Just a short post here to report on a short race (which turned out to be even shorter still).
Over the last few months, since completing the 100 marathons, I realised that if I wanted to achieve my next goal – to get my marathon time down substantially – then I would need to do short, fast ‘speed’ work – something which up until this point I have avoided at all costs. I had become complacent running marathon times that were not pushing me to my full potential as the goal was quantity as opposed to quality. I would like to make it clear here that I think that there is room in the running world for everyone’s individual goals be they speed, numbers, countries, counties, medals or whatever else motivates them. We all share a common passion for running with different purposes and even within the individual this can and does change over time.
In a bid to get some of these quicker shorter runs in, I decided that looking for events was a good start as I am always going to push myself harder with company than when out running alone. At the beginning of the year I stumbled across a series of races which I had heard of but hadn’t run before called RunThrough Events – regular 5k, 10k and half marathons in and around the bigger London parks. The events are low key, well organised, and reasonably priced, are well attended and give free photos. I would recommend them to anyone living locally. Along with Pete Bowles (a good friend and another amazing runner – I did mention in a previous post how fortunate I was to know a number of these characters) mum and I have become regulars at their events.
So on Wednesday evening we headed off to Clapham Common for the ‘Chasing the Sun’ 10k. (It must be noted here that the added motivation to attend these events is a pub dinner/drink afterwards – or if the race is a Saturday or Sunday morning, that’s fine, we can do brunch with prosecco instead!).
Having run quite well in the heat at Endure 24 at the weekend (more about that in a later post), I had felt heavy and tired on a training run on Tuesday evening which I reluctantly aborted after clocking up a whole 1.75 miles (It’s just crazy to think a few weeks ago we were battling our way through a 56 mile race!). Nevertheless I turned up on Wednesday with a relatively positive attitude; I have realised over time that how you feel when running can vary so much from day to day and I was hoping that this would be the case today. But it wasn’t!
I went out with purpose and intent. It has to be said that due to my lack of speed work it takes me the first few miles of a race to warm up (especially if I hadn’t warmed up properly before the start) so I knew it would be tough going at first. I also know, however, that sometimes it’s just not on – and it wasn’t. Again about 1.75 miles in I pulled up and out. If I’m honest there was no one specific reason – yeah, my legs still felt a little bit sore but I suspect that could have been bearable. I just didn’t have the energy or the drive to continue. My second ever race DNF.
One thing I have started to do of late, and this blog has really helped with, is to try to piece together initial reflections and those in the following days in a bid to help me in future races. Instead of focusing on the negatives, what could I take from this race?
A few messages exchanged with a close friend at this point helped to bring peace and clarity to what had happened. I had given it a go, my body was still probably very much in need of recovery following Comrades and Endure 24. I expect too much from myself most the time and those two miles weren’t something to dwell on. I felt content, of course I wished I could have finished and finished well, but that is what we are programmed to do and where our drive so often comes from. I had made the right decision for me at the moment and I was ok with that. In a previous post about Comrades I talked about developing the ability to break a larger task down in to smaller pieces, but it is also important to be able to do the reverse and see the big picture and longer term race calendar.
Two other friends, Ally (and – you guessed it – another incredible runner) and Sam, who lived locally, had come over to meet us and we strolled across Clapham Common for a lovely impromptu dinner with the mandatory couple of bottles of wine.
‘I just want to be fast and fast all the time!’ I said. Mum and Pete laughed. ‘Don’t we all’, mum said. But we are only human after all.