picture by dead_squid
But then suddenly, in one of those inexplicable, but seemingly permanent, changes that one goes through at around the age of forty, I started to to enjoy it, and now I run as often as I can in the Bushy Park 5km1 each Saturday morning.
My PB is a shade over 22 mins, and I am exceeding proud of it, being of a certain age and not, to be honest, entirely of a runner's build2 and if I work hard, and run as often as I can, I have calculated I'll reach my 100th race, and receive the coveted T-shirt, and a round-of-applause-in-front-of-the-impatient-crowd before I am fifty. Just :-(
On the other hand, before I get too big-headed, 22 mins works out to be an average speed of 13.6 km/h, while the world record for the marathon was set last month in Berlin at an average speed of 20.4 km/h. That's fast. Running at that speed Haile Gebrselassie would win the Bushy Park 5km every single week. Often by more than a minute.
How far, I wondered, could I run at 20.4 km/h?
Well, another splendid thing about working for an Investment Bank is that we have a gym in the basement (and even more splendid - there are fewer people in it every month) so yesterday I put on my fastest trainers, set the treadmill to 20.4, pressed the big green button and sped off.
Afterwards in changing rooms, making idle small talk3 with strangers, I was sure I could have run further, yes much further. What stopped me, you see, thundering along on the treadmill, heart pounding, arms flailing, feet stomping on the belt, sweat dripping from my temples, headphones dangling from one waxy ear, wasn't exhaustion or lactic acid build-up in the calves. Neither was it the increasing realisation that just one tiny misstep or stumble and I was likely to lose my balance and be ejected smartly from the back of the roaring machine on my stomach.
No - what stopped me was the consternation and - if I am honest - look of absolute fear on my neighbours faces on the treadmills either side, and so that's how it was, that after just 250m I was forced to press the big red emergency stop button and call it a day.
1 for all my American readers (cough): 5 kilometres = 3.11 miles
2 the race is dominated by skinny, unhealthy-looking 20 somethings with 30" waists and long legs. Meh.
3 will our top management be sacrificing their bonuses; if they did would it be a trick; and - most importantly - would it mean a smaller or larger bonus pool for the rest of us?