*tap, tap* Is this still on?
Christ, it’s been a while. How the hell are you?
Over a month has passed since my last posting on the ol’ blog. Things have been super busy at the Vegemite Ranch – or rather, away from it which is the reason behind the absence. The new job is going well (thanks for asking) and I’m running / cycling more than ever. Unlike the last boss who thought that 20 minutes on a cross-trainer at the gym was a decent workout and therefore didn’t necessarily approve of my training habits, the new guv’nor is fully on board. Better yet, he’s competitive about it, challenging me to virtual lunch time races and pace goals. Holy hell, if I don’t get a rocking set of abs out of this job, I’ll never get them.
So, half marathons are back ON. Already I’m five consecutive weekly halfs in and some decent ones planned around the continent.
First up was the Cahir Half in Southern Ireland. Pitched as a ‘downhill’ half, my interest was piqued. The Husband was busy cycling coast to coast again with the boys and I was at risk of being at a loose end. Not being one to sit home and pine, I was looking for pretty much any race within Europe that wouldn’t cost too many bones to get to. Flights, car hire and a hotel easily sorted, I rolled up to the start line, chatting to a nervous ginger lad called something with a spelling that looks like something else which seems pretty standard in those parts. I understood about 60% of what he said.
Quick warm-up and we’re told that there are pacers running with helium balloons for every ten minute race finish time except for the all-important 2 hour marker. Paddy O-Shit-fer-Brains wasn’t holding on to his balloon tightly enough. Cue a mass mumbling of ‘feckin eejit’ to some guy’s utter embarrassment. And we were off.
I’m not accustomed to running with other people, so this is usually quite a novelty. Except, of course, when some guy stinks from the very first mile of running then clings to me like a fucking barnacle. I upped my pace to shake him, but no dice. He stuck with me like shit to a blanket which, given his fragrance is apt. I noticed that everyone seemed to give him a wide berth and yet I still couldn’t break free. I became so paranoid that people would think the smell was me. Worse, I got even more paranoid that the smell actually was me until I finally dropped him 6 miles in and my nasal passages cleared.
Suffice to say I’d picked up a decent pace and although the course elevation only truly felt like it declined in say, the last half mile, I stormed it home in 1:43:09. A new personal best. I’ll take that.
The race was pretty well organised and offered showers at the end, which was fortunate as I had a flight to catch later that day and I was by then creating my own scent that threatened to outlast religion. It’s interesting to note the different attitudes to group open-shower facilities. Me, I’m not at all bothered and am no stranger to hammams and onsens, but a few of the Irish ladies entered the block to exclaim in horror sometime along the lines of ‘jaysus, mary and joseph, I’ll not be showering without my own cubicle, so I won’t’ and departed as quickly as they arrived. A super fit soap-covered Polish woman and I shared a knowing chuckle at this as we openly lathered in unison and conversed freely.
I didn’t stick around to witness the prize-giving ceremony (I came 4th in my category which wouldn’t have earned me a prize in any case) and high tailed it to Blarney to discover whether it was worth visiting. I figured I might as well pretend to soak up some culture.
Touring a new place on my own always makes me channel my inner Princess-Diana-at-the-Taj-Mahal self (but with better hair, obviously) and this was especially true at Blarney Castle which was overrun by romantic types cooing at each other, throwing coins into shallow man-made rivers and kissing a stone that I am reliably informed the locals piss on. I chose to lay about on the grass like a well dressed homeless person, stare up at the castle and listen to top rock choons. Which I think if she’d have had an iPod, Diana would have done too.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying I’m back.