Start time for this morning was 8am which resulted in a slightly rushed morning routine. The kids have been better lately and I’ve only been woken up a handful of times a night. I know that sleep is important but I just think about Gerry Duffy who did an ironman a day for 10 days with just a few hours of sleep each night. I wouldn’t want to do this forever, but I can keep it up for another few days.
I had a couple of guys with me for the start loop – Tom Davis, a GP and Ed Brown one of the communications experts working with the CCG to promote Thursday’s AGM. We trotted around 5 miles in about 9:40 pace which is a little faster than I’ve been doing the first lap of the day.
I keep meaning to write down my lap times on the A-board I have outside our Race HQ in Thame. I could also do with putting a bit more effort into the display to explain what I’m doing and how I’m getting on, but you can’t do it all.
I had a couple of laps on my own after the guys left, which added up to about 10.5 miles. I’ve had company every step of the way for the last 90 miles and although I’ve loved it, it was nice to be alone with my thoughts for a bit.
I started to struggle on that 3rd loop
Nothing major, but I was conscious that I was really looking forward to being joined by my friend and fellow Boot Camp coach Ali Galbraith. The fact that I was less comfortable with my own company was the worry. “I’ll be ok when Ali joins me” I kept thinking to myself, even though there would still be almost 11 miles to go at that point.
It did help having him along and I felt the pace pick up marginally (though it was all very even for the first 4 loops). Trouble started at the beginning of the fifth and final loop.
Every time I go through Race HQ it’s an out and back along a little side street in Thame. I grab my banana, 33Shake gel and bottle of water, hit ‘lap’ on the watch then head out for the next one.
I’ve been using a Garmin which is currently set to display average pace for the lap, and because of the way I’m starting each one I’m a little slower to start with. I also spend the first couple of hundred meters boshing my banana, water and gel which is a skill I now have down to a fine art.
But as a result of all of this, my average pace for the start of the loop takes a pasting. No drama as it usually begins to creep back down to somewhere between 9:40 and 9:50 but on this final lap, that didn’t happen.
It just sat there at 10:15 per mile, the pace I was running 2 days ago wearing a suit.
A mile into that last lap I think Ali could sense I was struggling. I’d gone quiet and the pace hadn’t picked up, so he started jabbering away with some story about when he was a kid in France and thought he might have become a Rabi. It was a story that required no input or questions or nods and noises to keep it going. It was exactly what I needed, and helped me through the first low point I’ve experienced so far.
I think it was the thought that I still have 3 more of these to do after today that got me. I deliberately try not to think about what lies ahead and focus purely on what’s happening today, but the thoughts gathered more energy and kept bubbling up to the surface.
The Rabi story ended and next I was treated to a narrative of a poor ice cream choice on a recent holiday. No detail was left out and the story bounced around playfully as my legs screamed at me.
Then all of a sudden it was like coming out of a tunnel. The pace picked up and my legs began to shake off their heaviness.
My whole mood shifted to a more positive place and I remembered that this is why I’m doing it.
The whole point of putting myself in the firing line of 10 marathons was to experience these low points.
After the run I posted the usual picture of my watch with the finish time (4:19) on Facebook along with a comment about the low point. Alex Bellini commented on it with the words:
“Low points are a blessing – don’t waste them”.
My worry had been that if it was that hard today, what is tomorrow going to be like.
Now I’m excited about the prospect of winning another battle.