Photo stolen from Olga Wiggin’s Strava account
So Thursday (May 11th) I made a return to racing just under five weeks after the Brighton marathon, having spent my time following the recovery programme in the Advanced marathon book, pretty much to the T. Which is the first time I have done that to be honest. The mileage was never an issue, its doing faster runs that have been my achilles heel. Too happy to run at a comfortable pace, but this year will be different…..I hope.
Anyway, I arrived at the race late…..as per usual….with just enough time to find a toilet, pick my number up and make it to the start. Terrible preparation but there you go. I had the ambitious plan to run the race in even 5:50 split, something which I think I could do, but it turned out I couldn’t do on this occasion. My second aim, was to go under 30 minutes, I didn’t do that either and my third aim was to be within the top 10 harriers….that I did do.
For a flat five mile race, this turned out to be tougher than I imagined. The warm sea breeze causing problems for many runners, myself included. As within the first mile of the race, a mile I ran in 5:38 for some foolish reason, my mouth was bone dry and I could really have done with a sip of water. Which is probably the earliest in the race that I ever felt the need for a drink.
The second and third miles saw the runners being hit by cross winds and side winds, admittedly not the strongest winds I’ve ever faced, but enough of a wind to be nuisance and play havoc with your pacing and I completed these miles in 6:07 and 6:15 pace. Seeing 6:15 flash up, in a race were I was trying to run each mile under 6 minute pace was certainly frustrating and slightly disheartening.
But I didn’t let it effect me and helped by the fact that the wind stopped being an issue over the final two miles I started picking up the pace. I actually felt alright at this point in the race and I was catching and passing other runners. Part of me felt that I could push things even more, but another part of me wasn’t confident I could hold a much higher pace all the way to this finish. Completing mile 4 in 6:01 pace.
Over the final mile my legs still felt fine, what wasn’t feeling fine was my stomach, as I started to feel a slight cramp coming on, it wasn’t pleasant and thoughts of stopping popped into my head. But if marathoning has taught me anything, its to run through the pain and there was less than a mile to go…..so that’s just what I did.
So I gave it what I could, I didn’t slow down, I got faster, completing the final mile in 5:56 and even reaching 5:30 pace on the home straight. Giving me a finishing time of 30:06 and 24th place out of 413 entrants, beating my five mile PB by 1 minute 24. So a mixed bag but a good return to racing.
Why keep going……
I recently read a blog of a fellow runner, who is good runner and a good blogger. They were talking about how from now on running was going to take a back seat. Which is a shame in many ways, but at the same time being the best runner you can be takes a lot of time and commitment and it isn’t for everyone, so I don’t have a problem with that. For me personally, its a thought that’s also crossed my mind many many times, I love running but it is a big commitment to do the training required to hit the times I can now run and sometimes I also do question what is the point. There are more important things in life after all, things that your sacrificing for running. When I started running, my dream was simply to full fill my ambition of running the London marathon and Great North run, two things I achieved years ago but I still keep going, why is that ?
I spent most the first year of my running hobby……running just once a week, eventually I was running 4 times a week. Yet I still couldn’t imagine ever running every day like I do now, let alone twice a day which is plan for this summer. But then, at the same time, I didn’t think I’d ever get as fast as I have, so the targets kept changing and evolving. From running the London marathon, to running a sub4 marathon, a sub3:30 marathon, qualify for Boston….now im a sub3 marathon, crackers, just crazy.
If I had stayed a once a week runner, I would never had achieved these things, which in the grand scheme of things are meaningless achievements, but personally they are great achievements and experiences that I am glad that I have had. Running a sub3 marathon and getting run in Boston are two very special things that haven’t changed my life in any way, but have enriched it in a way and they are life long memories that I will treasure. I have joined the Preston Harriers, a club I dreamed of joining as a youngster, I’m proud to wear the vest and I’ve met some great people along the way, who I would never have ever met.
This brings me to one of the comments under the blog post in question and the whole reason why I have given this some thought. Where someone had written, that they felt sorry for runners for chase PBs. A very strange comment, why feel sorry for someone wanting to improve, to be as good as they can be. Did anyone feel sorry that Kipchoge had to work extremely hard to break new ground in the world of running as he tried to run a marathon in under 2 hours. On the anniversary of Roger Bannisters sub4 minute mile……I doubt it. They may have felt sorry that he missed out on it, but they wouldn’t of felt sorry for the training he did. Granted amateur runners aren’t going to break 2 hours for the marathon. But to feel sorry for them for trying to be the best they can be, is just wrong and ridiculous.
Are they enjoying running any less than someone who only runs casually, as I used to, no not at all, I enjoy running every day as much as I enjoyed running once a week. Are faster runners enjoying racing more than those that go around in 9 minute miles, no not at all. Running a marathon 4:13 felt to me as good as running one in 2:55, admittedly for different reasons but both are great achievements. I could have stopped there and been happy to have a run a marathon, it isn’t something anyone can do. But I didn’t, I got faster and I am proud of the times I’ve run and the hard work it took to get those times.
In each case, slower runners, I was once one and fast runners. Are people who are achieving something. They are doing something that they enjoy, something that is good for the mind and the body. Whilst one is putting a lot time and effort into their hobby, they are enjoying doing just that. Just as much as the casual runner enjoys not having to go running all the time, simply enjoying the odd run. I have been there, I have experienced both worlds running. Both are commendable and enjoyable.
All runners are runners, however you choice to do it, enjoy it. Take it serious, push yourself as hard as you can, achieve everything you can, take it casual, take it easy, take it slow. Set a PB based on a time, run a new distance or perhaps try new form of running, road / cross country, fells, track, there’s lots to chose between. But don’t feel sorry for someone because they are different kind of runner to you, that they are putting in more or less time than you, respect them, you’ve a shared interested, a shared understanding of what it takes to get out and run. Running is a community of all sorts, embrace that.
One day you will stop running all together and if you look back with no regrets that’s all that matters.
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