THE BFG meets Fantastic Mr. Fox

CAN a fox kill a man?

That’s not a question you think you’ll be asking yourself when you’re planning for a marathon, but sometimes these questions just have to be asked. Now as an educated man I should probably know the answer to that question anyway, but the only business I’ve ever had with foxes is of the Roald Dahl variety. Back in Primary four the whole class were given ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ to read and my eyes were opened to the magical world of Mr. Dahl.

However, in Mr. Fox’s adventures against Boggis, Bunce and Bean, there was never a mention of what a fox might do if he encountered a bag of bones running by his house in the middle of the night.

If had just finished a run down and up the Skeoge Road on Thursday night and I was dandering back home when I looked to my left and ten feet away from me, a fox, stony faced and silent, was staring intently at me.

Immediately two thoughts entered my head:

a.) Am I in trouble here?

b.) Alan Healy would know how to handle this.

Not wanting to make any sudden movements, I slowly edged myself to the kerb, and slowly but surely walked to the other side of the road. I kept looking back over my shoulder just in case, but the fox never moved. I like to think the fox was also thinking two things.

a.) Someone that skinny is not worth it.

B.) If only it was Alan Healy.

That particular run was my third of four in this past week, and what a week it has been.

The Walled City Marathon is edged ever closer, much too quickly for my liking. I may have run more miles this week than I did last week, but that was spread over four runs, as I stick religiously to a marathon planner handed to me by the coaches at BOLT Running club.

I went out with BOLT last Monday for the first time, and as it was my first time I stuck with someone I knew. An old bosss of mine was limbering up and I asked if I could stick with him and his mucker, imagining a huge group of us running the six mile course that had been set out at the start.

Had I iknown what would follow I would have told the old boss ‘See ye later’.

Off he and his mucker went ahead of the rest so I jogged along, keeping a steady enough pace. The first wee while was grand, but the steady pace the two were keeping was not getting any less steady and by the time we had run the Buncrana Road, up Queen’s Quay, over the Peace Bridge and back down towards Sainsbury’s, I was seriously wondering if I could keep up.

When I’m running myself I keep a pace that’s comfortable and I’ve managed 13 miles three times because of it, but this was seriously steady running and I finally wilted in the last half mile. The two left me for dust and I struggled to the finish line, where I was informed that I had done 6.6 miles, six of which I was ran without letting up. In hindsight I think I did well to last as long as I did, but I doub very much that I’ll be running with the boss again.

And that’ the biggest thing I’ve realised this week.

There is just no point trying to beat certain times in this thing, especially in my first marathon. I’ve been doing this all along hoping to get just over four hours come the big day in May. As things stand I’m going to end up coming in at around four and a half, and after the week I’ve had on the roads, I’ll take it.

It’s about running as comfortably as you can for as long as you can and nothing else. That’s what I’ve realised. I was out on Saturday night and tried to push it for the first mile to get my time down, but I was wrecked half a mile in. I spent the rest of the time taking it at my own pace and I was grand. I can’t remember who said it but the truth of the matter comes down to another two points:

a.) The Marathon is not a race, at least not for someone like me.

b.) The medal I get is the same as the medal that the winner gets.

So whether it’s four hours, five hours or seven hours, what matters here is that I finish the 26. 2 miles, because no matter what happens on the day, and no matter who is faster than me, I will have done it, and no one can take it away from me.

As well as the four runs this week, I’ve also started doing some much needed core work, thanks to some welcome advice from Mr. and Mrs Shawn and Debbie Barron, who, although they won’t like to admit it, clearly see me as the tall son they’ve never had.

I appreciate every morsel of wisdom, I surely do.

NB- A fox CAN kill a man, but only if the man is very tiny and/or unconscious. I suppose I would have been alright, but Fantastic Mr. Fox was a crafty buggar, so I wasn’t taking any chances!

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