But first back to the last 2 weeks. My oh my, are you guys lovely. Read the comments. You are wonderful! I could not have asked for a more supportive and kind and thoughtful readership. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If I didn't go into a sharp decline last week it is because of all of you. I felt so loved and so cared for. I felt kind of embarassed, actually - there are worse things in the world than missing the Boston marathon. I think.
The week of the Boston marathon was, though, very weird. The weekend passed in a haze of confused emotions: sadness, anger and resignation. I wondered whether I would be able to bring myself to even follow my friends running Boston but in the event I was glued to the computer and watched all of the race, rooting for all my fabulous running buddies out there. Watching the race unfold I was also struck by how hard the course looked. It really is hilly. And it twists and turns an awful lot. But Chris and Meg and Emily and Jill and all the rest of you - you did an amazing job on this bear of a course. It goes without saying that I wanted to be there with you. But I wasn't and so I just thought of you all. Very hard!
And then, once Boston was over, it was a weight off my shoulders. Really - there was a very unexpected sense of relief, not only that the moment that could have been mine had now passed, but also that this training cycle was over. Yes, I had contemplated running another marathon. Quite a few of you recommended it and I even signed up for one when I got in from London on the Friday night before Boston. But after marathon Monday, I was done. Just done.
As in, stick a fork in me. As in, I am not running a race.
You've all been here in this training cycle with me - you know that it has not been a cracking one. I have kept the pedal to the metal in my training since January 2009. Then, I was fresh. After London I started chasing the BQ. Although I don't recall my training over the summer being fabulous, looking back over my stats I was fast and tight, and even the minor knee injury hardly stopped me. Then, after qualifying, things went wobbly for a bit. I went wobbly for a bit. I picked myself up, put myself through a 20 week training schedule and .. well .. it wasn't the best training cycle in the world. I lost my mojo. I was not as fast as I would have hoped to be and indeed had been, last year. I got injured and this injury kept popping up again. I know that, had I run Boston, I would have limped off that course. And that would have been fine with me - Boston is worth that. And taking 3 weeks off to heal would have been something I could have coped with, while gazing at my medal and that fugly but oh-so desirable blue and gold jacket. But I'm not injuring myself for a little marathon I don't care about and haven't trained for. That is not - in any way - to denigrate or minimise the effort and achievements of those who do train for it and will run it. But I trained for Boston. And, for better or worse, this training cycle is now, officially, over.
It's amazing - the amount of people who say to me "All that training! For nothing!". And I really have checked in with myself to see if that's how I feel. And it's just not how I feel at all. If anything, this weird experience has made me see that it's the training that's the point, not the race. Which I didn't realise at all, and would never have known had I not had this experience. It has been a difficult 6 months for me and my family - my training, however flawed, has kept me focused and on track in my life beyond running. The training, in short, has proved far more of an end, than a means.
So what did I do, and what will I do? Well - we have been living in a weird domestic situation for 10 months (adding to my stress) where we have been sharing (admittedly large) living quarters with my father-in-law and his girlfriend while they do up our old house to move into. The whole situation has been incredibly stressful (running out of the door was, at times, essential) not in the least because there was no definite date when they were moving out. In that weird way that things sometimes come together, the final stages of the move-out occurred on the morning I set out for London, then Boston. So... once I'd come through the weekend and marathon Monday, I buried my head into moving for a week. I emptied boxes, I cleaned wardrobes, I decluttered relentlessly - I kept myself very busy. And then this week, I got back onto the road - slowly. I am determined to give my knees enough rest to recover from whatever is bugging them. I am determined to give my mind the rest I need to go back into another training cycle with some vim and vigor.
Speaking of which - what's next? I'm asking you, actually. What's next? Although I have not heard from the BAA yet, I am assuming that next year's place is mine. (And if it isn't, well then it isn't.). So I want a fun race next. Another marathon. This autumn. What can you recommend my friends? There's a local one which appeals, even though it does not come highly recommended. It's the Experian Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham. It doesn't come highly recommended as it is both a full and a half marathon and the course of the full joins almost the entire half-marathon course, before the half-marathoners finish and the few marathoners carry on to run another 13.1 miles, in relative solitude. However, however, however. As someone who trains mostly alone, I don't fear that. In fact, in a way it would be fun to do a marathon where I wouldn't feel I was missing out on atmosphere by dialling into my iPod for the second half (I've never ever raced with an iPod on). Also, there's a certain appeal in running a local-ish marathon - not having to make elaborate or expensive plans to get there (and I can't think a volcano could prevent me from getting to Nottingham). On the other hand - it would be more fun to go somewhere. So what do you think? What can you recommend? I want to run and enjoy the race. Which races did you enjoy?
Finally - it's a good thing I'm so philosophical - now - about missing out on Boston. Guess what came in the post for me today? My official results.
Thanks guys! I really must be a big girl now...