Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bit worried. Which is great!

Right – T-4 and T-11 now! The body is still ready, the mind…

Well, let’s not be hypocritical here: the mind is wavering. Least, it wavers at times, by no means continuously. It certainly wavered a tad earlier today when I was out running with Jon and struggling towards the end of a steep rise. It wasn’t a particularly long run, but it was the ending to end all endings… and it reminded me why I can’t stand running. Seriously. I wanted to stop and just walk home – it’s not as if it was far! And yes, it briefly brought back memories of running with my Dad and wanting to stop. But that was then, this is now. I’ve got a bit better at gritting my teeth and gerrinonwi’it. It’s what life does to you. Ideally, anyway: because stopping and starting, whatever it is you’re doing, is usually harder. Anyway… where was I… yes, my mind is wavering.

But then my mind, my confidence should waver. A tough run up Nore Road, Portishead should shake it up a little. From sales folk to actors, from sportsmen to teachers, from presenters to doctors, whenever a professional is called to perform there should always be an element of fear. Fear is the greatest motivator: it needs to be managed more so than to be overcome, but intrinsically it is no bad thing. It keeps you in check, does fear. So I’m happy there is some fear, because fear will keep me on my toes, fear of failure will push me. As it did today: in the end I got there, and when I got there it felt good. So on Sunday I expect belief and my old legs will get me there. Besides, it’s only ten flippin’ kilometres! (er, did I really say that?)

I’ve been out running on the last four mornings and on eight of the last nine days. Must… not… overdo it… heck, I had learnt that lesson, right? The one about the rewarding nature of doing less? Will try to resist the temptation of going out tomorrow morning, whereas I plan on treating myself to an 11k road+trail run on Friday. I know I should rest tomorrow and, more importantly, Coach Nick has told me I should rest. On Saturday I head Up North to The Greatest City In The World and on Sunday it’s Race Day. Plans to reward myself post-race with the greasiest chip buttie going likely to be shelved in light of the Bristol Half. And there’s no chance of finding a cheap buttie, let alone a decent, über-greasy one, darn here.

Whilst I’m here… have you ever wondered what the difference is between a natural athlete who's honed his God-given gifts to become a semi-pro sportsman and... well, the likes of me (and maybe thee)?

Me: I've run 720km (447.5m) in the past five months. That's the equivalent of Trap Lane (S11) to St. James' Park (Exeter) to Merlin Park (Portishead) plus 102 laps of a running track at the end, just for the fun of it. I've spent over 50 hours of my life that I'll never get back running, all in aid of Sunday's Sheffield TenTenTen 10k (the Half thingy came later, though granted, I may not have run a 22k session training for a 10k). And believe you me, I can’t stand running! What’s my target time? 59'59"
…whereas my beloved cousin Joe Wood messaged me earlier in the week: "I am going to just run with Nats I hope so round 48-50 mins, I have done no training at all though so have no clue..."bless!!!

Mind, sticking with Nats and/or Joe is my race plan. Oly still reckons he won’t be able to keep up, but I bet he’ll manage fine. It would be awesome for the four of us to cross that finish line together, ideally hand-in-hand. But that will require us to keep the same pace and do so naturally: I don’t want anyone to slow down for me and, especially if my sub-60’ target were at stake, I’d struggle to slow down for anyone else. Well, I wouldn’t, quite simply! In fact the ideal scenario would probably be for us to keep together for nine kilometres and then make a race of it at the end! Just how realistic that is, I have no idea. All I know is that Nats, Oly and Joe have got eight and a half, ten and three quarter and twelve and three quarter years on me respectively, so I’d be flippin’ delighted to keep up with them. I’m the old one, me. Sure, I may have put in the highest amount of running-specific training of the four of us… in fact, I may even have put in more than the three of them together… but that’s because I needed to. Because, back in April, I was old, fat and unfit. I did the best I could, guys, but I’m still old. Can’t do much about that.

There you have it – three more sleeps, then it’ll be time to board that train on platform 3. When the train departs at 08:30, I’ll be in coach F, sat on seat 32A. In theory, the doors will open onto Sheffield Train Station some 167 minutes (and green English countryside aplenty) later. Rightly or wrongly, it will feel like a homecoming, as it did back in June. Because that’s what Sheffield does to me, that’s how it pulls at my heartstrings to make the most beautiful music resonate in my soul. Now, I’m not going to have this whole conversation with mi’self again and I fully accept that distance can make the heart grow fonder, that I might hear a different sound altogether if I were getting out of bed in Sheffield every day, heading to work in Sheffield, coming home to Council Tax bills in Sheffield (though bet they’d be a darn sight cheaper than darn Saath!) and all that. But, cometh this weekend, I will be delighted to be there, with my people (whether I’ve ever met them before or not, they are ‘my’ people), embarking on my first race (look, let’s forget about Salcombe, eh?) from the heart of Endcliffe Park, a place five minutes from where I used to live that will forever have pride of place in my heart… and to cross that finish line around sixty minutes later. I might even get to meet the legendary @unitedite, he of the award-winning A United View blog (which has housed musings of mine about sending off Dave Bassett, travelling to Italy with some hundred Blades and about my favourite Blade), before the race, who knows! The race will be good for the soul, make no mistake about it. Should be good for the legs, an’all. Both will see me in good stead when I head off into Bristol seven days later. And trust me, there are worse places to head off into, especially if, like me, you quite like the sight of water. That’s one thing that Sheffield doesn’t have
well, Peace Gardens fountains aside, like.

Anyway, as I said, I’m not embarking on this monologue again… not nah, anyroad. I’ve got a job to get done. And I
’ll be heading home to do it. Spiritually speaking, anyroad.

p.s.: oh, and should I need some inspiration I’ll just cast my mind to The Wall of Inspiration in my home office!

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