I’ve done a couple of races recently. It’s been fun. Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon in my home town and last weekend some club-mates and I ran a local 20 mile race as a warm up for the London Marathon.
This race was notable for a few things. One was that I was happy with my time and that it confirmed that my training has been going well, and the other was that for the first time ever I received an email from another athlete taking part. It was sent via our club secretary; here is an excerpt.
I politely (and very slightly through gritted teeth) applauded those lapping me. Of the 7 or 8 who did lap me, the only one who acknowledged this was your representative, Ed Banks. And not only did he say thank you, he had the breath and good manners to wish me good luck as well.
Obviously it was a pleasure to receive such a kind email from a complete stranger, but it got me thinking and I felt compelled to reply. To paraphrase my response, I told her that although she admires those of us towards the front of races, the respect and admiration is certainly reciprocated. She probably cannot identify with my situation, nor can I with hers, but ultimately we are doing the same thing. Running. The only difference is that she is doing it for longer, and I have a huge amount of respect for this. I know that nearly everyone who starts a race is there to work hard, to graft, and to put themselves through large amounts of pain in the hope they will succeed. The sender of this email was out on the road for nearly 4 hours, far longer than I have ever run for in my life.
If anyone is the hero in this story it is her and not me.