Setting a goal a full year ahead is always satisfying. There’s plenty of time to do what needs to be done, and a nice warm feeling of having something to aim for. But as the weeks and months tick by, the reality of doing the work sets in: quickly followed by growing panic as the deadline looms.
One very short year ago I set myself the challenge of running a half marathon. The Reading Half Marathon, to be precise, which I ran last Sunday. At least I ran most of it, my feet and ankles complained bitterly towards the end which slowed me to a walking pace. I took 7 minutes off my Henley Half Marathon time, and wasn’t last! Yeah!!! And I achieved my goal - even though I wasn’t nearly as well prepared as I could have been, or as I would have liked.
A year ago I struggled to run one mile, let along 13. I was very nervous of joining my local 3 mile Saturday morning Park Run. So although I don’t yet have the Kenyan runners quaking in their running shoes, I’ve made a lot of progress.
As always with projects, be they running, software or other changes, things never turn out as you expect. I thought if I took up running my excess weight would drop off me automatically, whatever I ate. I have to tell you that ain’t so. I thought I’d have two running buddies to keep me company, for all sorts of reasons that didn’t work out either (although one volunteered as a marshal on race day and sent me off and welcomed me back with a bright, encouraging smile). I thought running would be easy. It isn’t.
So it’s been a year of learning. Learning about motivation, my body, and my limitations. Learning that if I don’t put the effort in, I don’t get the results back. And learning that there’s a great deal to be learnt from others: authors, friends, trainers, coaches and people you meet along the way. (A huge thank you to all of you!)
Reading Half Marathon was run on the same day as the New York City Half Marathon. Over 16,000 runners took part, compared to about 10,000 in New York. Our fastest runner was Simon Kasimili from Kenya at 1 hour, 3 minutes and 8 seconds. New York was won by Mo Farah from Great Britain in 1 hour 23 seconds. Both deeply impressive and scarily fast. There’s a big difference between the best and the rest.
So although this project started out as being “One Year; One Run” it’s turned out to be just the beginning. The next goal is to run October’s Henley half marathon in under 2.5 hours. It won’t make headlines, but might give me a small feeling of satisfaction. As well as sore feet....