Date: Tuesday 27th January 2015 7:30pm
Distance: 5.00 km
Pace: 3:55 min/km
The Prep: Race #60 for run 160. Attempting this three days following after a trail marathon, I’ve been through a sports massage on the legs, and cold bath and “recovery” 8km run. Monday felt amazing, so light, and so ready. Tuesday was a different story. It may be psychological, it may be DOMS from my exuberant 8k Sunday recovery run. The legs just seem to be a bit more niggley than they were yesterday. They’re sore after the alternative lunch walk and they’re not as light on the stairs. Can I really do this?
I leave early and get back home and I’m tired! I last ate at 1pm and I don’t want anything bouncing around in my stomach for the 7:30pm race. Stomach is grumbling. I lie on my bed for an hour. The wait is killing me. And then the first of two saving graces; Prodigy’s new track. It’s brutal!
I close my eyes, lie there, listen and let the images form. “The day is my enemy, the night; my friend.” There is no 9am start for this. It’s dark and I own the night. This race is on my turf. The bass kicks in just as the race bursts open at the start. Running round the curves, hunting down that time like a deadly animal.
I get changed and do a few minor stretches. I walk out the door, and I’m on my way to register. I’m listening to this track and literally bouncing around. Can’t wait to do this, COME ON!!!!
Then, reality hits as I see who’s registering. Fuck! I’d hoped that I’d get away with attempting this 5k PB without certain other people being here, but that’s not gonna be my luck tonight. And suddenly, here I am in this glass atrium, 1 minute away from my house, feeling like an imposter. Even though I’ve run this circuit more often!
But then I see a shining beacon, someone I know, but who I can actually talk to without a SWAT team taking me down! Marcus! The guy who helped me get round the whole of the Greenman route on NYE.
So I tell him I’m here to claim my first sub20 5k, three days after my 6 hour trail marathon, and he says something amazing. I can’t remember the exact words, but he refers to my stubbornness to finish the Greenman and trying to get this PB right after a marathon. He says something like I don’t know the meaning of the phrase “that can’t be done”. It just doesn’t apply to me. And hearing that, felt incredible. That, here in this room full of the elite of running in Bristol, to someone that was once given up on for not being inspiring. Wow! If only I could hear that, from the person over there.
Despite this, my warm up didn’t feel great, nor did my stretches. There’s a couple of faces I recognise, but don’t claim to know. And to be honest, yeah, it’s all pretty intimidating. I’m here now on the start thinking “I don’t know if I can do this”. This is despite Marcus saying he’s aiming for a sub20 tonight and that I should just pace him. And another Southviller in green, Pete, aiming for sub20 as well. Slightly less of an imposter now, but still intimidating. “30 seconds…”
The Race: And rather than the bass dropping in that Prodigy track, I’m thinking shit, shit, shit as the race starts and I set my Garmin going. I concentrate on only two things, keeping Marcus within distance, and watching where my feet are as they get very close to the kerb. I do not give a shit where anyone else is except my pacer. I only occasionally glance at my Garmin to check that our pace is neither too slow, nor stupidly quick. It’s 3:50km/min. I’ve run at least 2km at this pace, this is…manageable.
In a semi-haze I only half register that this middle lap is a little bit tougher than the first. There’s a small amount of moving around people to keep pace, but nothing that’s going to waste too much energy. All the pre-race studies of the inclines and pacing mean very little right now, even on the back straight. Suddenly, somehow we’ve crested the highest point and we’re well in to our final lap. This is getting really tough now, but it’s nearly over. I haven’t been paying any attention to distance, only pace. When we go past the 4km mark I remember that I’d calculated that I’d need to be bang on 16mins or less by this point to have a chance of a sub20. It’s 15:?? something. Okay, just keep this up. The pace has definitely quickened. Marcus tells me to keep up with the girl in front, Tracy. So without thinking, or emotion, I do. And for a while I over take. At this point I look further ahead in the field, and think I can make out someone in green in front, and someone tall in a white and blue top way out in front. Then Marcus comes back and offers me more encouragement. I’m losing him as we start the last little incline to the finish. 400m to go. I am so close to throwing up. I can’t be bothered to think about how shit I feel. I just try to sqeeze out every little bit of gusto I have going up that incline, knowing that I just have to keep going faster if I want that sub20. I can’t remember if I over took many people, it certainly didn’t feel like that. And it certainly wasn’t a highly accelerated sprint finish. Round the corner and the last 100m. This is it, do or die.
The Result: I’ve made it in to the funnel, then I recognise a green shirt in front of the person ahead. I go to try to tap him on the shoulder, but I’m told to get back in position. I’m too delirious to be thinking straight. I hear someone take my number and I wobble back out of the funnel. There’s Marcus, I’m so relieved it’s over. There’s a couple of green shirts ahead so I wobble over to them and shake their hands. They say something to me, but I can’t talk. Only shake their hand and smile. Then I suddenly remember I haven’t stopped my Garmin yet. I go to stop it, and see 19:55. Holy shit I did it, I DID IT!! MOTHER OF GOD I’M SUB20!! And then as the euphoria hits like a tidal wave, I find my voice again. “Sub20” I squeek/croak! (Think of a frogmouse. I may have just made that up.) “I did it, sub20!” As I say it and the weight of what I’ve just done sinks in, I can see the two faces I recognise talking. I really don’t care about how far in front they were. I just wish to high heaven that one of them could hear me right now, and see the time around my wrist. After an appalling September last year, I vowed to make October better and to set my mind to running a sub20 5k. Tonight, I delivered on that promise. Half the satisfaction is achieving the time. Half of it is achieving that three days after running a trail marathon. If you only knew!
I AM SO FUCKING HAPPY RIGHT NOW. I walk in and get my bag. On my way out I see Marcus again and thank him so much for pacing tonight, and that I couldn’t have done that without him. As I leave the finish and get back on to the pavement opposite, I burst in to life again and jog home. My mind wants to run another marathon!
The Aftermath: I get back to the flat and tell my flat mate about it. I must seem like I’m off my face. And I am. I feel incredible. He has a couple of ice packs, which I use to rest my calves on. Bliss. But I can’t stomach much of the stir fry. I know that after such a natural high, there’s gonna be a crash, and lack of food and sleep wouldn’t help.
But even the next day, I went to work feeling so happy and bouncy. I wanna to tell EVERYONE! But in the end had to settle for a select few. It’s all I wanted to think and talk about. Had a good chat with fellow SRC runner Sergio. At lunchtimes, the official results come out. 19:35! Holy fuck! 19:35!!! I did that! My legs! Marcus and Pete are only a few seconds ahead of me. Someone else is now sub19. (Holy fuck that’s fast.)
And then another amazing thing. The effective boss of my boss is amazed at my time, that it’s bloody fast. That it’s “something to look up to”. Holy shit, that’s effectively saying that what I’ve achieved is inspiring, isn’t it? That’s almost saying that I’m inspiring, no?! And more comments “You are so quick”, “Just wow”, “fair shouts that’s amazing”.
But all I really want is just one single word of praise from the person downstairs. Or just an acknowledgement of how happy I am that I can achieve something like that. I leave work…restless. When I get home, I write a very short and concise message saying well done on a hugely fast time, and that I’m happy with my sub20. Nothing. And then I hear the door slam. And now, second day in a row, I’ve lost my appetite. I was happy with my 19:35. The more time goes by, the more I think it’s not enough.