02 July 2011

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Not the Noel Coward classic: an altogether different song, by a band I remember oh so well from my youth. I suggested to one of the marshals out on the course of today's Compton Canter - during a lengthy stop for a drink at the first water station - that the title of the race should contain a reference to mad dogs and Englishmen, given the noon start time.

I ran this a couple of years ago, when it started at 2 o'clock - which might have been slightly worse. I associated it on this blog with a classic Ray Davies piece, Sunny Afternoon, which tells you all you need to know. Today wasn't quite so sunny, but the temperature was uncomfortably high - and it was pretty humid. A cooling breeze moderated things, but at one point I was assailed by a blast of warm air that reminded me of opening the car door in Death Valley - that was like opening an oven door. Nothing like as extreme in Compton today, but the same idea.

My Luna sandals attracted a lot of attention, of the "are you going to run in those?" variety. Yes indeed, and my feet were cool (but pretty dirty by the end). They did not, however, enjoy the rocky bits - there were some very uncomfortable stretches of track and a footpath through a cornfield that, unsurprisingly given the geology of the area, was littered with flints. It's only necessary to pick the spot where you're going to plant each foot very carefully, but that doesn't make for fast running.

Never mind, because I wasn't going to be running fast anyway. My first race since the Pud Run at Christmas, and that was the first in a long time. What mattered was to prove that I could complete a race, and second to do so in the Luna sandals. I reckon the running time was 47:46, which is not great for 10K and of course even less great for 9.1 which was the distance today: my time was boosted by the stops at the water stations, where I was not going to risk chucking water down my throat as I ran. Multitasking is best left to the female of the species.

Even so I was delighted to pass others on the climbs, just as I was two years ago. I've still got the right mindset, and the fitness, to make hills work for me - though there's always room for improvement. Here's a link to a photo of the finish. I completed my daily target 10K with a few laps of the playing field. Now there's the prospect of hearing Amanda Roocroft singing Strauss's Four Last Songs in Cheltenham this evening with the LPO and Vladimir Jurowski (plus Brahms 4 and the Meistersinger overture). A nice long run in the morning to look forward too, as well.

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