‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream’
Ancient Dinka proverb.
That’s a coffee ice cream in the picture. I ate it on the run, when I’d severely miscalculated how long it would take me to get to my free sports massage at my current happy place, the North London School of Massage and hadn’t left enough time to have the coffee and bagel I promised myself in Dalston. It was a sanity-saver and no mistake, as after 14 miles on a measly bowl of Crunchy Nut I was beginning to feel wobbly.
Lapping up my overpriced cornet (this was bought from a posh gelateria – I expect it calls itself artisan, although I was too faint with hunger to check – in Stoke Newington) and continuing on my way I pondered all the times ice cream has cheered, sustained, energised and generally made life look better. And then I remembered what a useless vegan I am.
If there’s one thing that keeps me out of Vegan Runners it’s my weakness for ice cream. That’s quite childish, isn’t it? Most failed vegans bang on about missing cheese, then talk themselves into very rare goat’s varieties or obscure types like Cornish Yarg, because the milk that goes to make them (we all persuade ourselves) is freely given with pleasure by cheerful beasts with pretty names.
For me, it’s the ice cream. I love it, and though I stick with Swedish Glace and Alpro dairy-free varieties at home, my resolve collapses like a 99 cornet left out in the sun at the prospect of a lovely overpriced Loseley tub at the theatre, or a gorgeous, melting New Forest cone at the beach hut.
On one 20-miler, during which I’d arranged to take a lunch break at a friend’s house and she, on some kind of diet (yeah, not a runner) fed me pea soup and NO bread, I had to make an emergency refuel at McDonalds…
…then found I only had a pound coin on me. I bought a very synthetic ice-cream cornet for 79p and enjoyed it immensely.
When I worked for a year in Sudan, I used to go to the market and take refreshment at the ‘Scream’ stall. That’s what the chaps who manned the blenders called their concoction, a whizz-up of whatever fruit was to hand (often bananas), ice and dried milk. Great drums of dried milk and energy biscuits were often delivered to our village as part of foreign aid packages …they found their way onto the sparsely stocked market stalls, but the Scream merchants made great use of the freeze-dried white stuff. The resultant frothy, fruity, ice-cold blender goblet of goodness would have been a massive boon if I’d been a runner in Sudan. As it was, I moved pretty slowly in those days, on a big clunky bicycle or in my big clunky Birkenstocks. I was too weakened by heat and ever-present dysentery to do much else.
These days my ice-cream habit make me feel guilty, especially when, like last week, I find myself in the company of an ice-cream refusenik, whose body is a temple. This woman, one of the better athletes in my running club, has been off sugar for a month and looks radiant. She runs fast (eats cheese) and lifts weights. She’s often first woman in my local parkrun and, yes, I am quite jealous of her.
I’m thinking about forgoing sugar in the weeks up to the Berlin Marathon (24 September), when a sentence in Runner’s World speaks to me.
‘Aim to eat healthily 90% of the time it says….whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats…The other 10% of the time? Enjoy your favourite treats.’
So an ice-cream Sundays, after The Long Run? That might just work. Apart from feeling guilty about the cows.
Oh, and no more Crunchy Nut. There’s no way I can justify that addiction.