|Rain is alright for gardens - but not for me thankyou
A set of repetitions on Castle Hill and what should have been an easy run were my only two sessions in the seven day build-up to Kilburn's 7 mile race. The speed session incorporated into a seven mile run on Tuesday went well: 12 x 200m @ 43secs with 200m jog recovery felt fairly comfortable and I was happy with that. But after weeks of incessant rain the so-called easy run on Thursday was anything but comfortable. What's normally an enjoyable off-road route through wonderful countryside had sprouted waist high grass, nettles, brambles and various other flourishing weeds that soaked my shorts, tore my legs and covered me with mud. I stripped off in the kitchen and flung everything into the washer - including my trail shoes.
|Looking good before the race
Race day dawned sunny and warm which augured well for the afternoon start. After an 80 minute drive we arrived early in Kilburn to secure a good parking spot behind the 'Mouseman' workshop where there are clean, handy loos and only yards away from the Start/Finish line. The normal parking field was soggy and unusable so scores of cars were parked along grass verges severely constricting the narrow road.
Around 265 runners lined up for the start of the race at 2pm. Anticipating a bit of bumping and boring over the first few hundred yards of the narrow, congested street I'd lined up near the front to get an uninterrupted run from the start. It was a mistake for I got carried away a little too fast for my old legs and found myself struggling a bit on reaching the first hill in just over a mile. I kept saying to myself "slow down, relax, get your breathing back under control", but the damage had been done: I should have known better.
At least I was still running. Towards the top of the hill a girl (Helen Cowley of Kippax Harriers) was walking and sounded to be muttering words to the effect of "God, I'm hating this already" - so I offered brief words of encouragement. It must have worked for moments later she eased past never to be caught again! Unbeknown to her she became my pacemaker throughout the rest of the race.
|..and a bit embarrassed by all the fuss after the race
In the last mile she started to pull away, overtaking four or five runners and opening up a gap. I went with her but one of the group, Richard Hughes of Quakers Running Club (though he wasn't wearing their vest), decided he was having none of it and broke away with me to match strides over the next ¼ mile or so. Nearing the finish I decided it was time to cut loose but to my amazement he managed to wind me back in and beat me to the line. I believe it's only the second time I've been beaten in a sprint finish (the first being 26 years ago) and I haven't quite got over it yet. It seems I'm reluctantly going to have to accept the fact that age is beginning to take its toll.
|Having a bad day, though you wouldn't know it
After the race I'd words with the organisers who'd put me in the results as 2nd MV75 instead of 1st MV80. This was corrected in time for the prize-giving but not on the official results posted to UKresults.net. My time was 62.42 - a little quicker than 9 minute pace over the 7 miles 351 yds - and finished in 165th position of 261. My wonderful partner had a bad day (she doesn't like running on tarmac) finishing 257th in 79.50, unusually out of the category prizes though she was awarded a nice bottle of Chilean wine by way of consolation.
Next up on July 22nd is a 10K road race promoted by the newly formed (October 2011) Bentham Beagles Running Club. It's described as a scenic course with stunning views over Wenningdale towards Ingleborough. If anyone is interested they can find the Entry Form here. I'll be looking for a good pace-maker @ just under 9 minute/mile pace!