Saturday, 28 July 2012

From Training to Racing: Four Unknown Variables

I’ve now run over 350k in training since April. I’ve run 9.6k in 55’ and 11.8k in 76’, allowing me to at least contemplate breaking the 60’ barrier at the Sheffield TenTenTen. But that’s all I’m doing: contemplating. Hoping. I know there are at least four things I don’t know:

I’ve looked at all the diagrams. I’ve tried to figure out how those climbs compare to those on my training route and still aren’t sure, not least because the maps suggest they are harder than Cousin Nats does… but then she is a marathon runner, with different standards to mine! Anyway, no map or diagram can provide a true feel: only your feet treading those grounds can. Cousins Nats and Ollie are doing that every week: the best I can do is look at this here screen…

I’m still sticking to asphalt in training. I don’t think I can count those hundred metres or so on grass verges. I did run a couple of laps on the field across the road but am reluctant to do so regularly: I can’t help feeling that would be like a running track and I’m trying to avoid such repetitiveness… In a while I may add a lap or two to my 11k training route, we’ll see. As for trail… I’m reluctant to go there on my own, that’s all. And asphalt is just too convenient… hopefully I won’t live to regret this. Although if I ran down, through to that field, right onto Valley Road… (hmmm… Just had a thought. Not for the first time, mind, and I’ve done nowt about it yet)

Each and every one of my steps has been as a solo effort. My next-but-two neighbour has offered to run with me, but I’m enjoying the flexibility too much to take him up on the offer. I set off when I want, don’t have to panic if the kids take an extra half-hour to go to bed; and I go where I want at the pace I want, not having to consult anyone if I want to change my plans mid-run. Saying that, I rarely do now: it’s just nice to have the option.
Come September 23, I’ll have plenty of company. People overtaking me, people stepping in front of me, people whom I overtake… and I have no experience of that. The organisers group racers (what a word!) based on target times: I can’t even remember what I entered! Will I be surrounded by people targeting 60’, will I be able to use their pace to settle in at my target pace? Truth is, I don’t know…
…as an aside, I’m still not wearing my stopwatch. On the one hand, that leaves my legs do the pacing without my mind interfering: if they can do that to get me to a 60’ pace, great. On the other (the left one, as it happens), it frees another wrist for a sweatband! I expect I’ll start wearing it again soon: it’s only a basic thing, but it may come in handy once my legs are settled. We’ll see…

I know there’ll be people cheering and encouraging. I am not entirely sure how I’ll react.
As long as things are going smoothly, it won’t be a problem. If I were to encounter a problem, will I feel exposed to the masses, even if they are genuinely supportive?
Cometh the hour, I’m sure I’ll be fine. After all, this is Sheffield folk we’re talking about. I’ll be amongst my people. I’ll be alreight. I’m always fine in Sheffield. Hey, I've had epileptic seizures in Atlanta, Barcelona, Bristol, Dublin, Portishead, Rapallo, Reading, Santa Margherita but never Sheffield*! It’s as if my mind knows 
* well, apart from that very first one which landed me in a coma at six months, anyway

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