The Chase is on!

The Leeds Abbey Dash is a fast 10K road race.  It’s not 100% flat but I guess a combination of the time of year and the fact that it’s a pretty straight out-and-back route means that it would be what is described as a “PB Course”.

This year since I am not what I would describe as “fully fit”, I didn’t have high hopes of beating any personal records this year.  However, I take 50 minutes as a kind of 10K benchmark and if I can get under that, I  think I am not doing too badly.   Therefore this was my goal for today.

In the starting pen I noticed the 50 minute pacer nearby.  He was wearing one of those big flags on his back so you can easily see the big number 50; how anyone can run at that sort of pace with that thing on their back escapes me but I have respect for all of the pacers in these big events.  I made sure I started at the same time as the pacer and my watch had also been programmed with the 8 minute-per-mile pace so I should know at all times how I was doing.

Before I wrote the blog today, I looked back at what I posted this time last year.  I commented that I found it difficult to get the pace on the way out but stormed through on the way back to get a good time.  It’s interesting because that pattern repeated itself today.  I managed to just keep up with the pacer for about 2 1/2 miles but then he started to pull away.  I noticed on my watch also that I wasn’t going fast enough.

When we turned the corner I noticed that that pacer was ahead but not completely out of reach.  I started to think that since I am quite good at the sprint finish I might be able to take him at the end and this kept me motivated.   Over time I found that I was gaining on him and it started to go through my mind that I actually might be able to catch him.  This motivated me more and with about 1/2 a mile to go I was able to overtake the 50 minute man!  It was then just a matter of trying to keep going for those last few hundred metres and since I had been working quite hard in the last half of the race, it wasn’t easy.  I managed to cross the line with just 20 seconds to spare.

So, now I am back to some kind of fitness I hope that I can get a chance to build on it.  After doing so well this time last year I set some ambitious goals for this year but for many reasons things didn’t go to plan.  I have therefore decided to carry on setting goals but try and be philosophical if things don’t go to plan and thankful for what I am able to do.

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.

Psalm 18:37 NIV (UK)


Here there be dragons!

A marathon might well be thought of as an advesary or beast which must be tamed or slain.  I had three attempts before I got my coveted sub 4 PB and before I acheived this I considered that I had “unfinished business” with the distance.  The Lord alone knows why I decided I wanted to tackle the beast again because It is wiley and has all sorts of cunning tricks up it’s sleeve.  Above all it is a foe which needs to be taken seriously; it doesn’t take prisoners!

When I entered the Yorkshire Marathon, I did so because I was confident that I had plenty of time to train up to get a PB time.  I think the reason that I entered in the first place was because my London Marathon time last year didn’t live up to expectations.  Of course, yet again all sorts of challenges disrupted my training program and I was, through optimistic lenses, almost just prepared.

So the carefully worked out plan involved a walking stint every 5 miles or so, with an aim to average 10 minute miles.  How hard could it be?  I had peaked my training in this vein up to 17 miles AND this was three weeks ago followed by a sensible taper.

The first half of the race was lovely, the pace felt quite easy and I felt I could run all day like that. I even forced myself to do the walk breaks to save something up for the rest of the race.  The problem were my legs; they had other ideas and decided that to “work to rule”.

It’s an interesting and yet frustrating quandary when your fitness wants to drive on hard but your limbs don’t want to carry on and are in pain.  I won’t give a blow by blow account but from about 16 miles onward I got slower and slower until the last two miles were not much faster than a brisk walk.

I’m not going to beat myself up though because 4:38 isn’t a bad Marathon time especially without a full training program.  As far as slaying the Marathon dragon, I think I’ll leave it to terrorise some other poor soul.   The prospect of settling down to do “ordinary” running again appeals, parkrun, 10Ks, trail races with an occasional half marathon.  I remember asking a friend after the race today “why did we just do that?”, to which there isn’t an obvious answer.

“The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

It’s About Time

I read today that the reason it’s almost impossible to swat a fly is that they perceive time very differently than we do. One of our seconds seems to last 4 to a fly, so our world seems to them to be in slow motion. That would be a really useful skill and I wonder if this is how some of my friends manage a long run at a pace at which I would consider a good sprint.

Time is a funny old thing and does seem to pass at different rates depending on circumstances; I’m sat on a train to London at the moment and simply blogging will mean that the journey will seem to be over very quickly. When I entered the Yorkshire Marathon last year I was sure I would have plenty of time to train really well and prepare myself to, as the expression goes, “absolutely smash it” and beat my Marathon PB. However, as I have well documented, this year has been a real struggle to get fit and then sustain it long enough to train. I had resigned myself to the fact that there was no way to get “Marathon fit” in the time left, so I decided not to even try. My physiotherapist’s favourite expression is “Less is more” and so I trained “sensibly”, not trying to ramp up my mileage too soon and building in plenty of rest time in the week. If you are a runner you will know the sort of thing I’m talking about.

A few days ago I had convinced myself that there was just two weeks to go before the Marathon. I figured that since it wasn’t going to be a personal record performance anyway, that I would break all the rules and do a last long run to try and eek-out a few last drops of stamina from my training.

Well as I have explained previously, time is a relative thing but in this case I had simply got it wrong and the main event is not 2 weeks away but 3. “So what?” you may ask but here’s the ting: doing a last long run 3 weeks away from a Marathon isn’t that stupid (in the way that doing it 2 weeks away IS) because that time does give your body a chance to recover and “bank” that last training run. So it suddenly dawned on me that actually, I wasn’t really in a bad place at all with regards this Marathon after all. By letting go on the unrealistic and given up on what I thought was a good plan, I had sleepwalked into executing what is probably a very sensible Marathon training plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to achieve a PB on this occasion. My goal is to get round in under 10 minute miles and if I achieve that I’ll be over the moon. The lesson I shall take away is that this “less is more” philosophy really works and that I’m not stupid for paying for a good physio.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