Thursday, 27 October 2011

Your attention please

It turns out that not only did I come 51st out of 72 on Saturday's parkrun, but I was 16th woman (out of 28) and first - yes FIRST - in my age category. A quick look through the results table confirmed that, remarkably, there were other people in the category. Two, in fact. So a small victory. Hooray.

Hot on the heels of success, I dragged myself out for a run yesterday. I say dragged because I've been feeling less than well since Sunday. Someone pointed out there may be a correlation between my feeling green and the amount of time I spend submerged in a pond. I don't think it's possible to catch anything from the ladies' pond. It's now so cold, no bacteria could survive. Not without a wetsuit, anyway.

So, off I went for a be-rucksacked trek up to the heath. Now, that's a little disingenuous. I got the train to the heath. Then went for a short run and an even shorter swim. I had good intentions. I would head to the parkrun course and follow that. Thereby ensuring it would be at least 5k. However, I hadn't factored in my appalling memory for direction, exacerbated by the lack of distinguishing landmarks ('I remember turning left at the big tree... oh').

Suffice to say, I got lost about 10 minutes in. And without a goal, I lost interest too and ended up wandering aimlessly in circles. I should add it was pouring with rain and by the time I located the pond I was drenched. Interestingly, it turned out that being cold and wet in no way made getting colder and wetter any easier. And I'd swear it started sleeting.

Putting aside the vice-like death grip of the water, it turned into a very pleasant swim. Getting in - and staying in - is harder as the temperature drops. But I'm considering it an exercise in focus and mind over matter. Which leads neatly onto why I'm trying to strengthen my resolve and will-power. I'm signing up for a marathon. A proper one. Something that I've always feared. It's not the distance per se. I know that logically I could potter/walk around 26 odd miles. What's always put me off is the thought of doing 13 miles and realizing I have another 13 to do. I've always feared I'd have a meltdown. This is the psychological mountain I need to climb. And while I'm climbing that psychological mountain, I need to fit in a proper training schedule too.

So, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt (who apparently borrowed the sentiment from Sir Francis Bacon), the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I confess, I had to look that up. I'd always thought it was a quote from Peter Porter's nuclear war poem, Your Attention Please. Turns out the line I'd been misremembering was 'Death is the least we have to fear'. Which is just terrifying.

(Stats: about 2.5 miles in 28.09 minutes - this involved several minutes sitting under a tree in the vain hope the rain would abate and lying on a bench at the top of the heath after wheezing my way up the hill. Swam one lap (200 metres); pond temp: 11.5 degrees celsius.)

(Pic: Just off the train, on my way to the heath.)

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