A race to the start line

My running schedule for this week dropped into my inbox this morning.

For a so-called taper, it involves a surprising amount of recommended running – including a 12 mile next Sunday, the week before the big day.

And I’m already feeling the lethargy that often comes with tapering (something to do with your body storing lots of glycogen and water because it expects more exercise than you’re giving it.) So I can’t decide whether to stick to the schedule or just trust my legs and run what feels right for this last couple of weeks. Any suggestions?

I ran the Rotary Easter Quarter Marathon on Saturday with the aim of a 50 minute time. I knew it was ambitious – so much so that I ran with my iPod and a special speed-inducing playlist, something I never do.

In fact we had an Echo team of runners. The original suggestion was that there would be a group of girls and a group of boys and we’d have an unofficial competition. When it came to it, only three of the people on the boys team actually turned out, so we’re claiming a victory by default.

Anyway. I rolled up with plenty of time to spare, to find the two other fastest runners in our group already there. I did a nice long warm up, with the aim of being able to peg it when the whistle blew.

So far so good. But we were still short three members of the team – who finally rolled up with ten minutes to go til the off. A few last minute toilet breaks and we set off towards the start line… only to realise with horror that the mass of people in front of us were already running.

Yes, we’d missed the start, despite being there at least 45 minutes early. Sprinting to catch up with the back of the field isn’t the best way to start a race… but at least it meant a good fast mile.

As a result, I went through the 5k mark at 22 minutes, a personal best for me. Sadly, the next section of the race was the subtly uphill section of the clifftop that featured in the Bournemouth Bay half – and as much as I tried to keep my pace up, my lungs just couldn’t do it.

There were a couple of occasions where I really thought my chest might explode – but the trusty iPod saw me through. It wasn’t until the six mile marker (48 minutes) that I realised a quarter marathon is longer than a 10k by just enough to make your heart sink.

Thankfully it was mainly downhill, and I crossed the line (by my watch) in just over 53 minutes.

Despite the pain and the fact that I appear to have pulled a muscle in my left calf (oops) I actually really enjoyed it – so much so that it’s inspired me to line up a few 10k summer races to aim for after the marathon is over.

I don’t want to just slide into inactivity like I did after the last one. I may even find a winter marathon to enter…

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~ by Sam Shepherd on April 14, 2009.

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