16 December 2012

Paper Sun

It's never easy to choose what to wear for a run. Of course, some elements select themselves - compression tights, for one thing, without which I wouldn't go further than about 5K nowadays. But singlet or tee shirt? Base layer underneath? This is December - and the other day the temperature reminded me of Moscow. Which coincidentally is the only place I can remember being cold on a run. But then it was -25° centigrade, and that day this week it might have been 2 or 3 degrees below in Didcot, so it reminded me of Moscow partly because my memory is not as good as it might be.

Often, the club's Pud Run takes place on icy roads. The downhill stretch at about 2 miles can tempt one to slide all the way down (I think it would be a bad idea), and one year I was still slithering all over the place at mile 12, where the sun had not reached some patches. This year, it was positively balmy: the sun shone, my shades remained in place for most of the course, and in a short-sleeved tee-shirt I overheated. Just slightly, but overheated just the same.
Courtesy of John Harvey
Arriving in the nick of time to pay my entry fee (£4) but needing to pin on my number on the run, I had to use the shoes I had worn from home: no time to change into Luna sandals as planned. I quickly - too quickly - passed a few others on the climb up Boar's Hill, and enjoyed the effort I felt I was making. I was conservative on the downhills, and one or two passed me again, but through Bayworth towards Lodge Hill (where John took the photo) I was turning out consistent though not very fast miles, between 8:30 and 9:00. I was also enjoying a meditative experience: my mind was even emptier than usual, and I was concentrating exclusively on my running, with nothing to distract me - does that look like good form in the picture? Working hard with my arms, listening to the rhythm of my breathing, hearing the gentle sound of my own footfalls, keeping tall, not bending from my waist, feeling the work my core was doing. The miles rolled by.

At about mile 4 there was the sound of a fast runner behind me, and PF came steaming past - either he was on a second lap, or had missed the start. A small group of us swapped places, then along the Abingdon ring road I caught Trish and another guy - passing him easily, but ending up alongside Trish for quite a distance, chatting about injuries, and together passing Cliff, until eventually, about mile 11, Trish came past for the last time and disappeared from view as my pace dipped towards 10 minutes per mile. But those miles passed almost unnoticed, especially during the faster first 9 miles - which I had a feeling were going to cause trouble for e later in the run.

Under 2 hours was a very satisfying time on which to end a disastrous running year. Plenty to aim for in 2013!

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