I am definitely a dreamer and fully back the philosophy that if you believe in something strongly enough, it will most likely manifest. On the other hand, there are times when I resemble a crotchety old man sitting in an armchair, smoking a pipe and spouting sceptical theories about life. I hope this is what being balanced means because although I tend to think big, I am grateful to the old man for keeping my feet on the ground.
According to the Oxford Dictionary*, the definition of a sceptical attitude is: “Doubt as to the truth of something”
*(I’m still paying back my student loan so I occasionally feel compelled to validate my English degree by citing the OD).
The unrelenting doubt I had was that I was neither fit enough or generally capable of getting a sub 4:30 marathon result and this doubt had been compiled by the evidence of my two previous marathon times and the fact I had mostly been sacking off my long runs to go cycling/ drinking. There was also the hunch that whilst always keen and the person that gets compensated with “the A-for-effort” I’ve never been a particularly fast runner and had seen no improvement in at least a decade of trying. I had come to the conclusion that this was a plateau I was stuck on for life.
This scepticism is not to be confused with when you secretly know you’ll smash it but are playing it down nor is it a complete lack of self-confidence that is crying out for reassurance. This was a healthy state of reasonable doubt and its effects were almost calming. Although a sceptic, I was comfortable in my understanding that this was my lot and I would just go out there and predictably do what I always do whilst jigging around in a merry dance on my plateau.
I’m sure many runners would swear on their porridge that this was not the kind of baggage you should take with you on the morning of a marathon but frankly, it was the very ingredient that got me a ‘WTF result’.
Sceptical Whatsapps with my friend Kev. Pre and post race.
The benefits of a being a sceptic in a marathon
Unlike all the other marathons, I was really relaxed on the morning and had resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to enjoy it.
The pressure we put ourselves under at these things was virtually non-existent. I had no expectations and therefore no dread of disappointment.
Because I wasn’t chasing a time, the risk of bolting from the stable door was at a minimum. I paced myself so consistently throughout the marathon that I unintentionally nearly ran a negative split.
My scepticism accompanied me all the way to mile 24. It was only then that I realised I was going to make the finish line in under four hours. Despite being tired, this is when the optimist took over and drove it home.
Proving yourself very wrong by crossing the finish line 34 minutes under what you had predicted, is quite possibly one of the best feelings in the world.
For me, this was a perfect race and London is certainly one of the best marathon arenas you can wish for. My only regret is that because I was so in the zone, I neglected to spot most of my lovely friends and family in the crowd who were cheering me on. Very anti-social.
Now that I have been released from my plateau, the dreamer has been reinstalled and new goals are being carved out. I’m sure the sceptic will need to approve them first but a whole new field of opportunity has just been opened up.