Posted by: Caroline Thorpe29/01/2010
Last week I listened to Haile Gebrselassie being interviewed ahead of his attempt to break his own world record at the Dubai Marathon. For a recreational runner it was both awe inspiring and terrifying to hear the Ethiopian running legend describe what it takes to compete at his level.
In the event he ran 2:06:09, just over two minutes slower than the 2:03:58 needed to smash his record set in Berlin in 2008. He said later he’d been bothered by a back injury, apparently picked up while watching TV the night before the race. If that explanation is true, let’s face it: you’d be pretty gutted.
In fact regardless of the cause you’d be gutted. I would imagine failing to break a world record smarts more than most other missed goals (a comparison I’m unlikely ever to qualify to make). But that’s the thing about marathon running: you always face the fact that you’re competing with yourself.
In 2007 I ran the Paris Marathon. It was April, and the mercury was rising with unseasonal alacrity. As the temperature soared to 27 degrees and fellow racers began keeling over, my hopes of finishing on target – and runner’s superstition prevents me from revealing what that was – faded fast. In the event I finished in around 4 hours and 4 minutes. Thrilled though I was to have completed my first marathon, those four-minutes-and-one-second grated. How much better it would have been to be able to say I’d run a sub-four marathon.
This week has brought a sharp reminder of the need to constantly reassess goals and manage expectations. The lurgy struck. After a successful 14 miler last Saturday, I have not run a jot. My trainers sit unlaced, my running log unfilled. Meanwhile my chest continues to rattle, my limbs to ache. It is incredibly frustrating.
Experience tells me that running too soon will set me back even further. But if not this evening, then I feel I will cave tomorrow and lace up regardless. At this rate I’m more likely to be empathising with the protagonists on the other big marathon story of recent weeks – the Chinese runners disqualified from the Xiamen Marathon for completing part of the route by car.
Leonie’s run rate
Miles since 1 Jan: 79.4
Mild panic attacks about fundraising efforts so far: 3 and a half.
Caroline’s run rate
Miles since 1 Jan: 69
Miles missed thanks to lurgy: 14
Hopes of running run tonight: fading fast
Hopes of running weekend’s scheduled 16-miler: dashed
From Home run
Tracking the progress of Inside Housing staff and others running the London Marathon for the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust