During all my races I have three voices that twist and scurry through my subconscious, battling for control. My mind, the hardened but sensible part of myself created through hours of training and self reflection. My body, the big kid inside that just wants to recklessly run and run. The old me, if Tigger is my body then the old me is Eeyore. That part of me is the person I was before I started to run, the 20 stone depression ridden guy who would always rather give up than double down.
The Chase the Moon 5K was a perfect condensed version of the struggles I go through during any race as, not only was it a really hard race, but it was my final attempt at getting a PB in every race distance this year. I arrived late, already on the back foot having got lost in the myriad of closed roads and throngs of shoppers crowding London’s streets. In my rush to get to the start I had no time to eat or drink anything, if this PB was going to happen it wasn’t going to be smooth. As I neared the start I turned my walk into a speed walk as I realised that I was running out of time.
Old Me: We are going to be late. Just give up and go home.
Body: It’s cold, why are our legs out? Also, why haven’t you eaten anything yet?
Mind: Get in the zone, come on James.
I arrive with a few minutes to spare and as I get to the start line I slip my headphones in and try to block out the negative thoughts piercing my resolve. We are called in order of our predicted times, and as I line up next to the others hoping for that time I couldn’t help but feel out of place.
Old Me: All of these people are fitter than you, they’ve not got any wobbly bits like you.
Mind: Block it all out, it’s just you. You only have to beat yourself tonight.
Body: LETS GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO!
The gun goes and we are off!
Mind: We should be sensible and pace this. Stick to the plan: go hard but consistent at a 7:35 per mile pace and we get a 23:30 5K time.
1 mile in having gone way, way too hard at a 7:01 per mile pace.
Body: Oh dear I’m starting to get tired.
Mind: I told you we should have paced it. I’m slowing down already.
Old Me: This hurts already.
As I start one of the steep climbs just after the 1 mile mark.
Mind: Great we are being overtaken by loads of people now.
Body: Are our lungs supposed to be burning?
Old Me: I bet all these people overtaking you are judging you right now.
2 miles in having gone exactly on pace and I’m really starting to flag.
Old Me: This is hurting now, stop running. Give in.
Body: Heart is starting to beat faster and loud in my chest, I remember this from our ultra. Are we having another panic attack?
Mind: That’s not a panic attack, we are just going too hard. We have to slow down or we might do ourselves some damage.
I listen to my mind and I slow down and the next mile is 30 seconds off the pace, I know that if I can’t pull something out the bag in the final 400 meters I won’t get a personal best.
Mind: It’s now or never. Dig deep. Imagine how great this will feel. Our year hinges on this.
Body: This is painful, this is brutal, this is AMAZING.
Old Me: You’re not going to make it.
Final loop, I can finally see the finish line.
Mind: Let’s give everything.
Body: Let’s give everything.
Old Me: …..
I run the final 100 or so meters at around 6:20 per mile and cross the line in a time of 22:42, beating my previous time of 24:07. I had finally done what I’d set out to achieve at the start of the year and I felt elated and exhausted in equal measure.
Mind: We did it. Thank f**k for that. What now?
Body: Can we lie down and not move for a few hours now?
Old Me: Can we go home now?