I know we’ve been here before but dare I say that I am actually running a real-life, timed, official HALF MARATHON this weekend. The train tickets and Airbnb are booked and I am curiously eyeing a square object with a zip lid that you can fill with clothes, shoes and toy cows. I think they call it a “suitcase”? I haven’t seen one of those for some time.
The return of races has made me snap into thinking about training properly again. As I have mentioned at least 1797315 times, beating my five and a bit year old HM PB is the thing I would like to do most in the world and I’m feeling annoyed with myself for the fact that I am unlikely to do so entirely because I have put on five kilos in the last six months. I have tried to kid myself that it is all down to Les Mills and muscle and not eating too many doughnuts but this is a lie. As I have also mentioned before I really don’t like talking about weight and firmly believe that your weight doesn’t matter as long as you are healthy (and that your health is no one’s business except your own) and that there are so many value judgements and negative ways of thinking attached to weight, especially women’s weight, that I wish the whole concept just didn’t exist. Unfortunately it seems principles like gravity and aerodynamics didn’t get this memo. I saw an online calculator which informed me that for every kilo I have gained, I have gained one minute and forty-seven seconds on my half marathon time. Given that I did a half marathon distance training run in 2:45 the other day and didn’t even feel tired or slow down towards the end (I carried on walking for another hour or so when I’d finished running) this means that sans doughnut weight I may have achieved my goal this very weekend. It is thus with great regret that I announce that Crosstown Doughnuts and I are breaking up. I have set my goal race as the Hackney Half on 26th September and by that time I will weigh 5 kilos less than I do now and also have followed a bit more of a structured training plan than “run where I like when I like as fast or slow as I like and stop when I don’t feel like running any more”.
I’ve done five races since lockdown ended with very mixed results. I’ve already written about the first three, which included a new 5km PB and my slowest 10k for three years. The next race was 10k at the Velopark, where I produced a mediocre 1:14 something. I’ve decided that this course is better suited to the 5k – the hills are quite tiring for a longer distance and so is seeing the same scenery and being lapped by the same people. (I also saw some poor girl throw up when I was on my first lap and had to run past the pool of vomit another five times). The next race was 5k at Brixton. I really love this course but was a bit disappointed that my time was much slower than I thought it would be, over a minute slower than last time I ran it. There is a bit of a feeling going round at the moment that we should be grateful to be running races at all and that times shouldn’t matter, and in comparison to everything else, I suppose they don’t. But I think I am still allowed to be disappointed because of course times matter. If they didn’t we’d all amble round races as slowly as possible and not make ourselves into purple panting things at the finish line.
The only thing I am not loving about races being back is that I’ve had a good few months where I haven’t been constantly reminded that everyone else is faster than me, including a fair number of beginners and people who haven’t run for months. Most of the time it doesn’t matter to me that I am slow but occasionally I feel a bit tantrum of “IT’S NOT FAIR! I work so hard at this! I deserve to be faster than I am!” At the Velopark race, for instance, they called everyone forward by pace, and I (correctly) decided not to go with “sub 70” and waited for “and everyone else” but there wasn’t an “everyone else” because everyone had already gone forward so I sloped forward shamefully on my own. I see people talking about how unfit they’ve got and how they haven’t run for months and then they post runs at paces that I would be celebrating and shouting from the rooftops and then make rather disparaging comments about their own performance and it is rather hard not to apply those disparaging comments to oneself. It is so much easier not to compare yourself to others when you only run alone.
Anyway, despite the rather moaning tone of this post I am still very excited for my trip to Aintree and am going to use it as a benchmark run to see what I need to do to beat that PB this autumn. If 5kg = 9 minutes, then I’m hoping that I finish within 9 minutes of my PB thus giving myself a PB in Doughnut Adjusted Pace.