Monday, 29 April 2013

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Biff

I'm so fucking sick of myself. Why don't I, instead of updating my Facebook status 100 times a day, do a few more lengthier articles with a bit more depth? Honestly, yesterday (Sunday) I updated my status no less than six fucking times throughout the day. On one occasion I did so just to vent my spleen at James Fucking Nesbitt for the heinous crime of being a Manchester United fan. Ok so there is some justification for that, but it doesn't make it any more interesting. By the end of the day I was reduced to simpy announcing that I was 'not feeling too chipper'. By which point nobody was listening not even, as the Hootie song might have it, the trees.

So let me tell you about my foray into the world of roadwork. Not wearing a hard helmet (please) and digging around randomly to cause traffic congestion, but actually getting out there on the roads to try and improve my general fitness. Since my not-trumpeted retirement from wheelchair basketball nearly seven years ago I have morphed into a Homer-shaped ball of biffiness and something has to be done. I've tried the gym but it's useless. You can't get much aerobic fitness from lifting weights, so sessions quickly become dispiriting. Especially when the rugby players and the plastic glamour models are pounding the steppers all around you. Actually, I quite liked the plastic glamour models.

On the road you can be on your own, with nobody to have to compare yourself to. I was inspired to do this by a friend of mine who has recently taken to running and has lost a good few stones in weight in the process. Both my technological duncery and my disinclination to take the trouble to top up my phone meant that I had to download the free version of the Runkeeper app for my phone, which uses GPS to track how far I go. All well and good, except it takes a full minute to find your location when you activate it. It's a minute you can spend either on your way regardless, or sat outside your house waiting for it to find you while the clock ticks, robbing you of precious seconds for your records. I choose the latter and just knock a minute off when I get back. It's unscientific, but it is at least consistent.

I started with a gentle push to Sherdley Park with Emma. We did one circuit around the park and came home, which left us with a grand total of 3.2 miles that first day. Since when she has come down with a cold, a cough and problems with her ears. Exercise makes you ill, officially. All of which has meant that I have had to go out on my own for the last couple of weeks. The first of those occasions I chose to try and make it towards Prescot. This quickly turned into the worst decision since Bowie's latest comeback. Don't you hate that fucking advert? It's just noise? And this man is a legend. Anyway, I'm digressing just a little there. It was a poor decision because between my house and Prescot is Scholes Lane, and Scholes Lane is long, uphill and incredibly steep. It seems to go on forever, and you cannot imagine how soul destroying it is to reach the top, haul yourself over the road to The Grapes and find that you have managed a quite apologetic 1.7 miles. If I had gone straight back home at that point I would have made it to 3.4, which is more than I had managed on my first attempt but not as many as I wanted. So I carried on to The Wellington which took me to just a tick over 2 miles, and within a hare's bollock of a coronary.

Typically, and in keeping with my fuckwittery, I had to share this information on Facebook immediately. As if sharing it with others would somehow motivate me or keep my interest. When I did I was informed by a friend that he goes on a 14 mile push around the roads near his home. I couldn't get near 14 miles in my sorry state, but I knew that if I could find a flatter route than the one to The Wellington then I could manage more than the 4.1 miles I eventually ended up with by the time I got back from The Welly.

So the next time I decided to push to the retail park on the edge of St.Helens town centre. There's a Boots there where I get my meds, but I declined to go in because whenever I do there is a near unresolvable misunderstanding and ensuing drama which simply does not allow time for getting fit. I took the long route down Dorothy Street, all the way up Elephant Lane (if you live outside Thatto Heath I assure you I am quite aware that I might aswell be describing areas on Mars), down the linkway past the gyppo caravan park, and then left at the McDonalds and on through the retail park past Boots. When I got to Smyth's toy store next door I looked at the Runkeeper and it crushed my spirit once more, informing me that I had managed 1.9 miles. It felt like 1.9 marathons. Determined to get past the 4.1 miles I had already done I began an absurd lap of honour around the retail park. Bemused shoppers looked on as I pointlessly rolled around the car park with no intention of entering a shop, much less buy anything. This might have provided a mild moment of interest for the several men I saw who's spirits looked utterly drained at the prospect of another four hours in B & Q, but this is an optimistic view. Back at Smyth's five minutes later and I had still only managed 2.3 miles. Add that to the 1.9 to get back (the reverse journey) and I was still only looking at 4.2 miles. Another lap. More bemused onlookers, one suspicious glance from security at PC World. Ironic that they might think I am the thief.

On the way back I bumped into the inevitable dog-walker down by the caravan park. Now, I am not scared of dogs, but I do detest it when the dog is straining on his leash to get to you, eyeballing you and salivating and his owners says;

"It's alright, he doesn't bite."

Surely this is what every dog owner says 40 seconds before their beloved pet locks his jaws around some poor unfortunate's head?

There's also a brief exchange of pleasantries with a couple of gyppo children and a quite agonising last few hundred yards past the League Of Gentleman shop on Elephant Lane before I get back and whack my unimpressive achievements straight on to Facebook. This time, I aim for irony with the admission that the marathon is looking a long way off. About 21.5 miles off to be precise. And anyway, if I enter the London Marathon there is a good chance that some female runner will step in front of me and ruin my chair and my race, and then I'll get all the blame from the BBC. And nobody wants that. But maybe I will enter a shorter charity event in the not too distant future. A five or a 10K might not be beyond me judging by what I have done so far.

Just don't expect me to keep it off fucking Facebook.

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