I think it is safe to say over the past weeks we have all come to appreciate things in our life a lot more than we did before, or we have started to appreciate them in new ways. This week has emphasised to me just how important becoming part of a running club has been in my life. I have written about it before; but I was so apprehensive about belonging to any form of club for reasons I cannot really put my finger on, it just did not seem for me. However, being a member of Lincs S&C Run Club has added so much to both my running and life in recent months, and this week, despite not being at the stage yet where we are physically meeting as a club, I have really felt that sense of community and belonging.
One of our members - Tom - was undertaking a challenge to run seven half marathons in seven days to raise funds for the NHS, and throughout the week various members of the club were able to join him for socially distanced running. We also tracked his progress each day virtually on social media. His challenge really brought people together, gave us something to look forward to each day and to feel good about, and as someone else put, they had not seen so many happy smiling faces in so long. It is certainly something I will remember as a highlight when I think back to lockdown in years to come.
MONDAY: online exercise classes – I did these first thing in the morning today before my living room had a chance to warm up. That was the plan anyway – although it was still boiling. Is it too much to install home air conditioning during lockdown…!?
TUESDAY: today continued to be very warm still and I got out running a bit earlier to try beat the heat. I logged a steady 10k in the low 8 min/mile region, but what really struck me about running slightly earlier was the traffic on the roads! A few weeks back I had been weaving through an almost ghost town and now cars were whizzing past me almost disturbing my running zone. Again, perhaps I have taken for granted the peace lockdown has offered.
WEDNESDAY: with the knowledge I was joining Tom for a half marathon tomorrow as part of his challenge, today was supposed to ‘just’ be an easy 5 miles. I hit a quick rhythm from the start though and just never seemed to slow down. I was unable to join Tom until Thursday due to work commitments, but I did manage to get out and cheer him after my run as he ran past the top of my street. Stood at the top of my road scanning the horizon, waiting for a running figure to appear in the distance it almost felt like I was stood on the side-lines of a race again. I enjoyed my brief moment of overzealous cheering as he passed me and then headed back to the reality of a Zoom call!
THURSDAY: after a hot start to the week I was really pleased today’s weather was pretty much perfect for our half marathon – a cooler air, but still mild, and no wind. I am honestly not sure where the 13.1 miles we ran went to though; we were joined by another club member on their bike and later another runner for the final miles, and it all just passed so quickly. I also had no idea what pace we were running as it just felt really comfortable and chatty, and as long as Tom was running ok (which he was, despite this being his fifth half marathon!) that’s all that seemed to matter. As I jogged home afterwards I felt really energised and positive; it felt like a good thing to be part of and had given me a buzz that we all have probably not felt for a while. Tom went on to smash the remainder of his challenge and has raised over £1,500 in the process.
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: this week’s ‘not Lincoln parkrun’ was practically a 5k swim. I stepped out the door in fairly heavy rain, which then proceeded to quickly become torrential for pretty much the entire 5k – I could barely even see coming down one road as the rain lashed into my face! Despite it sounding pretty horrendous, it was actually quite invigorating in a weird way. I opted for my hilly 5k loop and shaved another couple of seconds off my course PB – so maybe the rain encouraged me to get home a bit quicker at least!
SUNDAY: having already logged a longer run for the week, I planned today’s Sunday run to round off my mileage. I set a target of 38 miles for the week, which left me a precise 10.6 miles to run. I pushed the pace a little more than a long, slow run as it was cool and drizzly, and for some reason ten miles also seemed short in my mind! It felt good just to turn the legs over a bit quicker though and I ventured onto some paths I had not ran on for a while, knowing the rain would make them less busy.
Amongst the positive running this week, personally we also had to announce the news that the Lincoln City Half Marathon was being postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19. I have been involved with bringing this event to Lincoln heavily through my work, who are one of the joint organisers, and it has involved a lot of time, energy and passion from myself and my colleagues. However, we know this is the right decision for the safety of all and to ensure a positive event can take place, so I do not feel too disappointed. Perhaps I even feel relief that I now know we do not have to worry about how to make sure we keep thousands of runners safe, that's if mass participation events are even allowed to take place by September.
2021 will be special in many ways, but let’s also keep embracing the positive moments and good in what we have now too.
This should have been a summary of week ten of my journey to the London Marathon, but instead I find myself reflecting on what is a very strange and uncertain time for the world. No one's lives are being unaffected by the spread of the Coronavirus, and as this week progressed, I knew the chances of the London Marathon happening were fading by the second. To be honest I am glad it has now been postponed; and postponed is the key word for me. A cancellation would have been devastating for myself and others, especially those who have longed to complete the London Marathon for many years. It was also starting to become a very anxious time waiting for announcements on the race, and every time someone mentioned the virus I felt my own anxiety levels rise, waiting to hear what the latest development had been and how it would affect me. Lastly, it was also the right decision to postpone the race for the well being of all; I would have not wanted to take part under such uncertainty and under the fear of putting others at risk; it would have tainted the experience.
