Before I get started writing about the race, I want to answer the Big Question, which is: should a vegan be entering a race sponsored by Cancer Research, who fund animal testing? I’ve thought long and hard about this, and as you can see, I did enter. I see it the same as taking part in a parkrun sponsored by Happy Eggs: they are the sponsor, I am not giving them my money or raising money for them. When I pick a charity to run for, I pick one of the many who don’t fund animal testing. That is pretty simple. No dilemma there. I do get more conflicted, though, when a friend starts raising money for a charity that funds animal research, though. My friend, who lost her mother to cancer, is raising money for Cancer Research by running a marathon, and yes, I did sponsor her. I’m not sure I did the right thing but my reasoning is:
a) Cancer Research are doing a vital thing which will ultimately save lives. They aren’t just killing animals for fun or because they like the taste.
b) It’s not like vivisection is the ONLY thing they do. I give my money to supermarkets who also sell meat, it doesn’t mean I am condoning the fact they sell meat.
c) I genuinely don’t know what their alternatives are and whether stopping animal testing would hinder their research. There certainly aren’t the obvious alternatives like there are to eating animal products. You can’t test drugs on an avocado.
d) I feel that the way to encourage Cancer Research to stop using vivisection is not to boycott them and deprive them of funds for all the good things that they do but to encourage them to find alternative methods.
Of course, I would prefer it if everyone just raised money for other charities instead and then there wouldn’t be any conflict!
But on with the race…
After ten days of doing absolutely no exercise and lying in bed feeling like death I felt like I’d forgotten how to run. I was also quite concerned that even gentle activity had been leaving me feeling really dizzy and that I was going to over exert myself and end up fainting and face planting the ground Gemma Collins style and getting trampled to death by a herd of runners, penguins and polar bears. It was my fourth time doing this race and I already know it’s not the world’s fastest course due to congestion so I had already planned not to race it but the germs meant that I would be going even slower.
There was a bit of chaos at the start due to the fact they had been fucking around with the waves – initially they had some ridiculous pyramid scheme going with the slower runners starting first, but then realised this would end in disaster. The result was that no one’s bib had the right wave on it and everyone just started at the time they found most convenient. There was also a massive queue for the bag drop which made me wish I hadn’t bothered because the shitty little bag they give you was only big enough for one sleeve of my winter coat anyway. And it was minus two. More due to luck than judgement, I started at 10:30 with a bunch of people who seemed to be running at exactly the right pace for my current state of health, so I just stayed in the bunch and let them carry me along.
Much to my happiness, I didn’t feel faint or pass out and the distance did not feel too bad, although I did feel I was putting in more effort to move at a not particularly fast pace than I normally would. My Garmin corroborated this by helpfully telling me that my “performance condition” was a woeful Minus 4. This did not make me feel better. I did my best to ignore it and just kept plodding along, through rock choirs, dancing penguins and singing huskies as is customary for this race. Apparently Rosie (starting late due to engineering works) overtook me somewhere on Holborn Viaduct but neither of us saw each other.
When I got to the 9km marker I realised I had lots of energy left and that my legs weren’t tired at all so I sped up and my last kilometre was my fastest. My finish time was 1:17:38. And my VO2 max, which wasn’t very impressive to start with, went down one! This was a bit disappointing because training has gone really well lately and I think that if I hadn’t been ill I could have got a really decent time (perhaps a course PB) but it is better to play safe and get a shit time than end up with a DNF or a trip to hospital.
As soon as I stopped running the cold air hit my lungs and I had a massive coughing fit and for a moment thought I was going to have to dramatically drop to the floor because I really couldn’t breathe and was seeing stars, but it passed. Perhaps a reminder of what might have happened if I had tried to go faster. I think it does all bode well for the half marathon next week, so long as I can shift this cough. It’s just been announced that there will be pacers for every five minutes between 1:30 and 3:00… which should I try to follow??