Week 43: Stealthy Appearance at The Marlow 1/2 Marathon

Sunday 22nd October

I can put hand on heart and say that I could not have run this any faster. It was literally 95 minutes of hanging right on the threshold of what I was capable of. But what I learned today was that your head is capable of confining you of your absolute best. I’m convinced that if I had have been striving for this same time on my own it just would not have been possible for me.  It’s not that I can’t work hard for that long, I’ve done it in the past on my own. It’s that there is a gap between what I believe is possible and what is actually physiologically possible. The head drives the legs. Ralphie was like a shadow cast in front of me hovering a few paces ahead always nudging the pace. The first 500m was virtually a sprint to get into the narrow pathway along the Thames river. Not my usual way of starting these runs.

“What’s your tactics today?” he asked me.

“Follow your pace, be brave and see what happens…” was my speculative response!

And that was it, something that whirred around in my head the whole way around. There’s going to be a point at which I either run out of mental energy to hold myself at boiling point or fatigue creeps up too high for me to sustain this pace. At that point I decided that today I’d just keep leaning into the bubbling boiling point of threshold running and just see what happens. The thing is that slowing down is completely understandable, acceptable and even noble in the pursuit of a new PB. If I boiled over at 10km to crawl to the finish line I reckon I could even believe my own bullshit. Today I’m really proud to say that when the time came I was brave enough to keep exploring what was possible for me when every piece of me just wanted to pull back!

We ran the fastest 10km I’d ever run at 44mins30secs. I was pretty sure that at some point fatigue would kick in and my pace would drop. Either my legs would go or my head would reach it’s suffer-limit and pull me back…but it didn’t. I knew that tiny voice in my head would try and convince me to back off and slow down and this is when I felt I needed to be brave and hover in that red zone. The critical point for my race tactic was at 16km. Ralphie overtook 2 runners and I slowly caught up to them. If I was on my own my goal would simply be to stay with these guys. Not because it was comfortable to do so but that this was genuinely a strong pace for me. This was the moment…. be brave and see what happens.... and I did. I overtook the pair and held that pace for the next 2km leaving them behind. I had found a new level that before that moment I wouldn’t have thought I was capable of. With 2km to go Ralphie surged again and I just couldn’t hold him. Run ragged I was just desperate to get to the end. Navigating back into the Bisham Abbey I did my best to accelerate again, easy to do when your at the finish. As I turned the corner Ralphie was stood behind the finish, urging me over the line with 1hr34mins40secs on the clock. I was ecstatic. Another 3mins off my previous best from The Bristol Half and 5 minutes under the 100minute threshold that just a few weeks back I was struggling to break.

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It takes a huge amount of focus and effort for me to sustain running on the redline for that long but today was yet another realisation as to what I am capable of and what needs to be in place for me to achieve it. Food for thought for the future!

 

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