A new P.W.;a benchmark for the future; and a lesson learned

I know I can still run a good Half

I had a plan – laced with uncertainties – going into the run, and it looked like this:-

“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 was 23 secs faster than my pace at 3 miles; and at 12 miles I was 18 seconds faster. I have written before that there is a real satisfaction in aiming to hit a target time (rather than beating it) and I am proud of my ability to understand my body and manage my pace to do that.

At 12 miles I was tiring but still felt strong, so allowed myself to forget the pace and run at pretty-much threshold-pace for the last 1.1, and the watch tells me I did that last stretch at 7:45 pace (and I swear I saw 7:04 when I glanced down in the run-in to the big yellow clock). Not bad, to be able to speed up after 12 miles.

I finished in 1:52:31, which is a new a personal-worst. But considering the circumstances of the past year, six months, that is a very good run. That 8:30 average pace for the bulk of the run had been fairly comfortable… but I needed the slower start, and did not have much spare.

So I now know my new benchmark pace for a Half-Marathon: 1:52:31


I know I haven’t given up on a full Marathon, just yet

I said before the race that this may be my most imprtant to date. I didn’t know how I would be, in my body or my spirit; and I didn’t know where it would leave me afterwards. In the event I was delighted with the run, with how I ran. I have written before that times are always relative, and can not be the only measure of whether a run is a success, of the true value we take from running. So this is a new slow time for me: but the important thing is that I ran, and I ran well. And I will run again; because I can.

At the split near the 11-mile point, I watched the few full-marathon people turn off left and remembered how I had felt making that split at my two 26.2s at Robin Hood.

I know also that I was tiring at that point there is no way I could have turned left this year: but I had not trained for the full marathon so I could not expect anything different. I don’t know whether I will be allowed to run a full marathon again; and I am no wiser as to whether my troublesome calf would be able to complete the training and the run. But it hasn’t gone away; I haven’t let it go. Not yet.

And I know I enjoyed it

You can get so wound up in your pace and your goals for the event that you can forget to enjoy it. This was a lovely day, the new course was good (though personally I missed the hills and Wollaton Park), and after last year’s absence even my uncertainties could not take away from the simple fact that here I was running Robin Hood.

And this year in particular I had the added pleasure of meeting up afterwards with some running Twitter people – every one of them charming and even more delightful in real-life than 140 characters can show. We all had our own stories, our own times, our own trials: but more fundamentally, we had the shared experience of having run together. Also the shared genuine sympathy and understanding for someoneone who couldn’t run with us.  Which was fitting, given that we could barely make up a whole fully-functioning body between half-a-dozen of us …  

I know also it was worth pushing my fundraising: a week after nd with a little still to come, I might just break £1,000 which I am delighted with, given my late decision to go for it. Thank you all.

I know also that this weekend here I was back in the woods running without a particular course or time or target. Just running, with that special liberty and pleasure you have just after completing an event which has been on your horizon for many months.

Just running.

Just running. That is important. In fact, I started writing T-A-R-S because I had discovered that it is not all about best-times and speed; that by moderating your goals and pace, it was possible to extend your running and enjoy it more. I had realised that it was important to respect and protect my body by not driving it unreasonably hard, and that by doing so it would pay me back in multiples. That, exactly, is what I have learned this year, this race. Once again, I am in awe and debt to the way in which my body has adapted to teh most serious of challenges. Maybe only now, have I understood the wisdom of my own words.

One final thought

Hypothetically, 1:52:31 might mean that a sub-4 is possible. Just hypothetically, you understand. Just so I know where I am.


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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