A delayed update for a number of reasons, so mostly a summary of November. Light on the humour. Light on the running. Heavy on crying as it turned out.
After dragging my broken self around a last minute place in the Autumn 100 and just scraping under 23hrs my plan was to be (mostly) sensible.
The day after I did a short run as a test, and pace went from barely moving to OK within a couple of miles. This run was part recovery and part test.
Next May I’m signed up for the Thames Path 100 starting at 10am Saturday. The plan is to finish around 21-22hrs meaning I should be done about 8am Sunday. Then rush home to bed and rest, ready to take the position (at the very back) of the 7th MK Marathon on the Monday at 10am. Goal is just to finish and keep my ever-present streak going. I’ll be aiming to use every minute of the 6.5hr cut off for this one. With this in mind the recovery run after the A100 was to check it was possible to (sort of) run after a 100. It mostly was.
The rest of the week I did small runs with the dog, all around 30min and typically around 3 miles. I normally find complete cold turkey for recovery makes me irritable and fat(ter) so this was my ‘sensible’ approach.
Gentle start to the week on Monday, but Tuesday I felt itching to run so managed a 10k loop at sub 7min pace which felt pretty easy.
Wednesday I ran to feel on the usual 5am run and recorded my second fastest time in two years despite never pushing full effort.
The rest of the week followed a similar theme. I ran to feel and was knocking down Strava segment times most runs. My recovery seemed sorted and I was running great. Sunday in particular was an amazing run in the woods around Woburn and took my mind off my poorly father whilst I killed time waiting for hospital visiting hours. Sadly he passed away later that day and understandably it sucked.
Running has normally been my solace. A chance to turn off. It wasn’t working. It all seemed pretty pointless. I went on the normal club runs but got progressively slower and binned several off early. If it wasn’t for the dog needing exercise I’m not sure I’d have bothered much at all.
Got slower. And slower. And slower. Complete loss of mojo. Seriously considered stopping running for rest of month. Or forever.
I’d wake up with a head full of optimism. Today I was good. The weather was perfect. Dad would have been out in this walking the dog and chatting to other dog walkers. I was going to go out and run 6 miles. Scratch that, 10 miles was going to be smashed. At least. Maybe even a ‘cheeky’ (I hate that phrase but it popped unbidden into my head) half marathon distance. Two miles in I felt awful and the drive deserted me, leaving me to dawdle home after barely 4 miles, trailing a disappointed dog.
Running mates advised me I should stop, rest and recover. I settled for short runs most days in search of that illusive runners high. I’d happily have settled for a runners middle or sub-prime. Mostly I had a runners low.
The funeral was Monday afternoon. Dog and I went out for a pre-funeral run along the Grand Union Canal where Dad would often be found.
The run was cathartic. I’d written my eulogy and had it memorised. I spent the run reciting and refining the words. Alternating between laughing at my own jokes (at least one person would laugh then) and choking back sobs at the more serious bits. Back for a shower where I didn’t need to choke back anything but just stood in the hot stream unable to properly blub just wail at life. Was I too sad? Was I not sad enough? Wet dog looked on confused. She was only there to get fox poo washed out and wasn’t prepared for such weirdness.
Turns out my mental barriers were keeping the proper release saved for the eulogy so I could slowly fall apart and blub my way through one side of A4 to sum up nearly 84 years of life, and 38 years of mine with him.
The funeral seemed to release a lot of things. I ran the 6:40 session on Tuesday for the first time in 5 weeks. Whilst it’s good to chat to people about things sometimes it’s nice to be around those that don’t know your problems. You’re just a bloke come for a run with some others. Although off the pace it was good to be back and average sub7. The concentration obliterated other thoughts from my mind.
Wednesday 5am run I somehow managed to be late. Same alarm for 2 years. Still putting shoes on when I should have been in the car. In the car when I should have started the run. Starting the run when I should have been some half mile down the road with the rest. So I ran until my legs ached and my lungs burnt and caught them. Sheer effort was a welcome relief from weeks of a semi-numb emotional state with a welcome side game of “guess the runners in the dark by their running style and heights alone”. It’s a great party game for kids and adults of all ages.
Come the weekend I felt good so signed up on the day to the Wolverton 5 mile. It’s a small local race that I intend to enter every year but typically forget until the day after. Starting sensibly I aimed to hold pace and managed just over 33 minutes, with a 6:34 average. Legs had rediscovered what it means to push. The race attracts the good local club runners. My pace put me about halfway down the field despite being my fastest 5 miles.
Compared to big events the Wolverton 5 is cheap (Adidas run London series are closer to £40) at £12 on the day (no medal), but seems extortionate compared to the bargain to be had the next day. £16 entry fee for the Colworth Tortoise and Hare marathon got you a great trail route through Bedford with a bespoke medal, loads of aid station supplies but also a hot Pukka Pie and a mug of coffee at the end. Inspired. Sadly the fast 5 miles the day before and a heavy week (managed 73 miles) showed and I finished 3:45, 10 minutes slower than the previous year.
After two weeks of rudderless confusion I threw myself back into running. A single week got me back in contention to continue my 200 miles per month streak with four days and 26 miles to knock out.
Rested Monday and failed my usual recovery run so the 6:40 session became the recovery, followed by some intervals. Wednesday 9 miler was hard but got it done.
Two final runs with the dog and I’m all done for November. 201 miles done, bringing it to a 23 month streak of 200+.