Archive | December, 2021

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish aka My First, My Last, My Everything

14 Dec

Well, this is a post I’ve put off. In November T and I went on a lovely holiday to Jersey in the first week, and then it was back to a blur of rehearsals for an orchestral concert (me), a choir concert (T) and a chamber concert (both of us – our first together!). It was all wonderful, but I was burning every single part of the candle you can think of, and so it wasn’t the hugest surprise when I then came down with a bad cold. At first I thought I only needed to miss a few days’ training, but it lingered on, and the fatigue was bad. I did regular lateral flow tests just in case it was Omicron variant Covid, but apparently not. Still, it meant that for several weeks I couldn’t really run much, and several runs were pretty bad pace-wise, showing that the post-viral effects were still there. It’s probably only this week that I’ve begun to feel a bit more normal. It means that I’ve been set even further back from a fitness point of view, and honestly, it’s been the straw which has broken the camel’s back. Right now I just cannot face another mad dash to claw back fitness in time for spring half marathons. I know that a similar mad dash in August/early September led to me wrecking my calves, which ultimately set me back further, and so on, and so on. It feels like one of those pictures showing a picture of the picture, which is a picture of the picture. Each attempt to ‘push the envelope’ results in the envelope breaking.

If lockdown 1 taught me anything, it’s that what I now really value about running is the process of training, rather than the results. When I’m in great shape, racing and the results which flow from it are amazing fun, but for me, racing when I’m not in great shape is pretty miserable. I’ve no chance of running a qualifying time for next year’s London marathon (for reasons best known to the powers that be the qualifying window closes on 31.12.2021, even though the race is in October 2022: I don’t think any other national championship cares more about your past fitness and less about your current fitness). That lack of QT is in itself an indicator of quite how bad the last few years have been. From 2007-2020 I always held a valid qualifying time, and now even that is beyond me. My body is telling me something about what is achievable, and I need to listen.

That means I’m retiring from racing, at least for now. I’ll renew my England Athletics licence, so that if I want to help the lovely Bristol & West by making up numbers at road relays or cross country I can, but I’m not entering any more races, and I’m taking some running downtime: running what I want, when I want it. No targets. No plan. If the weather is rubbish and I just fancy a 30 minute jog, that’s all I’ll do.

Racing has given me so much. SO much. I’m leaving it on my terms. The young woman who ran something like 1h46 for her first half marathon in 2002 would never have believed that she would one day run a full marathon in a little over an hour more, winning a national team title in the process. The girl whose school reports were wrecked by PE would never have believed that she would love running so much. The hard work – the late night training sessions, the bleary eyed early morning plods – they were all worth it. But now it is time for running to be only fun, and not work. As for blogging: well, I think you can guess there won’t be nearly so much of that.

London 2015. The race of my life.