The lunch time run. Preserve of the athlete, the chiseled definition of dedication and commitment. Turns out it’s the preserve of the unfit and the less than alluring masses determined to fight age off with a particularly fragile stick.

A quick 5k I told myself. I had an hour and thought I’d plod around, maximizing my time in a slow, endurance building jog. I hit  the Bracknell suburbs and the first thing I noticed was the stairs. Every cycle path ends in stairs, it makes no sense.

More disturbingly I’m pretty sure I stumbled upon the set of ‘The Wire’. If you need motivation to get your pace up, along with your heart rate, I can’t recommend anything more than a joyful lunchtime run through downtown Bracknell. All I needed was Jimmy and Bunk and we’d have been in Baltimore.

Downtown Bracknell/Baltimore
Downtown Bracknell/Baltimore

Amid the beautiful scenery I’m confident I’ve found out where old sofas go to die, and it’s not my shed, contrary to the evidence that’s presented itself over the last 10 years.

Feeling about as comfortable as the singing detective in a jumpsuit full of fire-ants I tried to find some semblance of a safe looking area. I jogged painfully up stairways, under walkways, through closed precincts and I failed to find a local shop that wasn’t boarded up with sheet metal whilst the smell of fear oozed from my pores. I didn’t need my heart rate monitor to tell me I was peaking as I could feel my overstretched blood bag thumping out of my ears whilst my lungs made a frenzied attempt to escape via my back end. The jog came to an unplanned crescendo as I crossed the killing fields at the back of the estate.

Having followed a well marked path into a small copse it abruptly ended in the middle of a small clearing. The only options were to either;

  1. Run back
  2. Forge my own path like a clumsy Ray Mears

Some passing dog walkers recoiled in a combination of pity and terror as I emerged growling from a tangled mess of brambles, nettles and used condoms. Their dog growling and twitching whilst bearing its teeth. I could find no words to justify my appearance from the bushes and I’m pretty sure they could sense the desperation in my now soulless eyes. I’m convinced the gates of hell were somewhere in those woods as I’ve not seen such a vicious dark eyed beast since hanging out in Reading’s Utopia in the 90’s. For reference the dog was a salivating Alsatian/wolf hybrid and it definitely wasn’t a Pekinese, no matter who tells you otherwise.

As the sun began to set I finally emerged somewhere familiar and could see the office in the distance, past the smoldering set from the Warriors.  Mustering my best ‘it’s not hurting’ lope I finished off the turmoil, impressing the locals with a jog in to the finish akin to a Walking Dead extra with an odour to match. A 30 minute blast had taken me an hour.

At least I could wash the trauma from my body before getting back to work. Unfortunately the showers in the office don’t work unless you hold the shower head at ankle level to get the pressure going. I can’t describe how testing it is to wash and shampoo whilst crouching like Gollum in a shower cubicle the size of R2D2’s travel bag. The fluctuation of tepid to ice cold soon gets too much and after dropping the shower head and receiving an inadvertent enema one too many times it was a sign to get out and get back to work. That would be if my legs hadn’t cramped from the 10 minute Gollum crouch I’d been forced to endure. I’ll spare you the details of which end pointed upward, but if you’ve seen Tom Daley dive, it’s like that with slightly less finesse and a bit more flesh and face/floor action.

I wrapped the experience up, literally. In my hurry in the morning I’d grabbed a clean pair of shorts from the washing pile that belonged to my 9 year old son. Snug isn’t the word, still they say compression after a run helps keep the blood flowing.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s bike ride. Perhaps I’ll let the tyres down and wear a trench coat just to keep things interesting.

50 minutes, 5 miles and a lifetime of night terrors.