£3 worth of distance run

November 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not dark. Or REALLY good floodlights

One year away from the track, and what a busy year it’s been. Here I am on a mild, dark Tuesday night, stood in mild trepidation in the carpark at Exeter Arena, slightly fretting about the idea of doing twelve-times-300 metres.

Inside, I pay my £3(eek) and get some teasing from the friends I’d absented myself from, not least about my history of going a bit mad on the last effort, and whether a year of doing nothing fast might have dented that.

I’d vaguely hoped that I’d be able to hide in a huddle of slowish people like me, and I was pleased to see P* there, so that she could run behind me exerting invisible go-faster-ness. I find it easier to up my speed at the thought of being passed, than I do at the sight of people distancing me.

But, it turned out she had a wobbly foot, and she was going to be standing holding the watch and making encouraging noises while I tried not to keep people waiting.

Some lurching bouncy warm-ups of stiffly skipping and jumping, then the reps themselves came looming up out of the night…

Scene 1, and I ease into my first 300 metres, with the aim of maybe tapering off a bit later. One minute and four seconds later, and I’m completely fine, apart from the idea of actually doing another eleven of these.

A 100m walk to complete the lap now, trying to regain some composure. Second rep, and a couple of seconds come off, although I feel a bit nearer death as well.

Third, fourth and fifth reps, and I’m down to around a minute. Each second I scrape off equates to beating my previous self by roughly 5 metres. And roughly is a good word for how I’m running, scrabbling at the times.

Sixth rep, and this is the last one before we have a five minute break, and I’m down to 59 seconds, coughing and spitting (nice) as I stagger to the edge for a little lie down.

The start after the break is always such hard work, and as I run the final bend for the seventh time I’m having to think my legs round, mentally willing them to land in the right place and push forwards.  P counts me in at 59 seconds again though, and maybe I’m pulling back a little distance on the others now?

Eight, nine, ten, 58, 58, 59, and I’m leaning forward, pretending I’m a proper runner, trying to keep good form, while unsuccessfully balancing my oxygen debt in a credit-crunch sort of way.

Starting eleven now, and I’m finally believing that I can complete the session (although I know I always have before), and the image of running on tracks (around the track) gets me back to 58 seconds again.

Finally, finally, walking round to the start of number twelve, trying to get my breathing in order, and I know with certainty there is no way I can possibly pull out a fast finish from anywhere. It’s going to be all I can do to dip under a minute again, and I’ll be struggling to do that.  

Strangely though, flurrying away from the start with the others, I tuck in behind Bill and find myself passing Ian. Suddenly I’m up on my toes, and ten strides have taken me past Shaun and I’ve found that extra gear that sometimes takes me by surprise, and now another kick again to take me into the bend.

The bend though, is where payback starts, and many better writers than me have described the detailed suffering of that second awful and unexpectedly-inevitable surprise. Immersed in an absence of energy, blood in my ears instead of my legs, flailing, fading, and FFS Tom what were you thinking of?

What’s nice though, is that my early surge of hubris has taken me far enough past my friends to snap the elastic, and although I can hear hot breath in the straight, I’ve still got half a kick left to push me across the line in 52.

After, in a warm daze, chatting happily as we unwind the track by jogging anti-clockwise, I feel my crampy calves complaining about the last effort (and the other eleven), and a smile outside-and-inside about the fact I can still do silly things on the track if I want.

All that pain for 3.6km? Perhaps I should have done a few more efforts to get better value for my £3…

*I’ve been told I have to change names to avoid getting my head kicked in by a slower woman.
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