27 October 2007

October last Friday

On top of insufficient training since the previous race in the series, I
developed a cold early this week and by Thursday there was nothing for
it but to take a day off work to get it out of my syste.

It's amazing how beneficial a day without a train ride into London in
the rush hour, plus a day in the increasingly depressing office and a
trip home again, can be. On Friday I felt quite ready for the
commuting, office and race. A can of Red Bull and the energy bar that
had been included in my goodie bag at Henley set me up, and the four of
us doing the race headed for the changing rooms at 12.00. I left my
socks in my office and had to go back for them, and Tom was keen to get
to the start in good time (being in the A race: the rest of us, in the B
race, had another couple of minutes in hand) so he set off. I left Tim
changing, after he'd appeared late, and met up with Hannah, taking part
for the first time, with plenty of time for a gentle jog to Hyde Park.

I directed us across St James's Park, only to find that the Mall was
closed off with crowd control barriers preventing us from crossing.
There was no traffic, but the sides of the road were lined with
guardsmen in bearskins and grey coats, with rifles and fixed bayonets.
At the pedestrian crossing by the Palace, a police officer told us we
couldn't cross, so we made out way round the Victoria Memorial to where
we could cross, and up Lower Grosvenor Place and Grosvenor Place to Hyde
Park Corner - the result being that we had run (rather than jogged) at
least a kilometre further than planned, and we arrived to see the A race
rounding the first bend. We reached the start line just in time to
reverse direction and join in the race, the worst possible preparation -
Hannah will, quite rightly, never trust my organisational skills again.

I felt good from the start and settled into a comfortable pace, but I'd
been unable to find my watch before leaving the office so I was running
with no idea of my time. Still, today was going to be about finishing,
not about a spectacular time, and at the 2K mark someone said their
watch showed 8:34 or so, which didn't seem unreasonable to me.

Apart from a woman wearing earphones - later instructed in no uncertain
terms by a marshal to remove them - edging me onto the grass as I went
to pass her, the race was uneventful though harder work than the last
couple of months. But I didn't feel as completely finished at the end
as I sometimes do, so perhaps I did still have some reserves - better to
save something, though, especially as I was still recovering from the
cold, and my breathing was not as good as it might have been. But I had
no problems with my knee, which is encouraging.

Tom was already at the finish when I arrived, and Hannah joined us a
little later, having arrived at the start already tired from the run
from the office. Tim had made it just in time to tag on to the end of
the race, and came in near the back. Rachael, my new blogging
acquaintance (and fellow-commuter before then) was at the finish, so I
had a chat with her and arranged in principle to run together at
lunchtimes in the future - it will, I think, be uncomfortably fast.

We jogged back to the office along empty roads, still closed to traffic,
which was a treat - though it didn't make up for the hassle of getting
to the race. It dawned on me that the Saudi Arabian flags adorning
alternate flagpoles on the streets around the Palace (the Union flag
hanging from the others) gave a clue about the reason for the
interruption to normal service - the downside, I suppose, of having the
Royal Parks on our doorstep in which to run.

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