10 April 2009

Third time around

What better way to mark Good Friday than a race? I'm sure many people will have other ideas, and it's certainly not the most obvious way to celebrate one of the great festivals of the Christian church, but the Maidenhead Easter 10 has been run 56 times now, so it is pretty ancient. Nearly as ancient as me.

The fact that it featured in the club championship persuaded me that I should enter, and helped to ensure that I got to the start in good time. Fortunately, James noticed I didn't have thee timing chip attached to me as we headed for the start, so I went back to the car to remedy that omission, and at the finish a helper stopped me to remove it before I had walked off with it still in place.

I'd entered it in the expectation that it would be a 10K, but 56 years ago I suppose kilometres weren't common currency here: when Rachael announced (on Twitter) that she hoped to break one hour, I immediately thought that was very unambitious, then read the small print.

It was an uneventful day, actually: the route is nothing to write home about, being twice round a business park with a spike taking you down the access road before performing a u-turn, turning off to the left on a cycle path on the second time round toward the west. A loop to the south and back up to the east of the business park, then round the offices again to the finish. (Here's what my Garmin recorded - I don't know what I did after the finish, but it has recorded some movement, perhaps driving out of the car park.) The weather was quite wet, though the rain wasn't heavy and Andy said he preferred oit that way: I worried that it might bring back the cold that I throught I had just about seen the back of. The marshals looked uncomfortable when the weather was at its worst, so I took particular care to thank them - which I didn't hear others doing.

I hardly saw anyone I knew (except Mark and Rachael up front as the leaders came through on the two-way stretch near the start), although I started with Andy, left him behind, and finished behind him, which was a little baffling. I stopped about mile 6 at a drinks station, to wash down an energy gel with water, which might be where he passed me: and it meant that my final time included a minute or two stationary - taking lunch, as I explained to two spectators.

I'd hoped to average 8 minute miles, and in fact got in with over 2 minutes in hand, 534th and comfortably in the first half. I came in just behind a blind runner and his guide who I'd passed and repassed a few times over the course of the race, the guide counting down the paces to the road humps: maybe if I had sprinted harder I might have beaten them, but it seemed unnecessary to take anything away from their achievement (and who knows whether I could have outsprinted them anyway?). The results are near here, but the timing people ask that links be confined to the home page, which seems a bit unnecessary as there isn't any advertising there, which is the usual reason for getting visitors to land there. Perhaps it's so we all see the copyright notice, though I notice that it doesn't identify who is trading as "JAND Results" and is therefore illegal.

My pace was pretty consistent, too, with only one mile over 8 minutes and the first three below 7:30, and it didn't feel too tough. I'm not stiff, not falling asleep, not showing most of the usual signs of having done a long run, so perhaps I'll be OK for the Compton Downland Challenge (but surely not the 40!) tomorrow.

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