29 December 2006

Last Friday of the Month

I've not often had quite such a sense of "what the hell am I doing
here?" as I did lining up for the start of the Last Friday 5K this
lunchtime. My running vest was little protection against the cold and
rain, and I rather wished I'd worn a long-sleeved top - though the day
before it had been more than I needed for a luncthtime run.
I shouldn't have worried. Before I reached the 1K marker - at the right
pace, 3:57 on my watch - even my hands were warm enough. Up the slope
from that point towards the police station I was working hard to drag
oxygen into my lungs, and I could feel I was slowing just a little:
down the slope towards the Serpentine again I was reluctant to let
gravity take me. Under the bridge, I did what I could to attack the
gentle climb but I know I need to train to improve this part of the
course: the drag to the end of Long Water, though it's generally
downhill again, seems to go on for ever and it's hard to take it fast.
I pumped my arms and tried to lengthen my stride, but it didn't seem to
make much difference to my pace, and having rounded the end of the lake
I reached 3K - where was the 2K marker? - with 12:20 on my watch. 4:10
for each of the last two kilometres wasn't bad, but clearly 20 minutes
wasn't going to be on today (not that I had ever thought it might be!).
Here the wind started to make itself felt - I'm sure it was calm at the
start (though it was calm at the finish, too, so perhaps the wind was
only blowing out on the course) and the long haul to the Lido was
miserable, not to say lonely as the A race pulled away and B race
competitors started to pass me. Up the slope behind the Lido I closed
my eyes and worked my limbs as hard as I could manage, so I managed to
reach the top - nearly - without losing any speed. A couple of yards
short of the left turn at the top, however, I slowed a lot more than the
turn alone justified.
Along Rotten Row, I reached the 4K marker with 16:40 showing - not too
bad, given the headwind - and, gritting my teeth, put my head down and
tried to coax as much speed as possible from my legs. Approaching the
final straight, I gritted my teeth and attacked the climb before
mustering the best sprint I could for the line, which must have looked a
mess and involved me closing my eyes as well as gritting my teeth: as I
passed the 5K marker I stopped my watch on 21:22 (a very slow final K,
in spite of it all, and a whole 2 seconds faster than last time) and
immediately bent double until that familiar feeling of being about to
vomit passed.
Still plenty of room for improvement. Watch this space.
On the way back to the office, waiting to cross the road at Hyde Park
Corner, I met another competitor - he had running number 5 to my 4 (a
function solely of how far ahead we had sent in out entries). He'd done
18-something, despite missing the start and having to join the B race (I
think he passed me on the way to the Lido). As we parted, he introduced
himself as Gerard, and told me he runs a restaurant near Trafalgar
Square - Mint Leaf - "Google it", he suggested, and I did, and
immediately felt hungry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered if that last km in Hyde Park is slightly long! Well done on a great post-Christmas performance.