This evening I went to the track, and didn’t fall in the toilet. Perhaps it’s a sign of how low my expectations are that this counts as something to celebrate.
I haven’t run since last Tuesday, what with being sick and being tired from staying up too late reading books and whatnot, but as it was rainy this afternoon and I’m over my cold, and as my wife is going out on Wednesday, I had to go to the track tonight.
I didn’t have to eat an entire plate of garlic infused broccoli before I went to the track, but then I’m not the greatest of decision-makers, and there was nothing else I could eat at the office apart from miniature Cornettos and barbecue flavour crisps, so what else was there to do? Admittedly, I could have eaten at 6, rather than less than an hour before the session began, but again, not the greatest of decision-makers.
It was wet but not slippery at the track. While the track at the Home Of Athletics is growing rippled and bumpy, Evans Road is less than a year old and so the track is still flat. I give it another year before it begins to bubble up again and begin to resemble a badly laid carpet. For now, it’s good, although the lush grass of the rugby field inside the track is once more verboten to all normal mortals. It has to be protected so it can be damaged by people with the right kind of footwear, I suppose.
Today I went back up into the B+ group. (My phone tries to autocorrect that to "Bottom+" – does it mean "bottom positive"? Is it being snarky? Who knows?). I only promoted myself from the B group because I arrived twenty minutes too late for the earlier session because, well, garlic-infused broccoli. That meant today I had to run 5×1100 metres, at somewhere between 1:32 and 1:38 per lap. Last week I was banging out 1:42s like a clockwork soldier, so this wasn’t unattainable, but there was no way I was getting down the sharp end.
On the first go-round, things already felt much too fast. That was worrying because the first few laps always feel easy, even if the same pace sustained for the whole session makes you feel like death by the end. Still, I was doing the first 100m in 22 or 23 seconds, much quicker than necessary. What then? You can’t try to go 5 seconds slower on the next 100m to try to get the lap time on target, can you? I ended up swapping places a few times with a few people, sometimes a bit too quick, sometimes a bit too slow. I’m just grateful I wasn’t at the front, as in some broccoli inspired delirium I calculated 1100 metres as 3.75 laps of a 400 metre track. That would have been a long long run.
The next few laps were just as tough. I took off my vest after the first two sets, and I’d already sweated so much that I was wringing it out for five minutes after the end of the session. By the fourth repeat I knew I could not go any further, and it was just a matter of whether I gave up there or then or did one consolation lap in the fifth set.
But by doing this, I fooled my body into going out for a fifth time. First lap was a 1:34.4, second lap was a massive deterioration to 1:40.1 (after I’d run the first 100m dead on pace at 24 seconds, that means a big drop off later on) and as other charged past me on the last 300m, all that kept me going was knowing I’d got all the way around this evening.
I paused, drank some water, recovered my breath, and tooled around the track for three laps of a five lap warm down, then slipped away from the group and jogged awkwardly to the toilet block, a stifling hot building which I’d describe as airless if it wasn’t abundantly clear that it had an atmosphere. 90% nitrogen, 20% evaporated piss, zero space for mathematics.
Then I found myself in urgent waste disposal mode, with my legs and arms both beginning to shudder as they cramped up. For a few horrifying moments I lost my balance, nothing to grab hold of, about to fall backwards into a mess of my own devising, before miraculously my quads gave up giving up the ghost, and propelled me upright to safety once more. Visions of being stuck in that modern oubliette, plaintively crying for help, raced through my mind. Between the stench and the embarrassment I don’t think I would have survived more than a few minutes.
I can’t blame the broccoli. This is my fourth week in a row that running and toilets have not been pleasantly combined. At least I’ve not discovered any new and innovative ways to expunge substances from my body.
After this near calamity, I gingerly left the stall, washed my hands like Pontius Pilate and then beat a retreat to the MRT to head home. So, a successful night had by all, I suppose.