16 December 2007

A swift half

Another posting that I'll copy to someone to whom it's largely addressed - Colin the pedorthist, who set me up with my new running shoes last weekend. He'd probably be appalled to learn that after only about three outings during the course of last week I ran a half Marathon in them today, and I was pretty horrified to find it had crept up on me: but it had to be done, and the shoes rose to the occasion.

The race in question was the Abingdon Amblers annual Christmas Pud race, and I only thought to check when it was on about Thursday. So no question of preparing seriously for it, save for a bowl of porridge before leaving home - which is about as serious as my preparation ever gets, I suppose. It was cold, though not icy, much colder in the shade than in the sunshine that broke through after a few miles. I set off wearing two layers, neither of them a running vest, and leggings rather than shorts: I added a hat and gloves, but by half-way I entrusted them to the care of a friend who was manning the water station there. I should, of course, have remembered that I am never cold running, but now I think about it there are exceptions - the last 10K of the Paris Marathon, for one, though I wasn't running then. The shady bits today should be added to that list.

It was never going to be a fast run for me, but I managed to get round in 1:47:12 by my watch, including a pitstop at Wootton village hall to use the facilities ... Just after half way, John and Greg, who'd been dealing with the entries and had taken photos at the start, were positioned by the side of the road taking more pictures, and when I saw them I upped my pace to something more appropriate to a 5K, which I hope will result in some impressive shots. Once past them, of course, I resumed my half-M "get-you-round" pace. "He's slowed down again!" I heard John shout. "What did you expect?" I called back. "Vanity is everything!" came the reply, and I waved my arms in acknowledgement of the truth of that - and of the fact that I was now too far away and using my breath for running to engage in more banter.

Anyway, the shoes were perfect: no knee pains, no anything else - although some muscle groups in my legs that maybe didn't have to work so hard in the old shoes were complaining a bit by the time I got to the end. I imagine that's normal when you leave old bad habits behind.

At the end there was a table laden with unsuitable refreshments, plus even less suitable mulled wine and the eponymous Christmas pud. The mulled wine was however excellent, though I had to go off in search of a sports drink chaser: the pud was a little cool by the time I got to it, and adhering fast to the bowl. There followed the world's longest raffle, from which I came away with two prizes (I refused the second I won, then realised that if everyone who'd already been successful declined further prizes the draw would occupy the whole afternoon so I took the next one that came up).

October sees the return, after an unfortunate break in what would have been its 25th consecutuve year, of the Abingdon Marathon. I hope I'll be up for that when it comes around.

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