I'm sat here full up of all the carbs, cup of tea number three and a vat of water in front of me. Ice packs around both lower shins. Preparation, preparation, preparation. I may have already said it but it really does occur to me if you want to understand the difference between discomfort and pain just become a runner. Right now, a bit of discomfort. Sunday there will be pain.
And I will bear it. And I will beat it.
How do I know? Well, as it happens I was meant to run today but the shins are reminding me of the mad pace I attempted to put them through at the Realbuzz Parkrun meetup this past Saturday, what I'm lovingly remembering as 'Panting at the Palace'.
What a cacophony of memories that one is, I barely know where to begin so I will start with the hangover. Some of you will know that the night before I was at an awards ceremony where I'd been shortlisted but didn't win after all. Which in retrospect is fortunate because that would have likely resulted in a worse hangover than I ended up with. So onwards under the Marc plan (do trademark that!) I was meant to jog from my hotel to the meetup for a warm up as my lungs currently function like an old Model T and don't typically realize what I'm asking them to do up until three miles in. Doesn't bode well for racing a 5k to say the least...
But hey ho, as it happens with a muddy head I ended up walking through an entire shopping mall to put my bags in the car, and discovered that the car was actually parked on the other side of the mall where I'd started. Now I'm racing back to the other car park, and by the time I got the bags put away, there went the warm up and I had to drive over.
I got there to see the gaggle of Buzzers ready and waiting: lovely to finally meet Yve, Marc, Jane and Em's mum, and to see Em, Nick, Kat and our head coach Hollywood there, everyone with warm hugs. What a lovely group. What impetus to forget my banging brain and push it to the hilt, warmup or not I was going to go for that sub 30 attempt.
Mind you, although I'd trained it hadn't actually registered what this meant for my pacing...
Ready steady go and we're off. Oh. My. God. Ow. Ok, so this pace was a bit insane for me, I have to admit and there was the absolutely amazing Jane shoulder to shoulder with me for the duration. Even when I had to stopandstartandstopandstart and my lungs were exploding and I couldn't catch my breath and I was braying like a donkey. I was actually feeling what happens when the oxygen isn't getting to your legs. Lead. Did I say ow? Now out comes the inhaler, now again and again. I must have told Jane to go on ahead half a dozen times. She stayed. She stayed and stayed and every lap there was HD and all I wanted to do was keep going because that's what he does. Yet still I was stop and go and stop and go. Truth be told it was bloody alarming, a week out of a marathon to be so puffed out! What on earth was going on?
Next thing we're nearing the last half lap and Jane says we're running near on 10 minute mile pace, approaching the final 200 metres and there comes Hollywood over the path and we're saying don't you DARE, but he dared and he dared mightily on a torn calf and those two pushed me to some level of superhuman limit and I sprinted with every ounce of anything I could dredge up - and it was down to the muck, this dredging. I pant out 'you are testing me' and Jane is telling me to open up my stride and HD is telling me to leave nothing, leave nothing and arrrrgggggghhh phooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
A new Parkrun PB.
I got my tag, I walked to the side.
Jane is asking 'what do you need?'
'I'm saying I need to lie down...' so I did.
I could have stayed til Tuesday.
Jane and Hollywood went back to run in Yve and Kat.
This group, this team, this magic. I am so happy to know you all.
Now, that struggle shook me and it shook me HARD. Here I'm thinking I'm fit, I'm doing well, I'm on a roll and I had such a gargantuan hard time on that run. And then I got home and looked at the Garmin and saw some ridiculous pacing, and one hell of a finishing kick. I didn't first know where it came from but I realize it now. It came from solidarity. And friendship. And faith.
And training. And power. And strength. Inside. Mine.
My shins are still feeling it today so postponing that final 4 miles on the race route for tomorrow. Pain or no, out we go. That is my max cut off for proper recovery. Physio immediately afterwards, it looks like a good plan. Looking back on everything this year, a year for which this is the culmination, it all looks like a good plan. My third 26.2, for cancer research and so for my Pops. He used to say a thing about beer back in the day but I will say it Sunday about the miles to keep myself steady "they're going down pretty EEEEEEAAAASY, big guy."
Relentless. Forward. Progress.
In just five days I will try again. A nice jog in the park. A 5-1/2 hour jog. Deep down I may actually be fearful of succeeding because then I will have to find something more challenging to chase. Good. Let's go.
Glory is waiting and this time I am not going to miss her. Those people from the mountains don't have a clue what I'm capable of, but I do.
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