A sprint, not a marathon

Hello, hello. Good to be back. Hope you have all been spending the past three months or so doing lots of interesting things. I’m not really sure how it got to June already. I’m not even sure how it got to three months since my last post on here following the Day of Sweat around Silverstone back in March. It’s flown by, really. And I feel like I have done so little in that time.

Looking back through my blog, I’ve got about three or four half-finished entries that have yet to see the light of day. I wanted to do a big post about the week I spent in Lisbon back in April, not that I have any idea how to be a travel writer. I have a couple of posts about gaming, but my PS3 died a fortnight ago and in any case, I have no idea how to be a games writer either. There’s been plenty of talking points in football too since I last posted. The Euros have started, and it’s been, mostly, a feast so far. Then there was Manchester City and their first league title in my lifetime. In true Tottenham style, we collapsed, epically, and missed out on Champions League football at the expense of Chelsea and their captain, John “Trespassing” Terry, waving the trophy around despite being banned for being a helmet and kicking someone in the back of the legs, all dolled up in his full Chelsea kit (including shinpads) like a five year old child wearing his new presents on Christmas Day. And now Harry’s on the scrapheap after calling Daniel Levy’s bluff in an effort to get a new contract, only to get a P45 instead. Quite a turnaround in fortunes since my last football blogpost, when he was flying high and seemingly destined for the England gig. Now he’s just an unemployed pensioner. Thank you for the good times, Henry, but you have acted like a fool over the past few weeks.

So with all that been and gone, I suppose I could squeeze in a quick post about something I have a bit more experience in writing about: running. And it’s a good time to drop one in, as a week today I will have completed my first race since the Silverstone half marathon. In keeping with the trend of running ever smaller distances, I will be doing a 10k around honestly some of the grimmest roads in Manchester. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the We Love Manchester 10k.

I’ve actually run this one before, back in 2008 when I was finding my running feet and trying to break the magic 40-minute barrier for the first time. Back then it was called the City of Manchester 10k, and it’s pretty good in all honestly as you start and finish in a proper athletics stadium next door to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, with people sat in the stands cheering you on. I remember lining up on the startline and making sure I was near the front after running the Great Manchester Run a month or so before and being stuck with around 20,000 people in front of me which had messed my race right up. Off we went, and these two Kenyan lads at the front disappeared as if they were running a 100m sprint. It was outrageous. I had no concept of pacing, tried to keep up with those around me, ran the first kilometre far, far too fast then had a horrible 9k in debilitating heat, somehow coming home only half a minute shy of my target. The course back then was three laps of decreasing size, and running past the stadium to start my final tour, the Kenyans were finishing, still sprinting with barely a bead of sweat on them and about half a mile ahead of anyone else. Like I said, outrageous.

I’m quite looking forward to it though in all honesty. It comes just over a year since my last 10k, where I missed the 40-minute barrier by nine bloody seconds, in the wind and rain on both sides of the River Mersey. I’m still a bit mad about that one as I’ve only broken the 40 minute barrier once before, and to come so close to doing it again was a bit of a kick in the nutsack. I’ve set myself the target of doing it here, but to be quite honest, I’ve not really got into the swing of training. The 25 degree temperatures a couple of weeks back were brutal and coincided with the first heavy days of my training plan. So instead of running earlier in the day, say, before work, I decided to sack it off entirely and go to a beer garden. I have taken it fairly seriously since then, and I’ve had a couple of really good runs, but I can’t say I’m entirely confident of getting the job done.

But then when I think about it, I’ve missed my target time in three successive races now. Each one tends to have mitigating circumstances, i.e. excuses, and in this one I’m getting them in early. Not training properly. Drinking too much. My shoes are worn out. My knee hurts. It’s too hot. And so on. Just like England going into Euro 2012, my expectations are pretty much rock bottom. This isn’t like the marathon back in October where I just wanted to finish; I know I can finish this, barring injury. It’s just a matter of how long it takes me.

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