Monthly Archives: February 2022

Half cocked

Big Bobble Hat, (and Garmin!) weighing me down after Brighton Half
And Red Letter Day fast approaches

What kind of an airhead am I, to be stolidly blogging about my running adventures when the world is going to hell in a handcart?

A harmless airhead, I’d venture. Yes, it’s frivolous to be investing so much on training when I could be spending spare cash and energy on higher ideals, cleaning out a spare room to offer a refugee, volunteering more and generally making myself more useful, but at least all this running around keeps a body warm and healthy, at a time when pressures on domestic fuel and the NHS have reached tipping point.

As I taper and carbohydrate load for Manchester Marathon tomorrow, I have to admit to a quite preposterous amount of navel-gazing in the past few weeks. This has also involved gazing obsessively at my 2015 training blog (2015 was a red letter year for me, Marathon Gran was born when kleiner Enkelsohn Charlie Catford made his appearance, and a few weeks later I ran my fastest marathon ever, in London).

Pining for past fitness: addictive, but destructive. I am seven years older, healthy and strong, thank goodness, but much less focused. On the other hand it’s comforting to feel nostalgia for that online training record and to note that the programme – created by me – worked so well, much better than the official guidelines in the running tomes on my bookshelves.

I can see that the work I put in all those years ago yielded better results in the February Half Marathon stage of that 12-week training programme than this one. This year I ran the Brighton Half (see pictures above) and enjoyed it very much, not least because I stayed with an old friend the night before, and she cooked me a delightful pre-race meal and arranged for her neighbour, who was also running, to give me a lift to the start. It was a wonderful, sunny day to be running by the sea and enjoying a great pint and some chips afterwards.

Sadly, this year’s half marathon time was a full 14 minutes slower than the 13 miler I raced back in 2015, which was itself a prediction of marathon greatness (for age) to come.

All the more amusing, then, that the Garmin I wear on my wrist these days (a much posher model than in 2015, which actually navigates trail running routes and is subsequently practically the size and weight of a ship’s compass) thinks I am practically elite.

Today, it’s telling me I’m ‘peaking’, and in ideal race shape, my VO2 max is Superior, I would be capable of running a half marathon of 1:37 and a marathon of 3:23; all of which is hopelessly optimistic. Laughable. On the other hand, this hefty piece of wearable tech, (alongside a bevy of friends, family and colleagues, who all profess to be impressed by the fact that a woman in her 60th year can even contemplate running 26.2miles, let alone aiming for ‘a time’), boost my confidence, just a little.

At this point, I am unable to write down the time I’m aiming for, I’ll jinx it. Once again, alongside the maranoia (feel ill, head hurts, knee hurts, no energy, am I ill?) there’s the shame: why am I wasting my precious time and intellect fretting about this?

Years and years ago, Rick gave me a little book of meditations ‘for women who do too much’. That’s a joke, right there. While navel gazing about marathon training I have neglected the research I should be doing for possible freelance work, and, the more fascinating work involved in writing about my mother, ostensibly for the wider family. Patently not busy at all.

Today’s meditation tells me :

Don’t be afraid your life will end: be afraid that it will never begin

Grace Hansen

The accompanying blurb says that we spend too much time rushing around achieving things and not enough time ‘actually living’. I imagine it’s another call to Mindfulness, whose practices I have attempted and never really embraced.

I’m going to rush around preparing for my train to Manchester now, and once I’m on it, I will take out my bib number and mindfully repeat my favourite marathon mantra, courtesy of inspirational man of the mountains, Russell Bentley

‘Sometimes you feel like you are fucked, but when you say you are fucked you are only about 45% fucked’.

Fucking well believe that.