The Patriot (he ain’t half quick).
A long time ago in a distant land – filled with concrete cows and roundabouts there was held a race. Those wishing to prove their worth could chose to challenge themselves over either a half or a full marathon – both held over the same course, with a split in runners after around 10 miles.
Now, enter our intrepid hero, gallant Neil – who had decided it was time to prove himself and complete at the full distance. Preparations and training had gone well, ok – maybe not so well, but hey the sun was shining and the skies were clear on the morning of the race – so it was time to see just how fast these legs could go.
The race the organisers had kindly offered some ‘pacers’ to help – these brave soles were aiming to complete the distance in certain times – the theory being that if you stick with one of them, they would get you round the course in the time printed on their shirt – simple!
Our brave knight decided that although he could see clearly the pacer for 3.30 (just quicker than his previous best) it would be a better plan to stick with the 3.15 pacer….now if only he could find him amongst all the other competitors at the start line….hmmm must be here somewhere…
‘Bugger- that’s the start gun – well the pacer must be in front somewhere’ thought our hero – so off he went, trying to overtake runners left and right to catch up with the elusive 3.15 pace setter. The first two or three miles went well – and with the switch backs on the course there was even the opportunity to ‘high 5’ some fair maidens and other brave knights from the LFR clan – but still no sight of the pacer….so on our hero pushed…..
‘Wait – what’s that in front’ our intrepid hero thought – ‘well it’s not a pacer – but I recognise those shorts’. What he had seen was a local patriotic runner, sporting an LBAC shirt from our friends in town – and a pair of bright Union Jack shorts….’right here’s my chance’ thinks our brave lad – knowing the Patriot was a quick runner – the plan was just keep him in sight – and then that will be a huge PB at the end – and our hero will be covered in glory and paraded through the streets with ticker tape and marching bands…..’Just keep him in sight…..’
As the miles ticked by the hero of the hour was congratulating himself on being mostly awesome, and having a great run – and feeling great about the way events were panning out…..’but wait – what’s this….it can’t be surely – silly old Patriot has taken the wrong turn – ha ha – he has followed the split into the half marathon course…..what a fool – well he’ll soon turn round and then much mocking can ensure..’…
…’why hasn’t he turned around – the marshal is clearly telling everyone which direction is which’..
‘no….don’t tell me he is only doing the half….’ …..’please no’…..’I can’t have been pacing myself against a faster runner – who is racing over only half the distance…’
It was just then that a pacer with ‘3.00’ on his shirt glided past…
Well that was the last moment that our hero felt the world was ok – soon after he fell to pieces, both mentally and physically…the remaining 16 miles of dread and torture slowly ticked by…and the pancake flat scenic course had somehow changed itself into a never ending up hill mind-numbing relentless footpath….during which time runner after runner smugly sailed past without a wave or a ‘bye your leave’…..how far our hero had fallen…..
When he finally stumbled over the finish many hours later, there was no fanfare of trumpets, or ticker-tape…just a hollow feeling….after checking later, our brave (but lost) sole realised that he had set a PB on the first half by over 10 minutes….but for the full marathon his time was….well, lets be kind and say slower than he wanted….
And thus ends the tale of our brave hero….he lived happily ever after – once his toenail came free…
The moral of this tale is – if you are going to pace yourself against another runner – even if it’s someone you know – make sure you check they are doing the same race as you!!!
Otherwise you are just going to be running the worst pace scenario.