Reflecting & Recharging
A personal best by a margin of 27 minutes. Better than a minute a mile faster than my prior effort. But my body language beyond the finish line told a story – the human psyche was at work. The stretching nature of the target I had set myself had proved beyond me this time and at that moment I felt deflated.
A few short months before, a dream had suddenly formed that a tubby lad from Bishopbriggs would underline a personal transformation and qualify, aged 46, to run the oldest, most iconic and exclusive marathon in the world. And that is exactly what had just happened – ask any other runner how this outcome could result in disappointment and they will re-enforce the importance of absolute targets and the true nature of distance running motivation. The pursuit at its best is about over reaching, and in doing so I had blown away all my own pre-conceptions about age and personal limitations. Club mates, friends and family weighed in with hearty congratulations, helping to articulate the realisation of what I had achieved and urging that I should harness any discontent as fuel for future challenges. Wise words. The support from those close to me had proved invaluable throughout and the encouragement of friends at my club and across the running community provides a constant source of inspiration.
I am the first to admit that with every breakthrough performance, and in common with many of my fellow runners, I am prone to rush to the Runner’s World website or McMillan online calculator to get a fresh forecast about how my effort might translate to likely race outcomes at other, normally longer, distances. What is often found in small writing alongside these formulas should really be in big bold letters – “calculation only accurate if accompanied by the appropriate training and preparation“. The numbers coughed up for 26.2 miles can often be a little daunting but races are not run by algorithm and each of us are naturally suited by genetic build to either speed or endurance. The process is a very personal one and it is sheer weight of structured mileage that appears to have made the biggest step change in my performance.
For now, the marathon remains my perfect test of physical fortitude, pace and mental strength. Not because we can’t run further, longer or faster but because whatever the pace chosen by any given individual, it cannot prevent the steep depletion of resources in the human body over the course of the race. In essence, if being run as an athletic pursuit with a suitably stretching goal, every single aspect that affects performance must be executed perfectly for success. And that is what draws me and the growing mass of runners worldwide back to the challenge.
Unfinished business remains, both in Boston and beyond.