21 December 2008

My Aim is True

"It's not a very nice course", somebody said at the start of this month's Last Friday (in fact, on account of Christmas, penultimate Friday) 5K in Hyde Park.  For the second month running, the usual route which largely follows the banks of the Serpentine was unavailable because of Winter Wonderland, that excess of seasonal commercialism (in contrast with the rather longer-established - by about 614 years -  Frankfurt Weihnachtmarkt, of which unfortunately I just saw the edge on Tuesday evening).  But this is Hyde Park, one of my favourite running locations - how could it be not nice?

Well, the fact is that the alternative route isn't nearly as nice as the lakeside one, but another fact is that the quality of a run depends very much on who you're with.  Which, I suppose, is to say that there's a world of difference between racing complete strangers and one or two people whom you only ever run with when you're racing, and running for pleasure with friends.  There's plenty of room in a runner's life for both, but they are very different.  I've done the LFOTM many times with friends, too, but always run my own race - in fact, taken great care to try to beat them, which I've found is a forlorn hope with many of them (those who are 20 years younger than me, for a start).

This month I did get to the start on time, though the warm-up jog from Paddington was a little faster than I had intended.  It was warm for late December and there was enough sun to justify me wearing  my shades, though the amount of sunlight I deem necessary for that is minimal.  There were a few Bridges regulars, as usual, but the BDB contingent was absent: I do hope that the great running tradition will continue, and indeed reports that Nancy has encouraged groups of junior colleagues out at lunchtimes bodes well.  A monthly 5K is quite a step up from that, though.  How long, I wonder, was it between my starting to run and entering my first race?  Probably a year or so.

I didn't get to the 1K mark too quickly - well over 4 minutes, but I can't be sure how much because I haven't yet got into the habit of using my Forerunner to time anything except the full distance.  Shortly after that, Alan came past me as he so often does, and I resolved not to let him go: 3K further on, well into the second lap of the course, I slipped past him again and he eventually finished a second behind me.  I assume he isn't benchmarking his performance against mine, as I do mine against his.  Not only did I get ahead of my elder, but I also saw off a younger competitor: at about 3K one of the always-encouraging marshalls called out "well done, young man!", for which flattery I almost thanked him - but it was clearly aimed at the teenager in front of me, whom I passed shortly thereafter and stayed ahead of to the end.  (I thanked the marshall anyway, as I always try to do when breath permits.)

The time on my watch was 22:01, which I hoped would be reduced sightly in the official results: in fact, I lost a couple of seconds, and only scored an age-adjusted result of 68 per cent.  Still, given the irregularity of my training of late, not a bad outcome at all, and plenty to aim for next year.

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