In running, as in life, just when everything seems is ticking along, something comes along that knocks you sideways. Nothing has demonstrated this better than this year of our Lord, 2020.
Just as we are on the point of really ramping up our training for the virtual London Marathon, I’ve been told to self-isolate! My mate Colin is unwell and has tested positive. I saw him a couple of days before he became unwell and, as a result, I have to self-isolate for the rest of the week. Or possibly even longer! If my mate Wags, who is currently suffering from a cold and currently being tested is also positive (UPDATE: Thankfully Wags was negative and Colin is feeling much better).
Luckily I’d done my long weekend run of 16 miles plus another three hours on my feet afterwards before the call came in today. Even so, long no midweek miles for me, I’m confined to running around my garden just to get my daily mile done. Hence that colourful squiggle above!
Whilst I am abiding by the rules, I do feel that have completed that distance yesterday with no sign of any health issue, that I’m not infected. Yes, I know about asymtopmania, but seriously, after all that effort, surely I would have some slight clue that all may not be well?
Last weekend, Sue and ran the virtual Great North Run. Starting at 9.30am, we ran for a half marathon distance to earn our medal. It is a race that in previous years we have both fancied running, but it sells out quickly and we’ve not been able to commit to the date that far in advance.
This year being what it is, meant we were able be a part of it without having to schlepp up to Newcastle. It was also the date of our local Beckenham Half Marathon, which comes right past our house and we have both run in past years. That was the route pretty much sorted then! It’s not exactly a flat beast, however, so it was a good test.
We had arranged for Sue’s parents, Sheila & John, to be our support crew at various places on route, meaning we able to run without carrying water. They did a sterling job and we were very grateful on what proved to be a particularly warm Indian Summer’s day.
There was an official app to track the run, but sadly it proved pretty useless for us both and, for me, disrupted my early rhythm. We had elected to run separately and at our first refreshment station after 5 miles, Sue was around 4 minutes behind me. Despite the shenanigans at the start, I was happy with my pace, but the next section was fairly undulating and my pace dipped slightly. Sue, on the other hand, had gotten her groove on.
At the halfway water point, I took a quick break to evacuate some stones out my shoes. When I was done, I was quite surprised to see Sue right behind me. With the toughest hill on the course coming up shortly, we decided to run up it together. It was a slog in the heat, but we both got to the top without having to walk. From there on in we ran pretty much together to the ten mile point when I eased away again. Running together isn’t something we do in a race and rarely in training as, according to Sue, I usually end up ‘beasting’ her. I prefer to think of it as encouragement! On this occasion though, we both agreed that had quite enjoyed it. Maybe one day we will do a whole race together.
By the end of the run, the gap had gone back out to five minutes. For Sue, it was comfortably in her Half Marathon time range, whereas mine was somewhat slower. I’m happy to find that I can still run distances with my sore glute, but it certainly isn’t helping my times: 2:45:21 was fifteen minutes over my usual range. I’m beginning to think that when our autumn challenges are done, that a serious period of rest might be the only solution. It’s been almost a year now.
Even if we may currently be a little under-trained, we still feel reasonably confident about conquorering two Marathon distances, six days apart in a fortnight’s time. Assuming, that is, I (or indeed, Sue) don’t come actually down with COVID!