Seb Coe and Steve Ovett - a couple of 800m experts.
A mere six months after our first attempt at running the 800 metres (preview) turned into a very entertaining evening in the pub instead, Kev and I returned to the Iffley Road track last night to have another go at it.
This time, you’ll be delighted to learn, we managed to run the requisite two laps before retiring to the Marsh Harrier for a Guinness.
Kev is a bit of a runner. His three-marathon-challenge has turned into a four-marathon-challenge (three down, one to go), but as ever he offered to help me complete an event and came along to act as timekeeper, morale booster and opposition.
We did a couple of laps at a gentle pace by way of a warm-up and then, having pointed the video camera at the home straight and set it running, we pointed ourselves at the first bend and did likewise.
Unfortunately, video footage of two men running around a track at something less than a blistering pace – especially when you only get to see them for about a third of each lap – isn’t exactly riveting. Thanks to the Benny Hill feature on my iBook, I have managed to speed it up a little to save you the effort of watching it in real time.
At the end of the clip, Kev holds his phone to the camera. This is because he was using it to time us and not because Lord Coe had just text to say we were bobbins.
We set off together and remained so for about 200 metres, at which point Kev started drifting ahead. During our warm-up, my legs had felt full of spring and ready for action; almost as soon as we started running for real, they felt full of lead and ready for a bit of a sit-down.
We entered the home straight for the first time and Kev had already built up a reasonable lead. He was carrying his phone and using the stopwatch feature on it to time us. I guessed he was trying to drag me along at the pace I needed to be keeping in order to break the magical double-the-world-record barrier. As it turns out, he was just showing off.
He continued to show off into the second lap and I started fading fast. Halfway down the back straight, I felt something I haven’t felt since the early stages of the swim in the triathlon in 2005 – an almost overpowering urge to just stop and give up.
Proper athletes are astounding running machines with brains that focus sharply. As they come down the back straight in the final lap of the 800 metres, they are thinking about just one thing – when to kick for home – and everything else just sinks into the background.
The way I run is also astounding, but in the same way that a octopus falling out of a tree is astounding, and my brain has a tendency to wander wildly out of its lane at crucial moments. As I came down the back straight in the final lap, I was thinking about a million different things and none of them were even remotely helping me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I came off the final bend and into the home straight to see that Kev was nearly finished. I presumed I was a long way off the target time, but suddenly, inspired presumably by the realisation that it was all nearly over, I found a burst of energy in my legs and was able to run a little harder over the final 50 metres.
I finished and Kev was all cockney grinning as he imparted the news that I’d smashed the target time and run a mighty 03:02.01.
I quit smoking at New Year. Three months on and I’m feeling very good about that, and feeling very healthy because of it. For an hour after the race last night I coughed and spluttered and felt generally tight in my chest as though I had started again. It’s good to tick another event off (a mere 101 remain), and always nice to beat the target time, but the biggest lesson from last night is that I’m pretty hopelessly unfit again (if I was ever anything else).
Result of Athletics – 800 metres:
1st Kevin Game (GBR) 02:46.00 61% Olympian
2nd John McClure (GBR) 03:02.01 56% Olympian
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Posted by John McClure at 12:18 pm