Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Not falling down but walking

The sympathetic word can wound more deeply that any caustic taunt from an onlooker.

People in high visibility jackets clap politely as I walk the roads of Phoenix Park on my own.

They are stewards for an eight kilometre race organised as the first of four warm-ups for the Dublin city marathon, now only some 17 weeks away, down the road.

They say: well done, almost there, when I am still ages away from the end.

The running pack is gone ahead; the stragglers lost in the distance behind me.

Such words are meant kindly, for they believe me to be a runner who has run out of steam and needing encouragement.

Instead, I am a walker nearly losing consciousness from the thrill of passing out overweight joggers who it seems will reach their mortal end before they meet a finish line on this earth.

A man on a bicycle coming down a steep hill says gruffly to me that I should get to grips with matters athletic: I don't know his exact words for he is freewheeling down the hill while I am power walking up it.

I will finish in the low 3,000s out of 5,000 starters, mostly runners; but that does not seem to matter to the well-sayers.

The man on the public address at the end seems to be particularly concerned at my pace: that of a capable walker finishing strongly where he believes, wrongly, that I am a runner who has lost faith.

He addresses me by my name, having found it on the entrant's list.

The god of rain joins in to drench me with driving vertical rain.

I do not care; for I am home now.

I even run a little for the finishers' cameraman.

God forgive me.
Personal best, I'd say.
Storytelling here



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