Where is it all going?

BOLTON MARATHON 2020 TRAINING, WEEK FIVE

It’s a week ago.

We’re trotting round the park. The sun is bright and in the distance we see lots of runners who, out of habit, have also chosen to get a few miles in at 9AM on a Saturday morning. The air is still and the leaves have fallen, lending the ground various shades of gold, yellow, and in places, red. We’re running at 9 minute miles. Hardly breathing. The whole run has a dream-like quality and we both remark that we could probably run all day.

My friend Shay turns and asks, ‘Where is it all going?’

At first I think that he is talking about the paths and trails, for some twist away to various other open spaces and some hidden places. I realise within the next few steps that he is, of course, talking metaphorically – where is this all leading to?

It’s a question that I often ask. My answer is always the fact that it doesn’t matter. I return home from running in a better frame of mind than when I left. My mind is still. My lungs feel clean. My body tired. All is good. Running is enough. But this marathon has also grabbed my attention in other ways. By how much can I improve? Can I get any better? Where are my limits? Sure, I want to continue to feel grounded and happier after each run. And yet, perhaps, at 45 I also have to face the reality that I won’t have forever in which to improve and in which to really push myself harder than I have before.

So yes, Shay, where is it all going?

The answer is simple. My goal clear; my target unambiguous.

I want to run the Bolton Marathon in under three hours next May.

It’s a proper challenge for a proper marathon. My current PB is on a flat course. My current PB is 3:28. Getting down to this from my slowest marathon of 4:45 has been a hugely rewarding effort. I have no idea if I’m capable of running a marathon in under three hours on any course, let alone on one as hilly as Bolton. I’m about as unsure of whether I can do this as I am certain. I have no idea if I am physically capable. None.

To me, the feeling of challenging ourselves in the hope that we can learn something about where our limits lie is priceless. To me, it is the very stuff of life. To me, the future memory of having run a marathon in under three hours is what is going to get me out on the roads. I’ll be listening, learning, watching, observing as much as I can. I’ll be sharing what I learn on the way. And mostly, I’ll be convincing myself that I can somehow do it.

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