Saturday, 4 May 2013

Mr Chalk: Looking On from the London Marathon

by Taylor Richardson

On the 21st April, Mr Chalk took part in the 33rd annual London Marathon, in which he raised money for Epilepsy Bereaved, a charity fighting to minimise deaths originating from epilepsy. After an incredible amount of effort in training that began back in the Christmas period, Mr Chalk raised over £2,500 for the charity and now looks forward to what the future holds for him in running.

The intense training began in late December leading up to the London Marathon in April and it was during this period the Mr Chalk realised he had a great chance at beating his personal best of 2 hours 36 minutes from Amsterdam back in October. As the marathon grew closer, in March he ran a half-marathon in Reading where he finished two and a half minutes faster than he had ever before for this distance. This gave him the determination to strive to achieve a time at London in the area of 2 hours 30 minutes. This was a massive risk as that goal is at least three minutes faster than any other set for a full marathon. Bearing that in mind, Mr Chalk took on the challenge, as we are all aware how important it is to attempt to reach our full potential and strive for our next goal.

However, on the day of the London Marathon everything did not go according to plan. Instead of finishing at the aimed time of 2 hours 30 minutes, he finished 7 minutes later resulting in finishing 109th in the race. It cannot be disputed that this is an excellent achievement, but Mr Chalk felt he had the potential to come in the top 50. Retrospectively, he has described a number of factors that added up to the cause of the seven- minute gap; it was an exceptionally hot day and combined with his sore feet due to the sheer amount of training for the race this led to discomfort. The third major factor was that Mr Chalk paced himself slightly faster than planned which meant he ran each mile 15 minutes faster than expected, which slowed him down in the later miles.

Looking back on the race, Mr Chalk feels he has learnt a great deal which he can use to strengthen his future races and times. Making sure his training schedule is constantly varied whilst maintaining long, full runs is vital and remaining introspective whilst absorbing the crowd’s inspirational atmosphere will improve his running and concentration on his pace and awareness.  Also, he concluded he will need to have pedicures – it may seem unusual but softening the feet can improve efficiency and reduce discomfort.

“I spotted Mo Farah and I felt excited to run with professionals. The London crowd were like an animal; nothing prepared me for how that feeling of optimism was going to be.”

Two weeks on from the race, Mr Chalk has had his pedicure and is back running, though the training is not as intense as it was for the marathon. He wants to recover and ease back into his high running standards but already the next race is in sight. There are a few Hampshire fixtures coming up that he is hoping to win alongside some track events during the summer in which he will be competing against some of the best runners in the country.

One of the races, that is most exciting, coming up in the future is the Great South Run round Portsmouth and Southsea in which around 30 other teachers are taking part including the headmaster himself, Mr Priory. Others involved include Mr Dossett, Miss Linnett and Mr Charles. The run is taking place at the end of the October half-term this year and pupils can also get involved in the race. The school will be raising money for another school in Cambodia which Portsmouth Grammar regularly fundraises for. This will be promoted in assemblies and with notices around the school as it edges closer so take note if you are interested in finding out more. It not only helps raise money for the Cambodian school but brings a sense of community to Portsmouth Grammar and a striving to achieve a shared goal. Much positivity can be drawn from team events and persevering towards a shared aim.

Mr Chalk’s goal for finishing the Great South Run is 52 minutes and he is excited to get involved in others' training as well as his own. This again creates a sense of community and helping each other reach the best potential they possibly can; there are substantially more advantages to running than just fitness. Not only this, but there is also more science to running than just the physically act itself, as it involves planning a diet, achieving an inner focus and goal to achieve and all the other psychological factors such as structuring your life to commit to training and pushing through the feeling of wanting to stop because of the advantages achieved at the end.

From running the London Marathon, Mr Chalk raised over £2,500 which will go an incredibly long way in helping Epilepsy Bereaved. The most fulfilling part of his journey of reaching and completing the marathon was seeing his friend and father of Rebecca, which was one of the major reasons for Mr Chalk taking part in the London Marathon to begin with, at the end of the race. Rebecca passed away due to epilepsy in June last year and so Mr Chalk decided to honour Rebecca and her family by raising money for the charity and Rebecca’s story.  Reaching the end of the marathon and his emotional friend, Rebecca's father, the feeling surfaced that he was proud of what he achieved and it was a worthwhile experience. Now Mr Chalk is looking to the future and, most specifically, the Great South Run, because running is more than a way of keeping fit; it encourages the sense of community, inspiration and striving to achieve what, at first, was thought to be unachievable.

 Read Rebecca's story here.

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