Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Perils of a Prominent Proboscis

Many apologies, dear readers, if you have been avid followers of my blog, for my protracted absence from the blogosphere! Unfortunately I have suffered injury and illness in equal measure, and this has resulted in a dearth of anecdotes and stirring stories of great bravery these past two weeks. Firstly, I was the victim of a terrible injury which left me in pain at every step and quite unable to run, whether as a winged fairy or mere mortal. OK, possibly not such a terrible injury, but it felt like I had cracked a rib or something, possibly due to an over zealous response to the urgings of the Gasper during my fifteen minutes at her mercy one day. Probably just a pulled muscle, but very painful nonetheless.

As if to compound my problems, I was just about recovered from this when I fell victim to a lurgy of the head, nose and throat which has persisted these five days past. As I am in possession of a nose of generous proportions, I need elucidate no further, and I am sure you can imagine the enormity of my distress. The nose will feature again in today’s report, but more of that anon.

Given the sub-zero temperatures of recent days I considered it wise not to venture out and potentially exacerbate and prolong the awful fever, but instead to remain in the relative warmth and safety of my draughty abode until the sickness was passed, and would have wished to remain indolent beyond that time. However, the day of reckoning will soon be upon me, when I will have little choice but to don the silvery gown, waggle my wings and wand, and step forth on the fine streets of Bath for what I expect will be well beyond the two-hour mark! So, with this in mind, and much recovered this morning, I rose in the darkness before dawn determined to exercise my limbs and lungs along the frost-bejewelled paths of the local park.

Surprisingly, despite the minus 8-degree temperature, there was very little actual frost due (I surmised) to a dearth of vapours in the early morning air. Bonus! This means I had little fear of holding my footing and could concentrate instead on keeping a good tempo and pace. Frost, maybe not, but the cold was extreme for my unaccustomed body and brain! As I sucked in the icy air I almost cried it was so cold! Here was Mother Earth using the heat of my core to warm her atmosphere thirty times every minute, and it felt I was receiving little in exchange. Well, maybe some precious oxygen, so I suppose I mustn’t complain!

There were few fellow residents out at this hour, when the Sun was yet to cast her golden gaze upon the river, save a couple of young women in loose charge of a border collie who was delighting in rolling on his back on the frost-covered grass and running furiously in  long zigzags in front of them.

As I passed the two women I heard heavy steps behind me and wondered if it was the echo of my own bouncing back from the opposite bank in the surrounding stillness. But no – I was presently passed by a madman, around thirty years my junior, clad only in singlet and shorts! Here was I in thermal top, gloves and space pants, and there he went with his red calves driving him off into the distance in front of me! I estimated he was running around ninety seconds a mile faster than me, but as I rounded a corner he was suddenly nowhere to be seen! Had his raw flesh succumbed entirely to the cold and shattered into a billion pieces, leaving nothing but fragile frosty dust to mark his passing? No – glancing to the side I noticed dark footprints in the frozen grass, separated by long strides and leading inexorably to an ever-diminishing figure in the distance. He was taking shortcuts! Tut! I felt a sense of smugness that I had no intention of curtailing my excursion – I would fulfil my remit and not shirk by shrinking my planned course!

I was surprised that, given the conditions and my not inconsiderable layoff, I was running quite strongly. My breathing was good, my eyes were not bulging out of their sockets, and my legs, toasty and warm in my space pants, felt comfortable and fresh. As I passed the weir the waters of the river became seemingly motionless, as if waiting anxiously to cast themselves over the precipice and join the broader stream below and meet the incoming tide. A wispy mist hung over the river here, and there emerged black forms squeaking and flapping their stubby wings – moorhens, I think, if moorhens squeak.

There were little islands of ice on the path as I ran along, marking the small depressions where moisture had accumulated and frozen, an no doubt completely invisible on a warm, dry day. Up to this point I had been aware of frozen fingers and a face taut as a plaster mask, but as I made my turn I began to feel the bloodflow returning to my hands and a warmth pervading my body. All but my tongue, it seemed, which with every inhalation was frozen to the core, then reheated and revitalised with every hot exhalation – how wonderful is the human body to cope so admirably with these two extremes in such rapid succession?

As I embarked on the final half-mile home I could hear a low groan each time I expelled breath, which I must assume was coming from my throat – perhaps protesting at this exertion after a period of comfort and convalescence? No matter, I was soon home and back in my relatively warm house. It was only after a short thaw that I began to notice the pain commencing – my nose, having been subjected to an unprotected thirty-five minutes of subzero temperatures was now beginning to heat up again and as the hot blood returned my thoughts became entirely concentrated on the pain of its revival! Ouch!

Very surprised to have recorded my fastest time for this morning’s course during my current period of training, despite my layoff, so that at least is encouraging and I may actually make it to the end of the Bath Half Marathon in four weeks time!

Time               34 mins 52 secs
Distance         3.63 miles
Pace               9:36 per mile
BG before      8.8 mmol/l
BG after         10.0 mmol/l

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