Yeah, yeah. Park schmark. We run down the side of the zoo and there's a sudden steady stream of male runners sprinting off course to release their sudden steady streams. They've been on the edge of wetting themselves since before the gun and our society's outrageous emphasis on hydration is to blame. Worse by far than poverty, racism and our consistent failure to revolt, this cry of "Drink plenty of water!" permeates our lives as a panacea to all ills. Hungover? Drink plenty of water! The common cold? Drink plenty of fluids! By which I mean water! Cancer? Make sure you hydrate well between your chemo heaves!
I do not need to piss. This is a rare and happy state. I may need to stop running, right here and now but I do not need to piss. I can no longer call this discomfort discomfort, and I can no longer locate it my upper shin. I am four and a half miles in and I have pain. Pain in my knee. Knee pain. It is still ignorable. So I ignore the fuck out of it.
Eight weeks and five days ago. Had it all been going so well? Dunno. I guess. No niggles. I was not collapsing under the load of the training, Though slightly fearful of a scheduled six mile tempo run on Friday morning I still agreed to cover a couple of extra spin classes that Thursday night. Maybe traffic is always that heavy on Merrion Square come late night shopping day. There is nowhere safe to go ride in this scenario, unless it's on a horse. And even then. Go on the inside and you might as well wear a t-shirt saying "Door me, please. Door me all to hell." Between the lanes is slow and messy and similarly doorish. The outside seems the best bet. Here I come. Here it comes. A van blocks the view of a yellow box whose I existence I have forgotten and I'm going fast because I'm always going fast and Emmanuel pulls out fast because he's probably always going fast too. I don't know where I connect but it's a big fucking crunch and I have not hit the ground before I'm wondering can I run. And then I do hit the ground and it all goes quiet and I lie there for a bit as the crowd crowds around. And then I'm up. Legs okay. I'm looking for the bike which is a long, long way away. Ache in my side. Adrenaline flood. I'm okay, I'm okay. I take a load of photos, get the numbers, get the name. Emmanuel it is but not the good kind. If this guy is doing soft focused soft porn it's for a niche market that I have yet to stumble across. The bike, by contrast, is hard focus fucked. I decide I need to go to work. So I put the bike on my shoulder and walk to the Concert Hall where I find a cab that'll take a broken bike and a now slightly limping me. I teach my spin classes. My side begins to move beyond an ache. This progression continues over the coming hours. It takes about a week to get bad enough for me to seek medical attention beyond a phone call to my father. But it's okay, because I stay fully hydrated throughout this crucial time.
Onto Chesterfield Avenue. I've dropped off again. I can still see the pacer's flag but in the distance now. How can I be running this slowly? I don't feel tired. The knee has yet to alter my form. Slowing certainly doesn't seem to reduce the pain. I decided to eat a gel. It's early, yes, but that was the plan. I stick to the plan. Then fumbling to open the gel with gloves, something which due to climate change I have failed to practice, I squirt most of it down my front. The plan sticks to me.
Half a gel makes me go no faster. It's the gloves, I think. My hands are warm. So I throw them to the verge, the last of the ballast cast off. Early again. Everything is happening too soon and too slowly. We pass five miles and my pace is a joke. My knee hurts. Emmanuel paid for the bike. He unknowingly paid for the classes I ultimately missed. He did not pay for this despair that is now beginning to slowly envelop me. But hey, he wasn't to know.
Up Chesterfield Avenue I trot, the 3'20 flag still in the distance but not getting any further away. Just before six miles there is a water station. Then a turn and a pre-arranged gel pick up point.The knee is bad now and has been joined by the hip. Probably time to drop, I think. Best get to the water station first though. because, you know, hydration.
Here it comes. Here I come.