28 December 2007

Last Friday of the Year!

Going the long way round the Circle Line took, I reckon, exactly as long as it would have done had I waited for a train in the right direction. The exercise has created a useful piece of intelligence for future use ... but I could have walked it in the same time: why on earth didn't that occur to me?

I was on my way to get changed for the race today when Ben engaged me in a discussion about a a matter that I had dealt with while he was on holiday, so by the time I had changed I'd left about ten minutes to get to the start. St James's Park was full of French tourists, most of them concerned with photographing grey squirrels (would they be as fascinated by rats or other vermin?) so it wasn't a trouble-free journey and when I reached Hyde Park my watch showed 12.31 and the B race was lined up ready to start. I almost joined them before they were off, but ended up giving them 40 to 50 yards to add to the handicap I had already given myself , viz. a brisk mile-and-a-bit from the office.

I started my watch as I crossed the start line - it will be interesting to see what the discrepancy is between my watch time and the official time - and checked at 1km, which came up in 4:16. That's about 20 seconds slower than usual, but of course usual is too fast and I thought I might have settled on a good sensible pace. I passed Terry, spluttering a brief greeting as I went. 2km went past without my spotting the marker, again as usual, and I was working hard against a brisk headwind. At the end of Long Water I ran very wide to leave plenty of room for two other runners whom I had just passed, and down the south side of the Serpentine (with the wind at our backs) it all became rather easier. 3km appeared at 13:08, making clear to me that I had indeed been going as slowly as it felt, but my pace picked up. At the Lido, the marshal encouragingly told us we were nearly at 4km: in fact, it must be about 3.5 at that point and there is a fairly serious climb just around the corner - today I closed my eyes and really attacked it, and didn't fade when I reached the top, so as I set off down the long straight parallel to Rotten Row I felt pretty satisfied. But I could see Alan in the distance, about 100 yards away and increasing, and I knew I wasn't going to catch him today.

Down into the Dell, and there were hordes of tourists there too: up the other side and my momentum nearly ran out, then I was striding out, pumping my arms, and grunting with every breath to the finish, where I remembered - for once! - to stop my watch which kindly indicated I was a second inside 22 minutes. That should knock out another of my slower times from my six best, though it probably won't boost my position in the championship.

At Hyde Park Corner on the way back, Liz appeared at my side while I waited for the lights to change. She claimed to have suffered from too much Christmas food, and her time was 19-something ... She has a place in the London Marathon - so many people call it simply "the Marathon", and I suppose to many people it is the only one they hear of in this country. It's time I put my name down for one, I think.

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