[Updated 14-May… but you’ll have to read down to find out…]
This is effectively a post-script to last night’s eve-of-race musings: but I can at least now include the totals for this week (if I had included today’s 13.1 in last night’s totals I would inevitably have been injured and failed to finish, obviously).
My theme, if you recall, was that my body is amazing: evidenced by its recovery from injury to bring me to the start-line of today’s Leeds Half Marathon, and also by assorted other feats of adaptation and response to new challenges.
Well, today I have to say: even more so. My focus was on this not as a race but as a staging point to my Robin Hood Marathon in September; also I did not want to jeopardise damaging my vulnerable calf – so I set myself the goal of managing my pace at an average of 8mins 15secs per mile which would give a finish of 1:48:00.
I had expected to have to adjust at times as the first half of the course is very hilly; in the event I made it more complicated by taking a short stop to adjust both my bladder and left shoelaces, and then missing the 3-mile split marker… both of which left me unsure of where I was exactly. Despite that,
- At the 9-mile marker I was only 9 seconds over my target-time for that point
- At 12 miles I was slightly ahead, but at that point my overall average pace was 08:11/mile
- By which point, I had hardly been working hard at all… so I let myself run, and a finish of 1:46:10 meant that I completed the last 1.1m at a 7:20 pace.
Here’s the thing: I am almost 52, and have a bit of wear-&-tear. So to run a 7:20 mile is pretty good, I’d say – even more so given that the start was the 12-mile marker.
Here’s another thing: it’s immensely satisfying to be able to manage my pace like that. In fact I would say it is as satisfying as beating a target-time, or a new PB. It means I can protect my body instead of running to burn-out, and it also takes discipline; but more than that, there is a certain beauty in being able to feel the difference between an 8:00-minute and an 8:30-mile.
Over 12 miles my average-pace-per-mile was just 4 seconds below my goal: I think I was allowed to let myself play after that.
These are important lessons, and leave me feeling very positive about my ability to manage the more serious end of a full-marathon training-programme.
More medals, but not for running
And there was another success from this run, for one of my charities b-eat, Beating Eating Disorders (see here for why I chose this). They had offered to send me a vest so I decided to feature them this time round. In conversation, someone I had been concerned about recognised that they had a problem with bingeing and then over-exercising as a compensation; and when I commented on that, someone else said they had also had issues.
Updated: and two days later a third person responded to a tweet of mine that they had struggled with these problems for many years.
In itself this is really encouraging, because if people can talk about it then they are already well on the way to dealing with it. And it makes me feel really good, if I have played a tiny part in that.
But. But. So far as I could see, amongst all of the mainstream and local charities, there was no-one else highlighting b-eat or EDs. No-one really knows, but there may be around 2 million people with ED problems in the UK: or, about one-in-thirty. But just me among up to 6,000 runners, plus families and other spectators? Now, this is completely unscientific: my numbers are guesses, there probably were others I didn’t see, one event does not have to exactly match the population, b-eat will pick events where they can manage a big presence, etc etc…
Even so, it rather confirms two fears which made me pick b-eat at the outset:-
- As a charity, they struggle for share-of-voice and support compared to the big institutions, and
- Nobody talks about ED, it’s an awkward subject, and not fashionable, not PR-worthy; and for those with problems, this becomes self-fulfilling and reinforces the cycle of harm (affecting not just the individuals, but wider families, friends).
I don’t know whether they will read this, but I’d like to thank those two, no three people for speaking up: their courage means a lot to me and has reinforced my determination to use my marathon to generate awareness (and funds if I can). Rest assured that I, for one, do not feel awkward about it and intend now to speak up even more!
By the way, I think what I have written above applies equally to Grief Encounter, too.
So: that was my 37th Half Marathon, and will go down as a really good one.
Week 16 Index
Runs 4; Total 34.5; Long 15.5; Other 1
Week 17 Index
Runs 4; Total 24.0; Long 13.1; Other 1