“This can’t be right,” I thought as I ran confidently back past Liverpool Street Station, “How am I so slow today?” My watch read 59 minutes into my run. Knowing my times meant that I was still at least 25 minutes from home. I pushed hard to pick up the pace.
It made no sense. How was I so slow? There had been no tourists on Tower Bridge, and certainly no walk breaks at all. Had I really run at a much slower pace the entire time? Was running ten miles a day too much much on my already tired body? Was I attempting too much in one go?
As I willed my legs to run faster, I noticed that they weren’t even aching. Sure, my foot hurt a bit where the blister was, but I wasn’t worried. It wasn’t stopping me from running. I checked my breathing. Not even out of breath. I’m eight miles in, and feeling good. There was no explanation.
I spy a runner in the distance, a couple of hundred metres away. He’s getting the gazelle treatment, I decide. Impressing even myself as I stride towards him, sneaking up from behind, I notice that he’s clearly struggling. I feel bad. And then I leave him for dust. Can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen, right? When did I become so mercenary? I don’t look back. He’s not the first runner tonight who I’ve left in my wake. But still I’m behind schedule. Must try harder.
This problem was caused by a conscious decision early in the run not to check my time. After missing out on 1h20m the last two attempts, I was in danger of getting hung up on it. I needed to just run, and enjoy it. But I’d made the mistake of checking my watch as I passed back by Liverpool Street Station, and was not desperate not to miss the 8 minute mile target. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen.
I tore through the streets, diving into the road, and running in the cycle lane when the pavement ahead became full of slow moving walkers. They became obstacles in my path. No time for pleasantries – I had to move.
I checked my watch again. 59 minutes. Wait. What?
So I had completely misread my watch and almost killed myself in the process of trying to make up lost time that I hadn’t actually lost? Damn. I laughed to myself. This was a good run.
I kept going, now confident that I was going to beat my 80 minute target, but I did ease off completely. I was now running at a very sedate pace, and I didn’t care. I soaked up the run. The feeling that I had accomplished what I set out to do, even if it was by accident. I still had a way to go, but now it was inevitable.
I was almost at walking pace myself by now. but I kept going. Ten miles completed in 1 hour 18 minutes, without a single walk break. Finally, I felt able to say that I am a runner.
It wasn’t until I got home and went to take off my shoe that I noticed the blood…
It looks worse than it is, a small blister (about the size of a fingernail) had burst, leaving a rather dramatic stain.
Here’s to another 10 mile tonight!