Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun forty-three

Conditions: Slightly damp / cool / approx 8 degrees / light wind

The baby was asleep when we arrived at the downs, so I headed off to the start line and left Mrs7t and the sleeping one in the warm car.

As I was feeling good I decided that today would be a good day to see if I could push the pace a little more than last week. I started from the back of the pack even though I really didn't mean to do so - I guess it's hard to break a habit!

The start - I'm in there somewhere [photo: Richard Carter]

Once the run had started I moved to the left and tried to filter through as many people as possible before the first marshal (approx 200 metres), there was quite a bit of water on the grass and I noticed that my feet were now a little wet. I had done quite well by this point but then got trapped between a couple of other runners.

I find that when I am trapped in this way seconds feel like minutes, and it is easy to feel very frustrated. Anyway I broke through and continued my pursuit of the 21.xx, or even the 20.xx runners!

After a kilometre I could feel a very mild stitch forming on my right side, I concentrated on my breathing but kept the pace the same. I pushed on through the trail section and by the end had caught up with the March sweatshop monthly prize winner, Carlos. I had been pushing hard so didn't have enough puff to say any more than 'con.. gratu.... lations'.

Just before two kilometres I reached Graeme, I was still out of puff and my stitch was slightly worse. We exchanged a few words and could see this week's eventual race winner already had a substantial lead.

Neck and neck [photo: Richard Carter]

I pressed on as I negotiated the sleeping policemen before turning onto the gravel path and past the halfway point, where I was given the time of 10:11. I hadn't been that fast for a very long time. At this pace I would easily be on for a sub-21 time.
By the three kilometre point I was just about to overtake another runner, but my stitch had become unbearable and I couldn't sustain the pace, reluctantly I eased off the gas and this week's nemesis pulled away.

I took the next 500 metres easy in the hope that the stitch would subside, normally I would press my fingers into the stitch to attempt to relive the pain. However, the stitch was high up, behind my ribs and I couldn't use that technique. Eventually the slower pace helped and although I wasn't fully recovered I decided that I should attempt to reel in my nemesis!

Throughout the trail section I edged closer to him and were neck and neck as we passed Barb, who was marshaling at the 4.5km point at the end of the trail section. I attempted to overtake but he matched my pace and we stayed locked in position, side by side.

The end [photo: Nicki Clark]

I pushed a little more, the stitch had returned, but I had no time to deal with it. How could I back off after mounting a challenge?

With around 250 metres left to go, I edged in front.

I was still ahead as we turned onto the final straight, I did not want to lose this so I did something that I haven't done in a long time - I sprinted.

I crossed the line four seconds in front of him, collected my position chip, and went to find somewhere to recover. Slowly the stitch eased and my breathing became normal.

HQ - chatting to the Trundleys [photo: Richard Carter]

My official time was 21:20. Without the stitch I would have been sub-21, but it's no good talking about what-ifs. I'm very happy with that time considering the (lack of) training. As it happens I was 12 seconds faster than last week.

Last week I mentioned that this week was significant for a streak that I have been running. This run means that I have now run a parkrun in every calendar month for 12 consecutive months. More streak landmarks are coming up in the next few weeks and months, I will of course cover each one as they happen!

We then headed to the Horseshoe for the post-run coffee, where I tried to learn some more about how the results are processed. It was nice to see it in greater detail, maybe one day I'll be the one that gets to call out 'results'!

After six hours we emerged from the pub, our bellies all happy and full of cake. We arrived back at home at around 5.30pm. It's funny what can happen when you pop out for a 21 minute parkrun!

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