There's a guy at our running club - there's probably one at every running club - who is a bit of a character. Not in a bad way, Roy's just a really interesting chap. He's probably in his mid-50s, but he's probably fitter than everyone else there and is certainly capable of running as fast, if not faster, than everyone else there. He clearly loves running, and sometimes comes to a club run after he's done a much longer run on his own.
It's not the running that keeps him coming to the club though, it's the social interaction: he will talk to anyone; he will run with anyone.... at whatever pace they're running. He's especially encouraging of slower runners who are pushing themselves towards a target, giving them a bit of impetus to keep building up their mileage by running alongside them. In his spare time, he volunteers at local events and brings lot of the free samples he picks up with him to running club. I was running with him the other week when he asked me if I liked Worcester Sauce. Um, yes. Why? Well, because he had some samples with him and wanted to give them to me. Er. Perhaps later? Honestly, he tried to palm a couple of sachets of Worcester Sauce on me in the middle of a run.
He decided he wanted to run with me today. As always, I turned up for the Monday run not quite feeling it. I generally run there from home - just under a mile - and usually feel tired and not especially up for a run. I usually push through this, of course, but that doesn't mean that I want to run like the hounds of hell are behind me. Running with Roy, of course, because he seems to be more machine than man, means that even when he's running with you, he's actually running a step or two in front of you and you find your overall pace lifted. I ran 6.5 miles this evening at an average pace of 7.53 minutes per mile. Pretty quick for me (especially given a slow first mile to the starting line).
The pace was only the half of it though. It turns out that Roy is a huge fan of Game of Thrones. He's not read the books, but he's been loving the tv show, and tonight is the finale to season 4 and he was keen to talk about it. We were running pretty hard, so I wasn't really holding my end up with more than the odd word here and there, but to be honest, Roy was mostly interested in talking. The problem is that he cannot remember the names of any of the characters; literally the only person whose name he can remember is the Hound. We were running together for 40 minutes or so, and he barely let up, only pausing in his monologue as he groped for someone's name. My entire contribution to the conversation went something like:
"Tywin. Harrenhal. Arya. Sansa. Bran. Littlefinger. The Viper. Jamie. Roose Bolton. Who? Oh, you mean Gendry? Last seen being put in a boat by Ser Davos. Yeah. He's the guy missing the ends of his fingers.... Stannis. The Mountain....." And so on.
Honestly. You try running at that pace and trying to remember the names of every bloody character in Westeros.
Talk about a holistic workout. I'm knackered.
In addition, tonight's run was stamp number 47 on my running club card. The aim is to get to 50 inside 52 weeks to get a loyalty award. Last year, I got a Garmin GPS watch. This year the carrot on offer is £100 towards a pair of trainers. I should hit the magic number in the run on the day I get back from Glastonbury. I've been injured quite a lot over the last year, and I don't really need the £100 voucher, so I'm quite proud to have hit the magic number. Stupid and stubborn, but proud all the same.
But, y'know.... I never said my compulsion was rational, did I?
Valar morghulis. All men must die.