Okay, it happened.
I’m sure a lot of you out there are now holding out hands and expecting your bookies to pay up on what, frankly, wasn’t that much of an outsider.
Since my last post in February, things have been a bit useless on the running front. I have no excuses as to why. Yes, I spent probably the best part of two weeks during March locked away playing Mass Effect 3, but that is only two weeks out of the last ten or twelve.
I think during that time I’ve been to the gym a handful of times. The last time I can really have any recollection, I clocked up 8km in about 45 minutes. Which isn’t bad really, but then again it isn’t much better than how it was back around the New Year. It would be remiss of me to be so ignorant to say I’ve hit a performance wall and not realise why. Performance obviously improves with training, of which I have done next to none.
The “big race” is in two weeks as of today, and I haven’t been training in the past 9 days for one simple reason – a bloody cold (no, I’m not sneezing blood, I was just cursing). Yes, of all the times to get a cold, I end up with one smack bang in the month before my big test. I wrote a blog entry way back last year about having a cold, and how my research clearly told me to avoid running, otherwise face nastier consequences. So, I’ve followed my mother’s advice, “kept warm, had fluids and rested”. And rested. And rested. And now, after nine days of resting, I’m rather pissed off. There is still phlegm rattling around my chest. My nose still needs blowing. And I still need more time to shake it off.
Last week, Bupa sent through my pre-race pack. My number patch, or whatever running people call it, informs me I’m number B2937 in red. And, according to the race guide, that places me in the second wave to be released out of nine. They release the elites and pros, and I’m literally in the next wave after that. I feel like raising my hand and telling the race planner “Excuse me, you may remember I filled in my form to say I’d do this in 40 odd minutes, like everyone else with a red ‘B’ on their chests? Well, that may have been a tiny lie. Maybe you should give me a patch with a green ‘C’ on it, like those guys over there running as a camel.”
And yet, another part of me thinks that this is still do-able.
Realistically, I’m going to be running again come this Tuesday, which is the 15th. With or without this phlegm in the back of my throat. I’m now off work (well after tomorrow anyway) until we go down to London, which leaves me with…(counting on my fingers)…10 full days to make a dent in my training.
That just leaves the question as to what I can accomplish in 10 days? My brain, raised since the 1980’s on movies where the hero always manages to overcome any obstacle, means that I’m left with acute optimism. However, I’ve learnt one important lesson from my brief fling with running so far. Positive mental attitude isn’t everything that athletes make it out to be. Not unless you’ve already trained your body to peak physical perfection. Otherwise, like in my case, I slip on my trainers, switch on my running playlist, and for the next 10 minutes I feel like nothing can stop me…and then something inside me really wants to. Whether it’s the niggling early onset of a stitch, a weird twinge in a calf muscle, or just an elevated heartrate that seems unsustainable, eventually my body will fail on me.
Yes, I can slow down and maintain a comfortable, constant running pace. But, when I’m out there in London in two weeks’ time and I’m in the middle of a group of racers who believe (and probably can) run the race in about 40-45 minutes, that means they’ll be running at something like 12-15kph. My current comfort zone is closer to 10kph when I set myself up on a treadmill, and when I do what feels right on the road, I end up at 13kph and end up with one of the list of ailments above well before I hit 5km.
With 10 days to prepare, I’m both excited and utterly, utterly intimidated by this situation. And above all, pissed off with myself for giving up when the going was good. I hate to think where I would be now if I’d kept running properly for the last 5 months. Probably running 10km in 40mins I guess.
I guess the big question is this – can adrenaline and sheer determination save the day?