It’s been a hard weekend. On Saturday I heard the very sad news that my friend Flash had died. I “met” her on the Livejournal group The Ladies Loos about fifteen years ago and she was very kind to me when all that bollocks happened with that horrible ex I mention from time to time. Even though Flash was disabled and couldn’t run herself (“I can’t even push my wheelchair very fast” she said), she was very supportive of my running and encouraged me to befriend her keen runner husband Mike, who will be very well known to many of you, and to invite myself down to a Viewtube Runners session, and well, the rest is history. It’s thanks to Flash that I met most the great people I met through running, and I am so sad that such a kind hearted, insightful, funny person is no longer here with us.
In a way everything else of pales into significance against news like that, in another way it is harder to deal with the smaller bad things when one big bad thing has already taken it out of you. I heard about the awful death of a former acquaintance – he had schizophrenia and withdrew from just about everyone, and when he died his body wasn’t discovered for six weeks, with one of his cats dead alongside him. Work was shit. The weather was terrible. Everything was cancelled. Everyone was on about Caroline Flack. And of course I had a shit parkrun at Valentines and my stupid leg hurt. I don’t want to make it sound like my shit parkrun is the most important thing in this post but this is a running blog after all so this is what I shall talk about.
So when is your slowest run at a parkrun also your PB? Well, if you manage to get lost and run an extra half kilometre the first time you visit a parkrun, you are pretty much guaranteed a PB when you come back. However, even without the ten percent extra free, I actually only managed to take just over a minute off my time from just over two years ago, and was two minutes slower than when I ran an near-identical course on a hotter day with a stinking cold five months ago. Even though my ankle wasn’t excruciatingly painful, it felt uncooperative, a dead weight, an unwilling spectator clinging to the bottom of my leg. For the entire thirty-six minutes and forty-eight seconds I felt like I was running uphill, into the wind, with a weight on my back. I felt like a beginner. I was glad when it was over but I was also in a right sulk and went straight off to work without even posing for a photo. I was convinced I’d taken so long to finish that I would actually be late for work, but fortunately this didn’t happen.
I have been doing some thinking about the Surrey Half and decided that if I was going to give it a shot I had better at least try to pull off some LSRs in training. I decided that I needed to be able to run for at least two hours this week or else I would pull out. To mitigate the possibility of my ending up marooned with an injured leg somewhere on Hackney Marshes I decided to take myself to the running track. As well as being a kinder surface, it meant that I could stop whenever I wanted to. I also snuck my swimming costume into my bag, just in case. Running on the track can be excruciatingly boring but it also has the advantage you don’t have to carry anything or think about where you are going and that you have a tap, toilet, cafe, sauna etc etc all right on hand. I plodded diligently round and round the track. After one hour and nearly twenty laps I was starting to lose the will to live a bit and I noticed my pace was getting slower and slower and closer to what I consider to be “this isn’t even fucking running it’s just walking strangely” pace. My ankle was once more a unwilling participant. Then I had the bright idea of turning on the run/walk timer on my watch. When it comes to speed, I’m not a fan of Jeffing, because I think to be good at it you need to have a big walk and a powerful sprint, and I have neither. To blag my way round a few extra kilometres, however, it works perfectly. I did a 2 mins/30 seconds ratio, and I found the walk breaks were just enough to fend off any incoming cramps and aches. My overall pace only dropped by 10 seconds per kilometre, and after that it didn’t get any slower. The second hour seemed much easier than the first. Nonetheless I was overjoyed to see the magical two hour mark reached after 38.75 laps. I guess Surrey Half is ON, though I may not bother running at all between now and then.