The tone for my rest period after Lanzarote was set the night of the race when I found myself having a big fat-boy Mexican meal together with a few celebratory Coronas. This was followed by an enormous fried breakfast the next morning which included a chocolate doughnut. It’s amazing what you find on a continental European hotel breakfast buffet. There was even a fountain cascading liquid chocolate, but I have limits!
Other things to figure in my post-race period have been a big celebration dinner with my wife, a regular lie-in, chocolate and alcohol. That kind of lifestyle doesn’t lead naturally into an Autumn Half Marathon so I was as surprised as you that I ended up running one just two weeks later.
I had planned to run one in mid-November leaving plenty of time for a training refresher, but that went by the wayside due to a family commitment. By the time I looked at the local race listings, the only other race that was possible was the Salisbury Half Marathon, which by then was a week away.
I was resigned as I drove the twenty-five minutes to Salisbury yesterday. If my preparation for Lanzarote had been careful and methodical, then the lead up to the Salisbury Half had been chaotic. Just a couple of tempo runs to wake my sleeping body up and purge the chocolate doughnut and beer from my system and….well that’s it.
My plan was to take it easy and have an enjoyable run. That’s what people say when they haven’t prepared. It’s like an excuse in advance!
When the hooter went, I found myself quite near the front and was swept along in a brisk early pace. I promised I would wait for things to settle down and then I would ease off. I looked at my watch at the end of mile one – 7.45mins.
The Cautious Voice in my head insisted that wasn’t sustainable for 13 miles. Although the engine room was saying that all seemed comfortable, I promised the Voice I would ease off. I tried but at the end of mile two the dial was still at 7.45mins a mile.
We went round this loop for the first five miles. I went through the 5-mile marker in just under 40 mins. Now the Cautious Voice was getting flustered. Then the Reckless Voice, a voice I haven’t heard for a long time piped up. Here’s how the conversation went:
Cautious voice: Come on, slow it down a bit big guy. You can’t keep this up……..
Reckless voice: Why, what do you think is going happen?
Cautious: Well, we might blow up.
Reckless: Oooh scareeey. So what will happen when we blow up?
Cautious: Well, we’ll blow up and ….well….
Reckless: Well what? Will we die? Will our legs fall off? Will we get arrested or will we just simply have to jog the last few miles?
Cautious: OK, now you’re being ridiculous.
Reckless : No, you’re being ridiculous; telling us to slow down all the time. You are constantly trying to put a lid on things…just in case. The idea of a race is to RUN FASTER not slower. Man up, stretch these little legs, live a little……!
So it was settled. We were going to have a go! The lid was off and it was staying off.
I felt like I was sinning, I felt like Katie Perry: “I ran too fast and I liked it!”
Miles 6 – 11 all came and went at about 8 minutes a mile. Then that Reckless Voice again – now it had my full attention:
“I don’t think you are giving this all you can. Let’s try another gear for the last two miles.”
That door you here slamming – that’s the Cautious Voice storming out in disgust turning a deep shade of purple.
Up we went to 7.30mins a mile. I tried to protest “But I’ve been eating chocolate doughnuts”
“Shut up and run”.
So I did, all the way to the finish line which I crossed in 1:44:28hrs – an average of 7.58 minutes a mile. Where did that come from? The Cautious Voice has some explaining to do.
It was a race that I had planned to cruise round and enjoy and instead I had broken my personal best for a half marathon by 9 minutes. Who knew?
I am not sure if that is an advert for chocolate doughnuts, a lack of preparation or for listening to the “bad voice” in your head occasionally.