I have just started to train for the Viking Half Marathon here in Waterford at the end of June. The longest race I have done is five miles so I am looking forward to the challenge. Today was earmarked for the weeks big run:7 miles or 11.2km(as I have been running in kilometers).
My left hamstring, normally a taciturn sort of chap compared with my other leg muscles, who are a wee bit high-maintenance, had set up a bit of a whinge earlier in the week which made me cancel yesterdays regular run. I knew I would have to take it easy and prepare properly for today so last night I ate take-out food, chocolate, biscuits and drank two large beers, falling into bed at 1am. Stupid, stupid girl.
I park near the pier and I was off. The plan is to do a circuit of the dunes and run back up to the car. At the start I struggle, feeling tired. It is hot and the first leg on the north side of the beach is windless. I wish I had worn the white baseball hat my friend Marina had given me. Still, I keep going.
It is a beautiful day. On the Back Strand I spot an egret standing in the shimmering green shallows between the sand banks and stop for a second to take a photo but it came out looking like a speck of dust on my StupidPhone© camera.
There are a few people walking but not many as everyone seems to be convinced that the dunes are full of bogey men. Give me the bogey men any day. In fact I think I’ll take to dressing up like one occasionally to keep the place to myself. It’s like a different country down here, the wind dies and it often seems to be hotter, a different climate. The shallow green water running between the sand banks under low clouds drifting is home to all sorts of birds. I run on, the delicious crunch of stones beneath my feet.
Rounding the dunes I check the pedometer for the first time. Exactly half way. Running into a fresh breeze makes the run suddenly easier. The wind blowing through my loose top cools me down and feels glorious. There isn’t a soul in sight across the widening beach. The tide is out and the turquoise sea is breaking white on a sandbank bank that curves far out from the shore.
The clouds are building again in the high sky over the bay and I can see the pillars of Westown on the far headland, an unfamiliar shape from this angle, and beyond the hazy coast to Dungarvan. The sand is dry and yellowing to white, uplighting the panorama I am virtually scrolling through. I could be in the tropics.
I am finding the rhythm now, my breath is loud but regular and deep, my upper is body moving smoothly back and forth around the steel of my spine, my feet pushing backwards over hard sand, my legs flowing effortlessly from my hips. I don’t often hit this but when I do it is out of this world.
There are pains. The left hamstring has passed the baton of ache to my left calf who has encouraged both my Achilles tendons to began to strum in time. By the time the run is over the tightness will have worked it’s way back to my right hamstring, the place where it seems most comfortable.
The run, despite the aches, amazingly, stays easy from here on in. I am glad I did the hot, lumpy part of the run first as I would have been really struggling now. I check my pedometer half way back up the beach to find to my dismay that the battery has run out without warning. It’s still managing to display how far I had come when it collapsed:9:24 km.
Now I have to try to use the clock on my phone, which is set 5 minutes fast, to calculate roughly how much longer I will have to run to reach my target. Too much like maths to me but I come up with a figure of an hour and fifteen minutes and that will have to do.
I come off the beach at the Ladies slip and head up Gallweys hill. I had developed a theory that the uphill muscles that I hadn’t used on the beach would be fresh and come into their own on the hill. Unfortunately the uphill muscles, thinking they weren’t needed seem to have fallen asleep. I manage though I would have been faster walking.
I decide to cut across the Doneraile walk which runs along the cliffs on the west side of Tramore Bay. I pass the cannon that dates from 1891 and used to belong to the Coastguard and then I pass the old Coastguard Station which is now an Arts Centre and gallery. I turn right there and head down Love Lane by the end of which I have reached my target time and none the worse for it either.
Calling by the supermarket on the way home, I catch a glimpse of myself in the plate glass window and somehow, after all this running, I am still not looking anywhere like the whippet thin girl I used to be. Damn. Still, I guess with the fine pair of legs on me, I’ll have no trouble kicking the shit of anyone who calls me fat.
On the way back to the house the cloudbursts begin. Looks like I got the best part of the day.