I was always just a bit slow. Slow-limbed, slow-witted. In school once we had to write an essay entitled “My Hero” and all the kids wrote about Nelson Mandela or Neil Armstrong but I wrote about my friend Breda who sat beside me because she could run fast and was good at Maths.
I consoled myself that my secret quality was endurance. I was the Triumphant Tortoise who would eventually think of a smart answer by the next day and could run long-distance forever, after I got into my stride. I did come somewhere in a long-distance race once, back in the mists of time.
But even I was shocked at my own feebleness on my first day of the running challenge as agreed with Niall and Dave. January 21, 2015. Round the dark streets of Stoneybatter. Run is hardly the word. You could have out-walked me. I hobbled at a half-trot for 10 minutes precisely and may not even have covered a mile. The meniscus in my right knee niggled, my inner groin complained, I was as weak as an old, old lady. But I’m only 39. Right. Time for the Tortoise.
February 3, 2015 (mid-way point). It will be full moon in six minutes, 23:09. Today I ran 20 minutes in warm sun in the park, the longest I’ve run so far. My legs were leaden. And now I will look at the moon and go to bed.
February 22, 2015 (the end) On the 30th day of the challenge, I ran for 30 minutes around Stoneybatter at about 11pm and it felt marvellous. I had the small streets to myself and the legs felt light and fluid, flying! The challenge was both easier and harder than I expected. The improvement came slower than I thought, and for the majority of the runs I struggled. But those few days when legs felt light and breathing deep and even were a joy. Doing it every day was not a problem. I easily prioritised the run over, say, being on time for work. But I don’t think I could have kept it up for longer than 30 days… sore feet now and shins splinting. Overall, the challenge was a quiet pleasure that gave me valuable headspace and lovely lungfuls of clear winter air. We had an amazingly dry month and to see the dear deer relaxing in the Phoenix Park of a sunny morning before work was a treat I would have otherwise missed. The park! It feels more like my park now. This challenge has been thoroughly recommended, by a Tortoise.
Niall and Dave have described this really well.
It was tremendous fun walking under the Phoenix park in a tunnel that you couldn’t see the end of. Why had we never done it before? Everybody should do it. This tunnel is a civic amenity! So what if Iarnród Eireann can fine you €1,000 if they catch you, just don’t get caught.
It’s kind of a miracle the man smoking on his balcony in his Conyngham Road apartment didn’t see us. Five of us, climbing noisily through thick undergrowth up a steep embankment about 20 metres from where he stood, debating about thorn bushes and access points and CCTV. It was only when we got to the top and hauled ourselves onto the wall that we noticed him and started to shout loudly to each other “SSSSHH!! GET DOWN”. He was probably watching us boredly all along.
The tunnel itself was about two stories high – not exactly squeezing ourselves through the gap of danger, but I’m massively claustrophic so I was secretly relieved I didn’t have to take the emergency Zanax in my pocket. But this little jaunt has given us all a taste for more trespassing. We SHALL find more tunnels under the park.
Perhaps our next destination could be The Swan culvert, which runs from the Liffey, under Dame Street and out at Dublin Castle. It’s an underground river which can only be accessed at low tide. We might need to get certificates in Confined Spaces and Safe Pass. But I know someone who could arrange that…..
Em….I have an appointment to give blood next week. Epic fail. I’ll get back to you.
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