Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man – Nietzsche
I completed my last Long Slow Run before the Olympic Park Half today. 19 kilometres in nearly freezing temperatures, to the Olympic Park and back. I remember the days when just running to Stratford and getting a bus home was a major ordeal. It was a little bit faster than my last LSR, and faster than my equivalent length runs last year (before I really grasped the principle of making your LSRs slow as in “feels slow to me” and not just “slow in comparison with everyone else like all your running is”). If I had carried on for another 2.1km it would have been my second fastest half marathon.
And all this is giving me very dangerous thoughts because of course I am daring to dream. For quite a while, I have been at peace with the fact that I will never beat my half marathon PB (2:35:38, Brighton Half, Feb 2016). It was set on legs that had never been broken, with a good chunk of good weather and freakish luck and a course that was later revealed to be 140 metres short. The closest I have ever got to beating it is 2:56 in Barcelona. Which isn’t very close at all. But now I am the fittest I have been since my leg broke and getting the kind of times in training that I did back then (and much faster over 5k, although that might just be because I didn’t really bother with 5ks back then.) My Garmin has turned purple and says that I am in peak condition. It’ll be a cold day, in my favourite place to run, surrounded by friends. If I can’t beat it then, I don’t think I ever will. (Although I do have a second chance six weeks later at London Landmarks). In short, I have a dangerous case of hope. It could prove my undoing.
I have set myself a somehow unrealistic goal of finishing the Olympic Park Half in 2:30, and because one should always set multiple goals, I have also set the more achievable secondary goals of 2:45 and 2:55, both of which would be my second fastest half ever.
This is, of course, the point where the Maranoia sets in. Because whenever something in my life is going well and I start thinking to myself “I’ve got this one in the bag”, boom, the bag falls apart, my hopes and dreams fall on to the floor and I slip in the wreckage and break a bone. It’s the League One Play Off Final of 2014 over and over again. (Leyton Orient, two nil up at half time. Our former striker puts two past us in the second half and we lose on penalties. Widespread devastation). It’s time to start checking the weather forecast five times a day (you never know when there might be a rogue February heatwave), bathing in disinfectant and using wheelchairs ramps in preference to stairs at all times. You can’t be too careful.