I find running to be quite meditative. After the first two or three kilometres, I often find that I’m not really thinking about anything. Which is lovely, altogether. After seven or eight kilometres, however, this blissful state is usually punctured by an ankle, or a knee, or a hip reminding me that they’re the ones doing the work and doing so under some protest. At that stage I sometimes resort to a mantra, and I find it can be just the ticket if you land on the right one. Keeps the breathing and the pace steady. Previously, I tried “this is the rhythm”, but found there was no way I could utter those five syllables slowly enough to allow me to run at a speed suited to my abilities. I accelerated until I gassed out, in a lamentable failure to adhere to my panted refrain. My route this week handed me something much more usable.
On my sixteen and a half kilometre run on Tuesday (just a kilometre and half longer than last week’s effort, but I inched over the ten-mile mark at least), I passed through Chapelizod. A gorgeous part of Dublin, it has a lot going for it. But as a culchie recently moved to the capital, I remember the surprise and disappointment I felt when I first saw its name written down. I was certain I’d heard it pronounced ‘Chapel Lizard’. And for a country lad, a church full of reptiles nestled between the Phoenix Park and the Liffey was no more or less plausible than a barn full of dolphins on the Grand Canal.
“There’s no ‘r’ in Chapelizod!” I’d exclaimed to myself, as I asked the customer to confirm his address from my call centre chair. And here I was repeating it under my breath while passing through the War Memorial Gardens and along the river. It seemed to work. My pace remained pretty constant and my limbs got on with it without giving me too much bother. My time was a bit down on last week, but I felt much better afterwards and was out for another couple of shorter runs over the next few days.
One of those was to work, which was a most enjoyable seven kilometre morning jog. Until I got out of the shower and realised I hadn’t packed any trousers. On went the sweaty shorts again and out I traipsed looking for a shop selling men’s clothing at half eight on a Thursday morning. Thankfully, in Dublin you’re never more than five hundred metres from a Lidl. And so I made my way to the middle aisle wondering what, if anything, I might find. A pair of maroon XL men’s joggers for five euros, you say? That’ll do, although I hadn’t really considered that the recent return to the office has meant that one tends to be visible to colleagues from the waist down, at least for some portion of the day. Apparently, I looked like a child who’d had an accident and their teacher had been left with no option but to rummage through the school lost and found for replacement pants. This running is great for the mental health, alright.
I’d say I’ll be changing up the route and aiming to manage a bit of a longer distance again in the coming week. I have a mantra ready to go, inspired by a terrible joke a friend of mine used to always tell when I mentioned where I was living at the time. It’s got the same amount of syllables as this week’s, and it even rhymes with it. “Harold’s Cross? No, Harold’s livid”.