I was once told, when I was living in India, that the key to life is when you are forced to take a step back it is only so you can appeciate how far you have already come. The day after Cheltenham Half Marathon I was forced, unwillingly, to try and apprecaite how far I have come. 49 minutes to be exact.
Race day started off badly yet brilliant. The traffic into the starting area had been so badly planned that despite us aiming to arrive 45 minutes early we started running after the race had actually started having left our driver still in the queue to park. I was running this half with one of my best friends from university, something I had been looking forward to for a while. We arrived at the start line and there was no one else, a rolling start line (because of the traffic) had been put in place so there was no pomp and show about starting, just go. After the first four miles it quickly became apparent that today was a good day for running. I could feel my body urging me on. As did my friend who after halfway told me to run on without him. I slipped in my headphones, upped the volume and my pace. Hovering around the 9 minute mile I thought, dreamed, could I finally reach the sub two hour mark?
Cheltenham is a really special place to me. It was where I went to school and where I said goodbye to both my grandparents. Every road etched with some small memory made the miles disappear in a cloud of thought. In hindsight the emotion of the place clouded my judgement. I pushed hard. Too hard. Crossing the line and seeing 1 hour 59 minutes I felt such indscripable joy and to share it with my friend who finished only a few minutes behind me and my incredible supporters was like nothing else. I was now 49 minutes faster than when I started running a year ago. This race, inspite of what happened afterwards, will always be high in my all time favourite races because of that.
The day after the elation the extent to which my body had stretched itself became horribly apparent. With every step it worsened. A simple walk to work became a very real struggle. Reaching the office with a pain enduced tear in my eye I realised that something had gone horribly wrong. A doctors appointment, an X-ray and a trip to the physio later and while there is still no definite diagnosis the most likely is a stress fracture. Running has come to an abrupt stop and without her I am feeling lost.
To non-running readers that probably sounds daft but if you have a passion for something you do and suddenly you could no longer do it, how would you feel?
Now when I see runners as I pass them in my car or they sprint by me while I hobble about I no longer feel the affinity, that swell of pride of being part of such a welcoming community. Instead I feel a distinct pang of envy, of what I am missing out on. It’s a kin to going through a bad breakup and seeing a happy couple and all you want to do is smear their faces with the creme brulee they are sharing. Just me?
From the side lines I feel my old self returning, the hunger for food rather than fuel. Netflix laziness winning over non impact exercise. While my body may have stumbled I know it hasn’t fallen, I am lucky to have made it this far without injury. To have gone from being a over-weight, under fit non-runner to marathon runner in a few short months is nothing short of a miracle. My body needs a rest and I must respect that and yet watching the weeks fade with zero miles clocked up I wonder; can I make it to 1,000 miles this year. Have I taken on too much too soon? Will all the highs be out weighed by low of not completing my challenge?
Miles Left to Run: 282
NEXT RACE: Good question right now!
Three Song Playlist
Jack O’Rourke – I’ll Forget You in the Morning
FøNX– Hit Me Hard
Mapei – Don’t Wait