23 July 2007

Slow train coming

The Great City Race this year was neither great nor a race, at least not for me. It was the worst run I have ever participated in, by quite a long way, but I enjoyed it as a social event once I got over the disappointment of having to run it slowly.

It all went wrong when I suggested a jog to the start, by way of a warm-up. No takers this year - memories of Shane expiring before we'd even reached the Bank of England, perhaps. Anyway. of the intrepid group that did it last year two have left the firm and Francis was making his own way to the event, he and Robbie taking in a client reception before racing and returning to it afterwards (using a nearby gym to change and shower). So there were only two others to support my reckless idea, and they decided to take the tube most of the way and run from Blackfriars. They had decided to leave at 6.15, though I had convened the others for 6.
In fact we left at 6.20, and met up with the bulk of the team at 6.50. Taking the obligatory group photo took a few minutes, and it only shows sixteen participants - two we knew of were missing, but another bunch were lost somewhere. So we headed for the start rather late, and by the time we reached the City Road the leaders had been running for 3 minutes. The contrast with last year's clean getaway from the front of the pack coundn't have been greater.
The first kilometre came up in 5:33, as we dodged between slower runners and walkers - two, side by side, from a firm that made me a rather attractive offer not many months ago: how embarrassing would it have been to have been in their colours.

Knowing that there would be no fast time for me, I settled down to a comfortable pace, which happily put me in the company of my regular and most glamorous running companion. Vanessa and I crossed the line together, our times being recorded as identical but with her four places ahead of me. Paul McAleavey, one of our trainees, passed us both in the last hundred yards or so, by which time my fast-twitch fibres had decided to take the evening off and a sprint was out of the question.

Back where we had pitched camp (leaving a colleague's daughter on guard duty) Rose had joined us, and greeted me with a great hug before we headed for a local pub where we had reserved space. The evening became a lot more enjoyable once the race was effectively forgotten. Nancy looked as if she was quietly fuming at the obstacles placed in the way of a personal best (as she has agreed to pay her virtual personal trainer on a results-only basis, which seems to me a significant disincentive to bettering your best time), but when the results were posted she had improved on last year. To me, it makes it more important to get my entry in for the Last Friday of the Month, which no colleagues are up for (one pleads by email that he is his department's rowing captain and therefore needs to be in top form for the evening's waterborne racing, to which I reply signing myself "Captain of Boats").

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