Friday 13th March was a tough day for the news to hit as many Spring marathons were also postponed on this day. In fact marathons seem to fall like dominoes and I found myself messaging a lot of my friends throughout the afternoon as each of our respective races announced their postponement. I had not even had the chance to see the decision had been made on the London Marathon myself, as friends and family messaged me the news. Although not the best news to be passing on to me, I was touched at people's care that they knew this would mean something to me, and that they also had a desire to check I was ok.
So am I ok? The truthful answer is yes; in marathon terms I am totally fine with the news. To be honest, how well I am coping with the fact my main focus in life has suddenly removed is a really big thing for me; had this happened maybe last year I think I would have slipped into a very sad place very quickly. It is a testament to how I have progressed personally these past months. I am sad of course about a few things, mainly being unable to share what would have been the next six weeks of training with my Run Club friends. I have honestly loved my last ten weeks of training, my own solo training runs and my recent running adventures with friends, and I do not feel my efforts have been wasted at all - I am developing as a runner but also have made a lot of happy memories along the way. I am also sad I will not be able to cheer my friends on at their own Spring marathons, and in particular we had planned to go on mass to spectate at Manchester where a large number of Run Club members were due to be running. Hopefully we may still be able to in Autumn. I am also sad for my friends, especially those who had their first ever marathon lined up - none of them are disputing the decisions which have been made, but there are still emotions they are feeling which they are entitled to have. I have tried to be there for people and offer as much positivity and words of encouragement and support. I would have needed those a while back.
So where does this leave me? I will be taking up my place for the rearranged London Marathon date in October, and I am very pleased my fellow Run Cub friend who was also due to run London can also make the new date. I was looking forward to a race weekend together, and now it has just been shifted back a few months. In terms of training, I feel like at the moment until things become clearer in the world, there will be no races and I will not seek anything either. My next booked event is a local half marathon at the start of May, followed by a 20 mile trail event which we have entered as a group from Run Club later in the month. Therefore I have a need to keep some distance within my training, but I will undoubtedly scale back a little, especially without the drive of my big goal race.
Personally, the uncertainty in the world across the next few weeks does scare me a little. Forget marathon training, but I do need to be able to run for my personal well being, and the thought of any form of 'lockdown' and being house bound is something I fear. Since Friday, I have also been instructed by my work that I must work from home for the next three weeks, and have to cancel virtually all face to face meetings and events I had planned. It was tough walking home on Friday having lost my marathon and what felt like losing my job; I love running and I love my job, so it was a double whammy almost. I also live by myself and it feels quite lonely to think of being at home for that length of time. I am being honest about how I feel with people though, and have already had offers from friends to join them for runs in the week so I can at least see and talk to some people! Its a very weird time, and I completely appreciate the need to try and protect vulnerable people in particular, but I do also want to try safeguard my own health and happiness as much as possible, especially after working so hard to feel good again.
Anyway, enough 'virus talk' - I feel I need to sign off London Marathon training (part 1!) with a bit of what I achieved this week, as I most certainly did not give up!
MONDAY: Body Pump class
TUESDAY: a tough session of 7 miles with 3 x 1.5 mile reps - a mile and a half is a long way to push the pace and it certainly asked a lot of me!
WEDNESDAY: after a very long day at work on Tuesday and a tough run, I was grateful of 'just' 5 steady miles today, although was shocked to see these averaged 8.15 min/mile and still felt comfortable.
THURSDAY: a double run day with 8 morning miles at easy pace, followed by a precise 3.6 miles later during a continuous hill based session I led at Run Club.
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: a very pleasing morning at Lincoln parkrun, as not only did I get to share my happy place with some of my colleagues and friends from work, but I also ran a sub 21 minute time (20:53!) and finished as first female, feeling strong and possibly running off Friday 13th's frustrations.
SUNDAY: I was due to be running Ashby 20 today with a few friends from Run Club, however it was cancelled, and I instead I found myself heading out for a solo 20 miles of my own. The organisers of Ashby 20 had set up a virtual Facebook group encouraging people to log their own 20 miles, and to be honest that was enough of a challenge and incentive for me. I could not quite motivate myself enough to push the pace like a race, but I was pleased to see that I held 8:30 min/miles quite consistently throughout. There were a few slower miles in there, which directly correlated with when my motivation started to waiver, meaning my end average pace did end up at 8:40 min/mile, but it was my commitment that impress me the most.
What a week... and I do not fully know what the future weeks will hold. I do know I am going to try and keep as positive as possible, and reach out to others if I feel I am struggling. The offer of my time and support will also be there to anyone out there too. Keep safe and keep running x
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...