Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Disguising Failure?

You know how you sometimes set out to do something and don't quite finish the job, so sort of pretend the unfinished job is actually the finished job, and "hey, didn't I do well" is how you sum up the sort-of-end result?

On Friday night a small group of us Arch 2 Arcers, Jo, Grantley, Neil, Dave set off from Marble Arch to head out to Dover.  One guy, Dave Kershaw wanted to run the whole 87 miles to Dover.  Me and my friend Rob ( a man I despise because of his natural ability to run short and long distances fast and with apparent ease.  I am doing all I can to undermine him, but he continues to be brilliant.  Even more annoyingly is the fact that he is a really nice guy and has supported me in everything I do. I am convinced he is patronising me, but that is more about my fucked up thinking that reality.)  Where was I? Oh yes, Rob and me had half a mind to go all the way to Dover, whereas the more sane A2A hopefuls had decided on stopping at Maidstone and then having a swim at Folkestone, as you do.

So off we trotted.  I managed to get us lost coming out of London and even the ultra nice Eddie Ette, our support was seeing his patience stretching.  This combined with a deliriously slow first 14 miles had everyone a little tense. I think we were too busy chatting and getting to know one another. Lots of stops in dangerous service stations in South London also slowed us down. Oh, and the mortally pissed guy who was so astonished by our running at 1am that he had to step out into a busy road to create a photo montage of us in our lycra and high-vis jackets.

Eventually we stepped into a steadier pace and experienced the privilege of a night run.  The roads quieten, all becomes still, and there is nothing to hear but the breathing of runners.  It feels like darkness will last forever, but time moves and suddenly you notice the light tingeing the inky sky.  Very quickly light returns and the body, deprived of sleep, receives a new boost.

We hit Maidstone, 41 miles in at about 6.30am.  At this point the sensible crew peeled off to do their swimming.  Dave wanted to pick the pace up and I knew Rob would feel comfortable with that.  It just left me, who was feeling the effects of 40 miles in my legs having to decide if I could maintain that pace.  It took me about, oh, I don't know, a third of a second to decide that I would go for a swim in Dover instead. So off I went with Grantley and Neil Kapoor (both scarily good runners) to Folkestone.  Very nice it was too.  30 minutes in the water, 90 minutes shaking with cold was a bracing end to a fairly intense piece of exercise by anyone's standard.

But as I sat in the train heading North to London I spotted parts of the run route down to Dover and my mind began to play its games with me.  Why did I stop?  I would be much more complete and satisfied as an athlete if I had run on.  And so on. When I saw the boys had reached Dover at 7 that evening I had that pang of jealousy - see text in parantheses about Rob, above....

This is the danger of endurance running.  You can always go further.  You can always finish.  I know that had I carried on I would have got further and further behind.  I would have caused a huge headache for Eddie in support as he would be split between us, and he was being employed as Dave's support.  It would have put pressure on Rob and Dave, because they would have been wondering if they should wait for me which would slow them down and detract from their enjoyment.  As it is, 3 days later I have trained constantly and easily with no aches and pains and I feel tremendously fit as opposed to bed ridden.

But still, but still, I feel like I failed.  I don't know.....time to call my therapist.

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