Well, it finally happened: Last weekend I failed absolutely to complete a running challenge, even one of my own design. It was not a race, but the final 30 mile training run in preparation for the Cateran Trail 55 Mile Ultramarathon later this month. I have been really struggling with my longer runs of late, knocking in 3-4 runs of 20+ miles plus over the last 5 weeks with a good variety of other distances in between. But I finally had to face the fact that holding down the two simultaneous lives in different countries, the constant travelling home and to conferences, the two chest viruses and a twisted ankle this year have collectively taken their toll. The requisite miles, yoga and cross-training I need to enjoy, rather than simply complete these larger distances has simply not been there. So with reluctance I came home on Sunday and officially shelved the Cateran Ultra for another year. I felt quite deflated, and this was not helped by a spectacularly heavy fall on my Tuesday morning trail run to work. The 10kg backpack only added to the weight of the impact. The resulting skinned knee, hands and elbow emerged with lovely gravel rash and splinters, while the knee itself swelled up slightly. But the nurse at work was lovely and didn’t laugh too much as she got out the Dettol and wire brush to clean my leg up. The running mojo knocked out of me, and not for the first time this year. I had, indeed, been “knocked down”.
“But I got up again”: The same weekend a Scottish friend of mine in Stockholm, Kim, sent me an email informing me that the annual Stockholm Hash House Harriers Trail Marathon was scheduled for 1st May (or five days later). I’ve known about Hash running for some time. They describe themselves, quite fairly, as “A Drinking Club with a Running Problem“. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of the Stockholm Hashers so I emailed one of them (alias “Titan Dick” in the Hash world) and asked if I could tag along. He said no problem, he’d let them know I was coming.
The great thing about the Hash Marathon was that it was broken up into 5km sections with a beer stop at each. You could join and leave, or leave and re-join the run at any point. When I opened the blinds on Thursday morning, the snow was coming over Stockholm quite horizontal while the day before it had been 23c. Good – long strides could cover up the bloody war wounds. I joined the local train and jumped on the carriage to see if I could spot the the Hashers. One of them (Laid Bird) I already knew and Titan Dick had told me to look out for her. So – a few basic introductions were made to the others.
When we got off the train, the snow had at least stopped, but it remained chilly for the rest of the day. After being introduced to the basic rules of Hash running we set off on an interesting ROUTE (across Stockholm from Solsiden to Drottningsholm). It was mostly trail / small paths with only a few small sections on tarmac. On the first sections the HARE had failed to show up so we followed a particularly devious route through the trees partly based on the Hashers intuition about where this individual might like to have sent us. In some places on this section, there was no path at all through the trees. Despite this I managed to stay upright and to my surprise my knee felt fine all day. We completed slightly over the full marathon distance in c 5.17 of running time – thus surprisingly knocking the Marathon du Medoc into second place on the Personal Worst table. But this was precisely what I needed: a good long run, a really interesting route with no pressure, good company and a few beers on the way. The “On-Inn”, après party on the island of Kungshatt was equally enjoyable with sauna, hot tub, food, drink and a large number of Hash House Harrier drinking rituals. All good fun: “On-On” and all that.
So having started the week quite dejected with my running, I finish it with another trail mara under my belt and a start number for the fabulous 68km Jättelångt Trail Marathon next month for which I am at about the right training stage. And all morning this song has been going through my head which sums up just how I feel right now. Sing along if you know the words “I get knocked down, but I get up again …..“
Asthmatic Info: Ix puff of Ventolin at the start of the race. Asthma stayed away despite the biting wind.
Diabetic Info: despite the beer & buns on the way round, BGL highest was 6.9. BGL lowest was 3.2. Finished the event at 5.1.