I ran the Bookham 10k yesterday: six-and-a-quarter miles of hilly, muddy, glorious Surrey countryside. The woods were autumnal, unless I looked closely underfoot and saw the green leaves poking through the fallen dead ones. My emotions were stirred up and my training has suffered with a run of bugs and I had my usual bout of pre-race, 'Why am I here, what am I doing this for?' wobbles. But I have set myself the 'intention' of re-running all last year's four races and this was the first one. I may not be at the peak of condition, but I can manage a 10k and it is a joy to be out in nature, running in the country and sharing with a couple of hundred other enthusiasts. I reassured myself that I had the afternoon to rest and company today if I needed more recovery time; I encouraged myself with the thought that there is little point in driving so far and paying to enter a race if I am going to hold back and I reminded myself that this is a very 'me' thing to do. Separate from myself as a wife, mother, friend or any other role I fulfill, running is just me and the air I breathe, my goals and my achievement. I "got my head in the game" and ran hard.
I think I did well: I was 9th lady in my age group and 25th lady overall. I completed it in 1 hour and 7 seconds, which compares well with the winning lady's result of 46:11 (did I mention the hills and the mud and the hills?) But I cannot get over the bugging fact that I don't have last year's time. I want to know if I did better. I tell myself that it shouldn't matter, that it doesn't matter, that I can be pleased with this year's achievement, but still I want to know. I want to have been faster.
There will come a time, and maybe it has already come, when I don't run faster than last year and I hope that I still find purpose and fun in the race and in the process of running. Running itself must be the goal, the purpose, the end in itself, otherwise the drive to achieve more will become and unbearable pressure and drain the all the fun.