23 May 2015


I re-tied the rigging on my right huarache just before the start of Didcot Parkrun this morning, so inevitably it was the left one that was coming loose before the first 180 degree turn, all of 200 yards from the start. The stop added 25 seconds to my time - keep that in mind.

The bit in between was hardly noteworthy, except for a short chat with a young lad who'd had a break from running when he lost his trainers, bought a new pair and hurt his toes in them. I slowed to encourage him to stop walking, and we ran together for a while before either he slowed a bit or I picked up speed again, or perhaps both, and I called over my shoulder that I didn't want to hear him walking again. (The sound of footfalls behind you tells you a lot about what is happening where you can't see - which is one reason I so dislike the earphoneys who insultate themselves from that important information.) Then I caught another youngster, perhaps a year or so older, and passed him before we reached the turn that leads, after another quarter of a mile or so, to the finish, but he steamed past me again and as we left the path for the last 100 yards on grass I was right on his shoulder. I accelerated, so did he: I dug a little deeper, so did he: I tried again, and still he kept just ahead. I never thought to pass him, although there was no chance of that anyway, but I did want to give him a run for his money and stretch myself, which I did: 4:06 was my fastest pace, according to The Watch, right at the end.

My time was a slightly disappointing 25:01 (my Watch time being confirmed by the official results) - I would have preferred the 5 to be a 4, no matter that the 01 might have been 59 ... But subtract 25 seconds from that and 24:36 is not too far off my season's best 24:14, still less far from last-time-out 24:24. Then adjust for the extra weight I'm still carrying - oh, that's not allowed? Shame, although 2 seconds per mile for each of 14 pounds (conservative) for 3.1 miles, well, it gets me close to 23 minutes, still a long way my increasingly unlikely off sub-20 target (please, just once in my life). To show myself the effect of carrying that extra weight, I tried some pull-ups on the bars near the finish while I waited for my neighbour Yvonne, who was chauffeuse for the day: I couldn't complete one repeat. Upper body strength has never been my strong point but that's ridiculous: I should have been able to do three or so. At least I could do 15 situps, so my core is OK.

Actually, having not run for three weeks, since that 24:24, it's not a bad effort and with a bot [that is a typo, but whether it should be "bit" or "lot" is an interesting question] of training I should be able to dip below 20. Here's an idea: I'll work hard on the training for a few weeks to maximise the chances of a PB and then do the next Parkrun, which will be no 50. In the meantime I can volunteer.

After the run, walking back to the car park with the volunteers, Simon the race director drops back and walks alongside me. He explains that he has an injury, and I notice a limp. Automatically I reduce my pace. I think any runner, acutely conscious of injuries, would react the same way, but it's a little anecdote that might come in useful someday, when I am writing.

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