Mile eight, I had the bit between my teeth, the mud between my toes and was feeling good. Actually, not good, great. My mental arithmetic is at its peak during races, must be the endorphins, I’d done the sums, I was on for a PB.
I don’t often chase times, but 2016 seemed to be a kind of go-slow year. I blame Brexit and Trump, a double whammy of instant doom and despair, which had a definite effect on my running mojo. This slowing down wouldn’t do, it most certainly wouldn’t do.
So after the December Marcothon and a joyful double parkrun on new year’s day, I gave my running self a good talking to. Why was I so slow? The answer was as plain as the declining places on the results table, I wasn’t running fast enough, yes that old chestnut. That was it, then, run faster, get personal bests (PBs).
Of course I couldn’t just wave the wand from my Mr Magic’s Magician’s Kit and expect a place on the Olympic team. I had resorted to wand-waving last year with no measurable results, and Trump still hadn’t turned into a donkey. There’s training involved, body and mind. I vowed to start straight away with the mind, positive thinking and all that.
Setting off on the Temple Newsam Ten I told myself it was going to be a good race. Ten miles of undulating trails around the beautiful country house estate with the promise of a plump sausage sandwich in the cafe afterwards, which I would eat wearing my new tee-shirt and medal. I did the race last year so knew what was to come.
When I felt like walking, I didn’t. When I really felt like walking, I allowed it, but not for far. I overtook people, which is almost unheard of, I sprang and jumped when before I’d have faffed and shuffled. I didn’t have enough breath to speak.
My watch was ticking off the kilometres, the markers were in miles, I was doing the sums and knew I could do it. Even with a naughty hill at the end and a scramble into the finish field. Even though my legs were protesting and I could hardly get the traction to move forward. Noel was there, my clubmates were there, cheering, the big digital clock was smiling at me.
I did it, I bloody well did it. Five minutes off last year’s time, five whole minutes, what a great start to my running year. I’ve some unfinished business with a couple of half marathons to sort out now, so it’s on with the training. But before then, there’s the pure joy of my 200th parkrun on Saturday, after all, if you don’t enjoy running, why do it?