09 March 2008

Banbury 15

I reckon I need to increase my mileage quite dramatically, and the Banbury 15 seemed the perfect way to supplement last week's Reading half. Especially as I hadn't been out running again until Friday, when I did an ill-advised blast round the Parks - all of them - almost racing Chris Brolley. We agreed it had been a good run, but also that (both of us having races today) it really hadn't been one of the most sensible things we'd ever done. But when you get into a rhythm along Rotten Row there's nothing will stop you.

The Banbury race turned out to be a trip out to Cropredy, then a big loop through the countryside to the north and back the way we'd come. Four significant hills, and while they weren't very welcome they weren't in the same league as the Henley half M hill, and the whole event was a great deal less arduous than Marlow. Having said that, 15 miles is a step up from a half - though that's exactly what I wanted from it.

Rather like Wokingham, I ran a good race up to a few miles from the end. At Wokingham, My 11 miler was impressive: here, I ran out of steam a bit at around 12 miles, just as we climbed up from Cropredy prior to the descent into Banbury. I walked a bit up the hill, and then some more a little later, though my running legs came back into operation on the way down to the town. The last mile or so, on paths through town centre parkland and on pavements (a particularly unwelcome climb following a sharp left turn at a roundabout, so you couldn't see it coming - and of course you didn't notice on the way out that you were going down and would have to go up in the opposite direction in due course) seemed endless, but when you emerge from the undergrowth onto the playing field that hosts the start and finish, the end was pretty close - close enough that I could go hell for leather for it.

I'd settled on a target time of 2 hours, which seemed commensurate with my Reading time and didn't pose any insuperable mathematical problems (15 miles is so much better than 13.1 or 26.2), and despite slacking in the closing stages made it with 19 seconds to spare. I ran much of the way with Dave and another Ambler behind me, but they got away when the hill after Cropredy proved too much for me and I never caught them, but it was the time that mattered (of course!).

Next week, Dave told me, they are off to the Oakley 20, long an ambition of mine - we lived on the route when it was run the first time, and I well remember watching the runners go by and thinking, perhaps even saying, "you'll never get me doing anything as stupid as that". Not this year, though - it's too early to add another 5 miles to the distance: that can wait until Easter, and the Compton Challenge. With the hill ...

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