Getting out the door is hard. I’ve been quite good at not getting out there door recently. Usual excuses, too tired, no time, too close to having eaten, not hydrated…. yeah yeah yeah.
So since Endure24 I have been out twice. The first time was miserable and slow and I was grumpy and I had to put in walk breaks for no real reason. I’ve been quite excited about running as long as I don’t actually have to run. I like thinking about running, planning running, booking races, reading about running. I look forward to running – right up until I actually have to run. Yesterday was another one of those days – I’d been looking forward to getting out for a run all day and then I got home and just couldn’t be bothered.
However, Kath had laid out my running gear and nudged me out the door. I was only going to feed our ram – so just about 3/4 of a mile there and the same back. I set off. I felt pretty good. One of those rare runs when everything comes together immediately. When I got to the bottom of Ilkley Road where I turn right I glanced at my watch and realised that I was going much much faster than I have for a long time – for well over a year probably and even then I never ran at the pace I was running consistently. In short, for me I was going at a ridiculous speed. It’s a steady pace for others but I was stunned – my watch most definitely said 10.12 minute mile pace. I started up the hill and glanced at my watch again – obviously I had slowed up the hill but I was still well under 11 minute pace and I decided that as I was only going to Dino’s field I would just keep pushing, just keep trying to stay under 11 minute pace. My lungs started protesting as I reached the last little push up the slope, my legs threatened to slow down but then I turned left and started the downhill and everything settled down. I kept running, reached the field and stopped the watch – 10.24 pace 0.8 miles. I got my breath back, fed Dino and had a little chat with him (he’s a talkative sheep) and started thinking about the way home.
The way I had just run is downhill – a longish gentle downhill, then a slightly steeper uphill, short down, flat, short down and flat/slightly uphill to the field. The way back is the reverse and it’s harder. The uphills are tougher and I can’t remember the last time I managed to run it. In fact I think I have only managed to run the up section of Ilkley Road a handful of times. So my aim for the way back was to run it all – never mind the pace, just keep running.
I set off – it wasn’t at all conformable initially, the breathing wasn’t quite right, no rhythm. Then the short sharp slope came and I remembered a line from one of the running books I read, maybe in Running Free (Richard Askwith), that was something like: ‘Head down, small steps and wait for the summit to come to you’. And miraculously it did. I didn’t think I could keep running, I wondered if I should switch to intervals and then thought that was just too easy. I could see a friend’s van parked about 30 metres away and decided I’d run to that and if I still thought I needed a walk I could walk then. I passed the van and kept going enjoying the brief moment of flat.
Then the road started sloping gently uphill, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you’ll get there I thought. The slope gets steeper but I didn’t really notice. I was at the top before I’d had time to worry about it. I turned right and got my breath back on the downhill. I knew the toughest bit was yet to come. Ilkley Road is just a bitch. It doesn’t look like that much of a slope but it’s just relentlessly unpleasantly uphill. I turned into the road. I felt ok. I didn’t dare look at my watch. I presumed I had slowed to actual snail’s pace. I was struggling now but the Pub had just come into view and there were people sitting outside. I’m too much of a stubborn bugger to walk while the people sipping their pints can see me so I kept going, one foot in front of the other. A few steps past the pub I glanced at my watch, 11.55 pace. Wow. I presumed I had been going much slower and that the overall average pace would have dropped to slower than that. I wondered if I could keep it under 12 minutes. I took a deep breath and pushed. As the road curves to the left and steepens a little I knew I wouldn’t make the hill, my legs were like jelly but I didn’t want to give up so I turned into the road before ours and picked up the pace further as I went down the slope. I stopped at the footpath linking this road to ours.
I stared at my watch. I couldn’t quite believe it. Given how my running has been going recently, I was beginning to resign myself to the number at the front of my average pace stats always being 13 or higher – whatever the distance. I wasn’t massively happy about that but just figured that was what it was. The number on my watch said 11.46. 11.46!
Getting out the door was worth it and I’m just going to leave that there: 11.46