I am El Burro Loco, and I like to run fast.

I’m limiting my runs slightly this week, in a part – taper, part – allow my foot a chance to heal type deal. After Sunday’s long run with Kasia, I decided I’m only running a 10k on Tuesday and another on Thursday before next Sunday’s 16km final long run before the marathon. We fly out to Warsaw on Wednesday, so there may be a chance to get a couple of 10k’s in before then, but I’m really not worried now.

But yesterday, after reading another blog (this one: http://bit.ly/1Ff8drQ ) and being rather inspired, I decided to see how fast I could run a 10k these days.

Back at my peak, I PB’d a 10k in a fraction under 30 mins (29:52), but that’s a few years behind me now. I’d picked up the name “El Burro Loco” back then, based on my old Xbox sign-in, and the fact I run “like a crazy ass”. It’s not a name I’ve used in a long while though, kinda like Obi-Wan.

I’ve spent the last few years wondering what could have been, and now I’m running again properly, I really wanted to know what I’m capable of at 38 years old.

I left the house with Kasia at exactly 8:20 she began jogging ahead, and as I caught her, she said her customary “GO!” and off I went.

I set off way too fast. I was vitrually sprinting around the first bend, and within a minute, Kasia was out of sight behind me. I felt the first pangs of tiredness aroud four minutes in (I checked my watch at my first landmark – I was already a minute ahead of where I usually am), but did that thing where you just keep running.

My pace slowed slightly, but I soon caught my breath and turned the power back up again. I seemed to hit every traffic light on the route, and the streets were unnaturally crowded with people, soaking up the very end of summer. It seemed every few feet there was someone else standing in the way, or oblivious to the giant running up behind them, or just lacking the basic ability to walk in a straight line.

Caught between legitimate reasons and excuses for being slower than I wanted to be, I resolved to run even faster. I hit the turnaround at Liverpool Street at 21 minutes.

(Regular readers will probably know I hit Liverpool Street at around 25 minutes at my usual distance pace).

It was still far too slow. I sped up. Yes, 5k in and I sped up. How things have changed in just a few short months.

I was hurtling along now. I passed Kasia just as I got stopped (again) by someone unaware that they were managing to take the entire pavement. I was about 3.5km from home at this point. “Are you walking?” She asked, confused as to why I had stopped.

“Not if I can help it. But right now, yes.” I shot a glance at the guy who had got in my way, who was still oblivious.

“Alright,” Kasia said “I’ll catch you on the way back.”

I checked my watch. Still another 3.5k to go. Time to go.

I set off again, annoyed that I’d lost more time. My calves were burning, still tender from Sunday’s 20k. The open blister on the side of my foot was rubbing under a makeshift bandage I’d applied before we left (gauze & Rocktape). I didn’t know if it would be enough protection, but my feet were heavily coated in talc.

(I just realised I forgot to inform you all – That toenail removed himself from my company late last week. He will be missed.)

I gritted my teeth, and pressed on. I hadn’t run hard like this in, well forever. It felt so good to keep pushing, despite the pain and the burn, and the annoyances that are other people. This is the downside to running in a heavily populated area. It’s not geared to runners going full pelt.

I turned the last corner. I switched to a full on sprint. It was way too close.

I pressed stop on the watch as I reached my house, but ran a little further, slowing down and then turning around to walk back.

I took a look at the time.

39:52

I took into account all the pauses, all the people, the dodging and weaving. My sub-30 had been done in the early morning, on country lanes with no traffic.

I could probably take a little time off to compensate, right? Either way, I had set out to run a sub-40 and I had done it.

I’m still a runner. I’m still El Burro Loco.

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