A marathon, not a sprint

Run 10K largeI like food. I love to eat. But, alas, several years ago I reached the age where I could no longer eat what I wanted and not worry about it. I faced a choice. A difficult choice: either eat less or exercise more.

Eating less did not seem particularly attractive to me so I decided to exercise more and I took up running.  I found I rather enjoyed it and began to enter some 10 Km races.  I wasn’t particularly swift, but it helped burn off those excess calories.  One of the favourite races I used to enter was the Cancer Research 10K, held each year at Longleat.  It was a great run, set in stunning surroundings (and there was always some wag cracking jokes about releasing the lions after half an hour, just to give you that added incentive to keep going.)

The final kilometer is perhaps amongst the best of any run: you pass the 9 km marker as you round a bend to exit some woodland onto the long driveway leading gently downhill to the magnificent facade of Longleat House, and flanked by a sea of spectators and well-wishers, all urging you on towards the finish line.

Seeing this site for the first time, hearing the crowd for the first time, I upped my pace and began the triumphant canter towards the end of the race. On I ran. And on, and on. And on. And I began to flag a little.  The old, the frail and the infirm began to pass me.  I’d peaked too soon. Having run 9 of them already, 1km didn’t seem like too far to go, but I was averaging a little over 5 minutes per km, and no way could I keep up my new pace for that long.  I slowed up and, eventually, gratefully, gasping, I crossed the finished line.

A little older, a lot wiser and perhaps a little slower, the following year I remembered my “difficult last k” as I rounded the bend on to the home straight, paced myself and finished the race stronger and faster.

And this is where we are at now with our GCSE and A-Level classes. The end is in sight, the pace has quickened and I do seem to be on a neverending cycle of producing and marking past papers for pupils to practise.  But I still remember that race, and the need to be able to keep going until the very end. I’m keeping a few past papers up my sleeve for the very final push, the sprint finish that will hopefully result in my pupils achieving the very best that they can.

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