13 March 2008

Blowin' in the wind

It has moderated a little during the morning, but the start of this month's Bridges Race is bleak and cold and a gale-force wind, gusting up to 43 mph, drives the competitors into a huddle in a corner formed by two walls. No-one is prepared to be the first to take off a layer of clothing.
John, who remarks that he has never seen me arrive early for a race before, points out that the wind will be in our faces over Vauxhall Bridge but behind us crossing Lambeth Bridge. I chat to Chris, who benefitted from our run last Friday lunchtime and set a PB in his half Marathon on Sunday - by 5 minutes! I tell Julia I've been running around Cropredy, looking out for flour in the road but refraining from shouting "On! On!", in the Banbury 15. And I nearly miss my start, so engrossed am I in talking to others, so that I haven't zeroed my watch when I have to go. So no time on my watch today.
In fact, I find that the wind helps me along the first couple of hundred yards then swirls round and brings me almost to a halt - or so it seems. Out on the water, that yellow DUKW is floundering along against the tide, which is almost out, and the wind. I wonder idly whether it can outrun the flow of the water, and if it does will it be trying to get out of the river when we reach its ramp? In fact, not by a long way.
I pass Julia just where the tailwind ends, and set off in pursuit of the next runner in front of me. The wind catches us again by the MI5 building, then there is a welcome haven between there and Vauxhall Bridge where the stairs lead up to the road level. I catch Guy and a young lady competitor there, but my next target remains tantalisingly ahead of me until the end.
Down Millbank the wind lifts me and carries me almost effortlessly towards Lambeth Bridge. By Millbank Tower it swirls again, creating another invisible wall, but then it gets behind me once more and sweeps me up the bridge approach and across to the other bank.
The runner in front is just too far away to do anything about, although I pass another competitor on the way off the bridge and another (plus the young lady I passed earlier, who takes a wrong rurning and gets ahead of me again) on the sprint to the line. John's bright hat is visible but out of range, and Richard has already finished - though we learn later that he went off two minutes early, and this month the trophy therefore goes to John, who awarded it in the first place.
Not a great time, but adequate (16'24" running time, a couple of seconds slower than Chris), though I have blown my special low handicap: and Guy has now announced a rule change, whereby you can't take more than 30 seconds off your handicap by having a bad day.

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