Richmond park races and other goals

In an effort to feel like I’m doing something with the acres of time at my disposal, I entered a whole slew of 10km runs at the beginning of the year, and a half marathon in September. Running is in some ways quite an irritating activity, mainly because of the way other people view it. They either think it makes you a dullard who’s in some way commenting on their “5-pints and a cornish pasty from the station” lifestyle, or they’re even more irritatingly impressed by the fact I put one foot in front of the other, as if this is somehow a skill that is unique to me.The third kind is the fellow runners, whose first question tends to be a variation on “Are you sub 6 minutes per mile”. That’s what I really hate, the obsession with speed and measurement. I do enter races because I want a training goal, but I hate all the stupid gadgets people buy, the way they’re endlessly clicking about on a “running computer”, and informing me at the end of our runs that we were faster than last time but dipped in the middle. I knew that anyway. I run to escape machines and computer screens and endless professional targets; I run because I want to feel that I have put my body to some use, because I can feel my breath quicken and my muscles strain, and it makes me grateful for my youth.

Sometimes I’ll go for a run that is satisfying in every way; I’ll find a pace that is challenging but not knackering, I’ll have enough energy for a little sprint to the end, get that nice little rush, and go home to a big plate of pasta and tomatoes. Mostly it doesn’t work out like that though. I start off too slowly to really get into it, or too fast to carry on, or my knees hurt, or the music on my ipod sucks so bad I go home to buy more sucky music (because I have no taste). In January and February I spent quite a lot of time up in Glasgow, and went running at 6 in the morning with my boss, which I did of course get plenty of stick about (“So Freya what do you guys talk about on those runs…?”).

In February I ran the first of the Richmond park 10k series. It was pouring with rain, and freezing cold, and I got a time of 58 minutes (roughly, I never remember the seconds).

In March I was on my rock climbing holiday, so couldn’t make the BMF Redhill race I usually do every year. Yesterday I ran the second of the Richmond races, on a beautiful sunny day. I had been out to a Greek restaurant the night before, and drunk an indeterminate amount of the house wine, so I was rather dehydrated for most of the course, and it was pretty tough. Still, I was quite encouraged at the fact I seemed to be passing people, although I slacked off substantially around the 6km mark. My  hamstring felt stiff, and I distracted myself from the pain and effort thinking at length about the evoluationary value of hamstrings, and the fact that presumably they were not designed to last people much longer than their early thirties, by which time their children would be old enough to take on the activities for which you need strong, flexible legs.

So I was pretty happy when I found I’d run it in 53 minutes. If I can keep up the training, I might be able to make 50 minutes for the Asics 10k Run London in July, which is the main target of the year. I’m just not sure how I’m going to find the time to also improve my climbing, and possibly kind of hold down a job!

The next 10k is next weekend, a “bluebell run” in Angmering which I’ve never managed to get a place for before. It’ll also be a handy way of escaping the craziness of the London Marathon, which I have no intention of ever entering.

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