Thursday, 31 July 2008

What a runner does when he doesn't run

It's been a long time since I tarnished this wearied page, for which I apologise. I shall try to apply myself weekly from henceforth. It's been a funny year. The miles have been few, but they have been pleasurable. And there have been some unexpected outcomes.

First, there was the Brandon half, in which I was placed second vet. Then there was the Stansted 10k. Guess what? I scraped home in a miserable 40.59 (official time), 12th overall and was placed ... second vet. No prize this time.

Then there was the Stathern 10k, on 22 June 2008. Once again, the preparation could have been better. I was staying with Sean and Meike (a few days before they became parents ... more on that on another occasion), and we had a very splendid dinner and drank far too much. I could barely face getting in the car the following morning, and Sean and I did our usual routine of talking down expectations. It was a glorious but windy morning, and I was pleased at the discipline I showed in not throwing up at the start. It's a very attractive course through countryside and village, with a couple of significant ascents. The wind was a little heartbreaking at times, but I came in in a little over 39. The finish line was over a very short footbridge (not really a bridge, more a 3' platform) stepping into the finish tent. It's an odd finish, as it didn't encourage you to sprint into the darkness, and there wasn't much room to decelerate. Sean arrived a couple of minutes later.

We collected our lurid, lurid green polo shirts, and headed off to Langar Hall, where -- and then I knew we weren't in the south anymore -- the management allowed us to use the shower in one of the guest rooms, before we sat down to lunch, courtesy of Sean's dad Malcolm, a noted gastrophile. Langar Hall is a country house (1837) turned into a hotel with an excellent restaurant. As an end to the race and a recovery strategy it was a cut above the Stathern Beer Festival. There is a splendid garden, and the walk to be had there takes in the village church, whose former rectors include Thomas Butler, father of Samuel (Erewhon) Butler.

The results were posted on the internet a week later: 39.21 amounted to 9th place, and I doubt there was anyone over 40 ahead of me ...

So there have been some good moments in this strange, non-running era. But something has troubled me in the intervening weeks. These results aren't great, but coming in second vet as a matter of some consistency suggests that the racing is better than the clock indicates. But I have not been training. Does this mean that my former training practices had a deleterious effect on my running? Perhaps the autumn marathon will show. In the meantime it's lovely running in the humidity along the banks of the Cam, while Mercury pants along.

J