways and muddy paths to run along. And that kind of running had been great only a fortnight ago - the kind of genuine, unalloyed fun that can take your mind of a busy week or, as with my week, stop you worrying spots into your skin about 'life decisions'. 

So we figured that tracks like that would be fun again. But what we hadn't bargained for was that days of rain had turned some of them into the kind of mud that can steal your shoes, and it took about 40 minutes to cover a mile. Also; earlier in the week I'd seen a guy about my ankle and he's said to keep an eye on it. The mud wasn't helping that any. In fact it was twisting my ankle about like a kite in the wind.

The best of the mud. The Best Of Mud.

'Let's get back to the roads or we're going to get nowhere', said Andy, picking his way over a fallen tree (and sliding about so much that, thinking about it now, it's amazing neither of us fell face first into the muck and emerged closer to God). So we found the road at the top of the woods, and ran. And from then on it was the dullest day out I've had in ages.

I know, I know; it's easy to knock the commuter belt. But this was something else. Endless dual carriageways detailed with the occasional 'pub experience' or a Frankie & Benny's. And endless parades of mock Tudor homes that require a keypad to get in, and which are indistinguishable from any golf course club house. Real Corbett-Country, you understand. 

And of course, Kent is beautiful - but you wouldn't know it from these tree-lined drags. No views. No breaks. Nothing. Just a relentless slog up vaguely inclined A-roads where your only company was the zip of 50mph traffic and the occasional rabbit that had come apart like a loose knot under somebody's wheels.

I realised while taking this photo that, if you add these two distances up, you still don't have a marathon.

We stopped a couple of times and walked a bit, too. Well - I walked a lot. Not through exhaustion necessarily (although it was exhausting in places) or not because my left knee decided to rust itself shut all of a sudden, making me run like an injured puppet. Instead, it was because there was no inspiration to keep going - no turn to look out for; no farm to run past; not even any dramatic weather as it was, perhaps, the best day we've had this year. I'm sure the side roads led to more exciting territory but by this point, I just wanted to get home and had started chastising the pavement itself, out loud, for being such a bellend.

In fact, the only notable event was when two lads on scooters appeared, bibbing their horns and sticking their middle fingers up at me as they whined past. I returned the insult by holding up the V's until they noticed. Two of my fingers for each of theirs.

Luckily, it came to an end, all of this. Andy and I jumped onto the train at Bromley South and all in, we covered just under 17 miles. But it felt like eighty. As he'd been running, Andy's phone had mapped the bits where we actually ran - rather than walking, or stopping, and it came to about 15 miles, I think. Maybe a bit less. What I do know is that we're not going back to the A21 any time soon.

PS: These were good, however: Sam Lipyste reading Thomas McGuane's 'The Cowboy' and Colm Tobin reading Sylvia Townsend Warner. In fact, I think I'm developing a crush on the voice of the New Yorker's Fiction Editor, Deborah Treisman, who hosts these podcasts. Who knows - maybe one day I'll take her on a date to the Frankie & Benny's on Farnborough Way near Bromley. They do hot dogs now, said the sign.

Distance: 15 miles/ 24.1 km

Time: A century.
Runs in the week: 6 miles /9.7 km (Andy) 4 miles/ 6.5km (Elliot)
Total distance (Andy): 136.3 miles/ 216.4 km
Total distance (Elliot): 150.1 miles/ 240.6 km

No comments:

Post a Comment