Many thanks to Aaron Gourley for the title, suggested on the Hardmoors Ultra Marathons group on feckbook.
I was a little apprehensive about adding what is essentially a tale of alcohol and stupidity on my blog, given that my mum is a regular reader (hello mum!). However, as I told her about it already earlier today, I figure I’m good to go without risking a bit of a telling off…
Last week was my friend Martin’s birthday. Now, I’ve known Martin for just about ever, my longest, bestest friend, the best man at my wedding and my partner in crime for many a mildly inebriated night of chatter.
As you do, we sought out the local hostelry and commenced to drink. One pint, two pints, another pint more. So it went. All good, jolly and a increasingly relaxed.
What I didn’t realise, was that Marin had a dark secret – yes, a dark secret.
He usually goes for the bus and I know that if I stumble to the Metro at the same time, then all is good. However, his dark secret was that he’d decided to get a taxi (it was his birthday, after all). As time went by, I had no knowledge of this terrible dark secret until I glanced at my watch. It was 11:30, “aren’t you going for your bus?”, I asked. He explained the dark secret, and I realised I’d messed up. I made my (mildly slurring) goodbyes and headed to the Metro. It’s fine though, the Metro runs until forever, so I’d have no problem.
Except it doesn’t.
The only Metro I could get back was stopping at Benton, a good way short of home, but you take what you can get (and while a bit drunk, don’t often think you could just get a taxi from where you are).
On I jumped, and off the Metro went. It got to Benton, and I got off. In my head, I had a plan that I would get a taxi from Benton, which would be much less than being fleeced in Newcastle city centre.
But there were no taxis.
Some mildly dodgy bloke asked if I was going by Shiremoor, I said yes, I was off to Whitley Bay but I was thinking about walking. That was precisely the moment the die was cast by the uncertain fates, taking the decision entirely out of my hands. At that exact moment, a particle of inspiration, sleeting through the universe collided with his brain, created a thought and (to cut a long story short) he said, “you can’t walk to the coast from here!”. I’m sure I heard the exclamation mark at the end, I swear I did.
Shut down taxi-seeking mode, fire up stubbornness module, and lo-and-behold, I said “I think you’ll find you’re wrong”, and strode off into the night.
One-nil to me against the forces of incredulity, but an own goal on the getting home front. A quick check on Google Maps suggested it was a cool eight miles back to the house. That’s a fair ol’ bit of a walk, especially at midnight, and especially after a pint or six.
To cut time down a little, maybe I could jog a little bit? I mean, I was wearing my Vivobarefoot Neos, so they’re running shoes. Ok, so I’m in jeans and a t-shirt, but I have also got a hoody on, that’s like Rocky’s training montage, right?
I jogged a little. It was OK. In fact, it was quite nice. The warm anaesthesia of the alcohol gave me the same lack of feeling that a good long run with some endorphins gives (well, maybe not quite the same, in fact it was pretty much totally different, but I was trying to convince myself at this point, so it was fab).
I walked a little, I was a bit knackered after all that drinking you understand. Then I ran a bit, not jogging, but running. And a bit more. This is cool, why don’t I do all my running half-cut? No, that’s alcoholism, surely?
I hit the Coast Road, the arterial path from Newcastle to the coast. In my head a little scenario had developed, it went like this:
- When I sold a car a few months ago, it was to a place on the Coast Road
- I ran back form there
- It took half an hour
- It felt OK
- I am heading to the Coast Road
- When I hit it, I will only have a half hour to go
- That is good
It was point 6 where everything went wrong. You see, the Coast Road is a good ten miles long, I’d guess, and the bit with the car-selling place was near the coast end. The bit where I joined up was closer to the Newcastle end. How I nearly laughed. Still, if I’d ever got around to having a motto (other than “pass the cake”, but that’s more of a former motto) it could well have been “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Or perhaps “look, ma, I’m running”, with a chaser of “I’m still going!”. Something like that, anyway.
I gamely continued up the Coast Road, past the all night garage, past Silverlink shopping complex and past Tesco. It was slightly weird running in jeans, and I had the feeling I’d get arrested at some point for looking like I was fleeing the scene of a crime (with a vague hope they might take me home after discovering I was innocent). Not as chafey as I’d worried, which was nice. The Vivos were doing a great job too, no tweaking from the feet, despite the slightly unsteady gait.
To the end of the Coast Road, and that was when I realised there was a way to go yet – down to Morrisons, to the coast and then along to Whitley Bay. Crivens!
However, I also realised that I’ve successfully run this bit before, granted whilst sober, but I had, and that meant I could, so I should bloomin’ get on with doing it.
It’s odd, at 1am, just how few people are out on the paths, and in fact how few people are running. I passed maybe one or two fairly drunk folk who goggled. It’s possible they beer-goggled, but it was dark and hard to tell. I realised, witnessing their shambolic wandering about the path, that I was now quite sober in comparison to the state I’d started off in.
Running along the sea front, seeing the sea and the lights on the container ships out to sea, it was genuinely beautiful. Another one of those moments where I’m glad I’ve done something strange or stupid, or just plain different because of where it leads me. If I didn’t think it would sound irresponsible, I’d encourage all of you to have a go at running drunk at midnight along the sea front. Sounds like the start of a Miss Marple book, right? So that’s that’s why I’m not suggesting you should do it*. Not at all**.
All too soon, it was time to cut up off the front and back home. I thought (briefly) about keeping going a bit, but let’s be honest, I’ve jsut run eight miles in my jeans, I’m feeling a little grungy.
So, back in the door at 1:30am, to be greeted by Mrs Angrybees who’d just woken up and wondered where the heck I’d got to. I explained that I would have called, but clearly that would have woken her up and I was hoping she’s sleep ignorantly through the whole strange escapade. It nearly worked too…
I quickly ditched my squelchy gear and off to bed I went. One day later, I came back to my t-shirt and found it was not just still damp, but wet. Properly wet. I was tempted to wring it out and see if it was neat alcohol, but the mild (and manly) sweaty odour put me off.
Just goes to show, eh?
*OK, that’s a lie, I am encouraging you, it was mint!
**Well, perhaps a little.