I had the pleasure of seeing Mark on Friday in a work context and the incredibly flowery shirt that he was wearing has led me to an admittedly spurious and totally illogical conclusion. I don’t have a photo of the aforementioned shirt so you’ll need to take my word for it, but the material must have been designed in the late 1960s!
I think that Mark was wearing it to distract onlookers from realising that his body was actually elsewhere, masquerading as a mannequin. Fortunately I do have a photo of his body, standing casually in the window of a running shop in Queens Road, easily identifiable by the degree to which… er, I’m sorry to be blunt about this… his nipples stand out.
Mark won’t mind me mentioning this, I’m sure, since it is well known that he buys Vaseline in industrial containers to reduce friction rash in this area when running… and you can see why from this photo.
As those people who know both Mark and I will attest, there is a vague visual similarity between us. It’s as if someone has squashed me from above, goatee and all, forcing my body and legs (yes, etcetera!) to bulge out. This might help explain why he calls himself Mini-me, though the name could work for either of us!
But, for the record (Karen Scott) we’re not actually related… I meant to confess that I was pulling your leg, but got sidetracked… sorry!
Mark is busy competing in yet another marathon today (number 55?) and after my not running last weekend he shamed me into committing to a run today. I decided the fastest way to get back into shape was on the treadmill, so after a couple of quadspressos and a banana this morning I climbed aboard with the aim of completing five miles.
I talk a lot (both here and in person) about the tension between conscious and sub-conscious and here was to be a battle worthy of mentioning.
I decided to do intervals, running every other quarter-mile at 6mph in order to recover. The alternate quarter-miles started at at 6.5 mph and rose in 0.5 mph increments to 10 mph, before reducing again in the same way.
Adapting as the speed increased turned out to be okay, since the recovery period each time was quite generous, but having run a quarter-mile at 10 mph I didn’t manage to catch my breath before having to run at 9.5 mph. This would have been okay if I was just running 5 miles, but by this point I had decided to run further and probably for an hour.
This is where the subconscious starts to kick in, trying valiantly to stop the body from running itself out of energy. In a straight fight the conscious would always lose (you might be able to happily dance along a plank of wood on the ground, but place it between two rooftops and the subconscious will tell you it’s impossible to walk across), so instead it needs to play little tricks in order to get its way.
Strategies that I used today included: deciding that I would stop after the next recovery phase, be it the one following 10, 9.5 or 9 mph (and then not doing so on each occasion); focusing on something else by counting down the distance to the end of each faster quarter in breaths taken (five breaths to 0.1 mile); pointing out to myself that each interval was getting easier; and then by focusing on the pleasure of being able to write this post without having to confess that I wimped out when the going got tough.
There was eventually a compromise. Having successfully got back down to 6.5 mph and run the subsequent recovery interval at 6 mph, I then relented and walked the final quarter to 8 miles as a cool-down. At which point even the machine told me to STOP.
So 8 miles in just under 72 minutes, including the walk, averages at 6.67 mph and just about did me in… as you can see from my face below!
Having chilled my legs with a cold shower and eaten lots of peanut butter on toast I now feel pretty good, but only time will tell how well I will be able to walk come Tuesday morning. All bets are off, but there’s a good chance that I will be walking markedly like a mannequin!