Stitched up

I had a really good run last night – five miles in 48 minutes, over quite an undulating cycle track in the dark. OK, so I won’t win any races at that pace and neither will I be able to run 26 miles with it, but it felt good and strengthened me a lot. I wish I had a few more weeks training, however, as I feel I’m getting faster to maybe run longer distances quicker. As it stands, any pace that will take under five hours is still good for me. If I have the energy a bit later to go for it, then maybe I will.

One new thing last night was that about a third of the way through I developed a stitch. Not the usual, lower down pain, more just under the ribs. It wasn’t particularly painful, but did limit my breathing for a while. This led me to worry that it may happen in the marathon, which would be rather ironic after getting over all the leg problems I’ve had. It wouldn’t stop me, but would slow me down and no doubt knock my confidence. It eventually went, though, and I carried on. Hopefully it’s a one-off.

It did bring back some memories of one of the few occasions where I have raced. The local fun run was a yearly event, and when I was 16 (I think) Steve and I were plotting a victory in our age group. Two miles round the park, ending up in a long slope to the finish line. As the eldest in our age group (next year would be the first in the adult section – no chance) this was the year where we’d win. We planned to keep up with the leaders and hopefully kick for home and grab the glory. Steve was a more experienced runner, but I have some of my dad’s running genes (he used to do cross country as a lad apparently and also has done this fun run) so was up for it.

Some kids sprinted off at the start, but soon we were nicely tucked in with the leaders. Down to the old farm, looping back on ourselves things were looking good. Coming up to the old boat playground, I was imagining a sprint finish where I powered past everyone to take the line.
And then I got a stitch.

Stitches are stupid things. What causes them? No-one seems to know for sure. You think of unfit people getting them – like when fat Uncle Fred runs after you and bends in half, clutching his side after 20 yards complaining of a stitch. Not athletes, not fit youngsters. But lo, I had a stitch and just couldn’t push on. I had to watch as Steve and the leaders raced in front, eventually seeing Steve agonising getting out-finished into second place. (I bet the memory still hurts!) I ended up officially in joint seventh (although quite how they got “joint” when there was no-one around me, I’ll never know). Maybe I was never going to win it, but I will always remember that bitterly.

Moral of the story? Despite all the hopes, preparation and good work behind in the race, luck will always play a part.

Please consider donating to the children's charity that I have now painfully run the 26.2 miles for - details at:
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