T’was the night before race day…

Updated, just a few hours after posting. Somthing stuck me, which I failed to say. Last year I wasn’t at Robin Hood, due to injury; this year, whatever contraints, I am. And I will run. That, that is the real point. Tomorrow, I will run Robin Hood: I know that now.


Tomorrow will be my 38th half-marathon.

It will also be the 20th year since my first Robin Hood; comprising two full-marathons, fifteen Halfs, and just two years missed to injury.

You would think I might know what I’m doing by now, but I really can’t get my head around tomorrow. I have adapted my running to my health problem earlier in the year and the medication, but I don’t know how I will feel on the day. I am also slightly disorientated  by the change of course: last year was one of my injury-fails, so this new clockwise flat route has taken away the familiar certainty of previous years.

Ordinarily, the night before a race, I would look at my logs and tot up all the runs in the last six weeks, note how many endurance sessions I have done, take stock of my aches and pains, set all of that against the course and the weather forecast, and fudge it all into a plan: a pace, split-times and a target-time (with an if-it-all-goes-well best-expectation). I’ve done that, yet I have no answer.

I have a plan. It goes

(3 x 9:00) + (9 x 8:30) = 12 miles 1:43:30 and then see what happens …..

maybe 1:52:ish?

I just dont know

I ran the hills of the Leeds Half this May in flat 8:15s to 12 – at which point I was less than a minute out – and then let rip, and was ecstatic to have paced it so well but still have a big kick right at the end.

A lot has happened since then, and I have been on the floor but fought back; and now I can (usually) cruise along quite well. The only problem is, I don’t really understand what my true cruising pace now is.

Nor do I know where my heart spirit is at. Should I see how I feel, sod the watch and just go with it? Or should I prove to my consultant that I can practice tight (new, slower) pace-discipline and hit the time: not beat it but hit it. If I do that, and I’m bang-on at 12, do I nail it for the last stretch, or can I let myself go again? Can I let my body run again? I just don’t know.

But I do know…

I do know that I’m about to go and lay out my kit. I know I’ll faff around getting the race-number positioned just-right on my vest. I know that I’ll get my bag ready with its runner-number tag for the baggage tent, and prepare my drinks. I know that I’ll set the alarm for stupid-o’clock. I know I’ll wake before it goes off. In know I’ll drive early down an eerily-empty M1, my run-mix playing loud. I know I’ll zoom along till I hit the queue on the ringroad between Queen’s and Clifton bridge, and that I’ll be anxious about parking in time. I know I’ll park and buy a cup of tea and pee and change into my race gear and pee again. I know I’ll panic about the baggage-tent queue. I know I’ll go off to warm up in jogs and strides and stretches (and pee some more) along the Trent far away from the crowds and noise, quiet by the river and the gold-turning trees and the rowers.  I know I’ll relish the electricity of this spell of quiet by myself. I know I’ll jog back and take my place in the block of runners at the last moment.

I don’t know what will happen after that.

But I do know that this is one of my very-special days of the year; and I love it.

My 38th Half-Marathon. In a way it’s also the first of a new phase; and it may just be my most important.

I also know that there are maybe 10,000 or so runners around the country (some in Nottingham as I write, some planning their travel) feeling like me in one way or another. Just as there are the night before every race. It’s just one part of what non-runners never see. But we do, we runners: we know… and in secret we love the way we don’t know what tomorrow will be like.

Have a good one, everyone. It’s Robin Hood day!

17 years... And counting

17 years… And counting


About johntleeds

In amongst the perpetual juggling of work, family and things on my mind, this is MY time, MY escape. Any this is what my mind comes up with when it has time to wonder, as I wander on the trails... twitter @johntleeds
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