Stand quietly in the middle of the pack before a race you will hear other runners talking about three things – not exclusively, but somewhere someone will be talking about – injuries, hitting the wall (usually in a race) and the dreaded runners trots. This I will return to later.
Summer is a weird time for training for me, long warm evenings and early sun rises make training an enticingly heady prospect, however juggling school holiday commitments – getting kids to and from holiday clubs, couple-y commitments while the kids are away with the grand parents and actually going on holiday ourselves – make training even more sporadic than it is the rest of the year.
As a family we had the last week of the school holidays together and had an action-packed week booked all over the south of the country. I had hoped to squeeze two runs in without the risk of spending the night sleeping in the garden. The first was a mix of hilly b roads and north Cornwall coastal path – although unfortunately too much of the former and not enough of the later, and I had planned to squeeze the second in to the weekend at the end of our holiday.
We arrive at our final campsite in the dark, but I awake to find a wooded hill at the back of the campsite, and even better; the site staff informed me there is a footpath to the top not far from the site – even if it is easy to miss. With a hop and a skip, I return to the tent and begin my usual pre run preparations. Once my preparations are done, I head off through the site – including a little stretch of wooded footpath with dinosaurs hidden along the way. Then its up through the site and on to a back road through a gate.
Instinctively I turn right and instantly begin to climb. After a few kilometres a bit of the instructions from the site staff begin to replay in my head – “keep on the right-hand side, the path is easily missed”. Right-hand side! The wooded hill I am aiming for is on my left! Bugger, I’ve gone the wrong way. I carry on until the road flattens out, before turning and running back down towards the gate to the campsite and carry on past it. I reach the main road before seeing the footpath and by this point, I have given up on finding it, and decide to negotiate the main road. I run along the main road until I find a sign to an ‘Ancient Church’ and head towards that.
Its along here that it all begins to go south – unfortunately all too literally. With little to no warning I get a prang deep in my guts that’s stops me dead in my tracks. It’s the kind of feeling that can only mean one thing. Panicked that there is no way I can make it back to the campsite before my dam breaches I desperately look for somewhere to purge. I spot an overgrown conifer that is perfect to my specific set of needs.
I begin to back in and lower my shorts, but as soon as the waistband reaches the top of my arse – and I begin to relax internally – a car comes around the corner and I must hurriedly and desperately jam everything in to reverse. Not a moment too soon the car turns out of site and I can finally open the floodgates, but with only grass and conifer needles available the only option I have is to pull my shorts back up and sheepishly make my leave.
The shameful walk back seems to take an eternity and a shower can’t come soon enough. I message my wife asking her to sort out my shower stuff, so I don’t have to go into the tent. After doing my best to avoid people as I cross the site to the shower block, I can confirm that never has a shower felt so good.
Now, to never speak of this again.