A gazelle, no not really, just Mike a middle-aged runner from Cambridgeshire, the type of runner who is only competitive with himself. Before this year, I used to race a lot, using races as training runs for my longer-term goals, as I like a half-marathon or a marathon.
I am the type of runner who is never going to win anything but will try hard and like other runners, I do like a statistic. This might be strange, but I love training and the other Wednesday night, I got in from a run which was meant to have been an easy five miles after the previous night’s 1,000 metre efforts session.
They were not just efforts, but ones on grass and gravel after what felt like they had been hit by a monsoon. My least favourite running surface. The good thing was that I started the run with a hint of speed in my legs.
The big question was: Would it last? The legs were still feeling good at mile two but, the brain was starting to question the situation, and I was desperate to keep the speed. So I needed some pumping tracks coming through the headphones and thankfully Fat Boy Slim stepped up. Get In! Mile three soon disappeared. My brain was now really questioning what was going on but singing away to myself - Right here, right now, you funk soul brother - the legs kept going. I knew I just had to keep it going.
Mile four was complete and now this is where the fun starts, simply because this is where my internal competitive streak comes out to play, simply because I insist my last mile is the quickest mile of any training run. The brain had given up trying to argue. The legs realised what was going on. It was mile five and I was running like that middle-aged gazelle and no one was going to get in my way, apart from the couple pushing their pram. I glanced at the watch, which was a big mistake, as this only pushed me to run faster.
At this moment the music let me down. From the fast-pumping track, I feel into In the Air tonight by Phil Collins. Oh thanks for that, clearly, I am not a superstar DJ.
The watch bleeped at me and I immediately stopped it, saving the run. I check the stats, as soon as I can, clearly hoping that it was a fast one even though it was only meant to be an easy five miles, but hey I was in that, you know, “zone”.
I even gave myself that tennis player fist pump. That last mile. Get in. I got home to be greeted by “Have a good run?”. Oh yes, I respond, buzzing at the feeling of “that zone”, something that I have been missing since my last race at The Big Half. Hey and guess what I opened the laptop and searched for races that might be on and found one and pressed enter. I know a big mistake, but what was I supposed to do? After all, I was still in the zone.