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I blogged my race plan a few days ago: 5 k at 5’30″ / km pace, 3k at 5’20″ pace, 1k at 5’20″ or faster and then a hard final kilometre.

I had two aims: the pre-announced 55-minute plan and the secret take-your-5k-time-and-double-it plan. My Garmin was set to pace me to a 55-minute finish but would allow me to go 10 seconds per kilometre faster without telling me to slow down. This could potentially put me 80 seconds ahead of schedule with 2 kilometres to go. So keen was I to get a good time that I spent almost the whole of the last week on light exercise duties only. Coupled with the suspicion that I might be able to manage the last 2k at 5 minutes per kilometre, this could see me laughing.

Pre-race I had been concerned: the forecast was for heavy rain, then sleet, then light rain, then overcast, then light rain, then heavy rain. Frankly, the Met Office would have just done better to stick a load of question marks over Sefton. What we got was a chilly light drizzle with, mercifully, next to no wind. The start was delayed due to congestion at the park and ride which gave me time to bump into jaks at Race HQ.

[Edit: thanks jaks] Picked up my race t-shirt, which I would suggest might be best kept for training runs on dark evenings in unlit locations. It is ghastly. The front is just about ok in an American Football sort of way. The back is a riot of excessive text and sponsors’ logos. [/edit]

Making my way to the start, I noticed what looked like enormous opportunities for early congestion so hung back to try to ensure I could run from the line. As it happens, the start was at the top of the biggest hill Southport could offer so I got off to a flyer and before long was being told to slow down by my electronic companion. A quick check of the systems suggested my right lower leg was less happy than my left but otherwise all was good. I was slowly passing people (including the chap wearing the ‘personal trainer’ t-shirt).

On the second kilometre I hit traffic and lost twelve seconds. The samba band didn’t help. They sounded great but their rhythm was, to my mind, about 20 bpm too slow. I’m glad they were there though: Southport seafront on a grey and drizzly February morning doesn’t offer the most inspiring views (although the sight of the Big One and Blackpool Tower in the distance always makes me thankful that I’m not there).

Various cadet types were about cheering us on. The marshalls were, without exception, smiling and encouraging types and I soon stopped feeling worried about the cold. I even removed a mitten.

The staff of Chiquito’s were out in force under a gazebo as we continued to the far end of Marine Lake and the halfway point. The only noticeable breeze of the race hit as I turned south-east past Princes Park and, as I looked at my Garmin, I saw that I had completed those first five kilometres at an average pace of exactly 5’20″ per kilometre.

Mental note: you’re now 50 seconds ahead of schedule. Dawning realisation: you feel great.

Without changing my pace, I notice that my Garmin is now reporting an average pace of 5’09″, so I’ve actually been slowly accelerating for 3 kilometres. I decide to keep this up but resist the temptation to run any faster. Possibly I relax a little too much as I complete those next three kilometres at an average pace of 5’13″. I’m not exactly worried though as I now realise that a sub-53 minute finish is very much on the cards.

I pass a chap running in a pumpkin morph suit. “Does it make for a good running kit?”

“Apart from the breathing it’s great!”

Maybe I’ll not suggest Fetch Morphsuits to Lord Fetch.

After the 8 km marker I accelerate. I’m aiming for around 5 minute pace but, really, running on feel by now, essentially aiming for something akin to the same feel as during the Big Fetch Mile. And then a chap says to me, “I’m sticking with you to the finish line.” I’m struggling to see as my glasses are now covered with drizzle.

9 kilometres. My Garmin stops showing me my average pace and switches to heart rate. Simple plan: if your heart rate’s less than 170 bpm for this kilometre then you’re not working hard enough. 500 metres to go. Just one corner. And nobody’s passing me. I’ve lost Mr Sticking-With-You but can hear gasping behind. I’m not gasping. If he’s gasping then I’m going to gasp. Fists clenched. Eyeballs out. Let’s go. I’ve no idea how quick I’m going but I’ve a suspicion that I’m slowing down. I will sprint to that line. I see the clock. It showed 2 minutes and something when I started.

It’s now showing something that through the blurriness of not wearing glasses looks like 54 minutes. I put my glasses back on and really do sprint now. Astonishingly, almost as soon as I’ve grabbed a goody bag and banana I receive the following text:

Maddog 10K Luke Bosman Time-00:54:54 Pos-897 Chip-00:52:34 Rank-824 Cat-MOPEN CatPos-395 see all times at www.chiptimes.biz

Superb! That’s only slightly more than twice my 5k PB. Next plan: run 5k in less than 25 minutes.





Writing a short story, in less than 500 words, in under an hour, and starting with a totally blank canvas isn’t easy. But it’s fun. Maybe I’ll do this more often.





I’m not entirely looking forward to this coming week. I’m supposed to be tapering in preparation for the Mad Dog 10K a week on Sunday for which I’ve set myself a target of 55 minutes using the highly scientific method of ‘take your 5K time, double it and then add a bit’. I rather fear that I my go mad.

This morning I was assigned to the role of co-runner to Tiger as AKG had some mad idea that she might go for a PB while my plan had the words ‘recovery run’ attached to it. Tiger said she wanted to go for a PB too, so I thought I’d act as pacer.

Tiger and I

Β© Podkin from Fetch

I’m glad I wrapped up warm as Tiger had not taken her PED. We started off on target, with Tiger going a smidgen quicker than necessary for the first kilometre. Then she started to slow and we were four minutes behind schedule by the middle of lap three. This isn’t an issue really since, as far as I’m concerned, the key for a 9 year old runner is to finish the run with a smile.

The smile was fading, though, as we rounded the penultimate bend by the riverside so we tried positive visualisation techniques. “Imagine you’re Jessica Ennis”, I proposed.

“But I’m not,” Tiger retorted.

“OK. But you can pretend you are.”

“No. I’m not Jessica Ennis.”

We did sprint to the finish though. Tiger beating me by a second or so as I suddenly noticed that I needed to tie my shoelaces.






You may recall that I was nervous of this race. It’s January. A month which I could quite happily spend in bed. I signed up for this just after the Preston 10 Miler in mid-November having discovered that 10 miles is enormously achievable with the sort of training levels that can be squeezed between taking Small to Cubs, to keyboard lessons, etc. Honestly, the sooner that girl learns to cycle on roads the better.

Somehow a half marathon seems more than 31% bigger than 10 miles. I suppose the fact that, before signing up for the 10 Miler, I had accidentally run 15km in training whereas, up to today, I had never run more than 10 miles helped me to be a little anxious. The weather forecast from earlier this week of heavy rain contributed too.

Early night last night. Well, I was in bed that side of midnight rather than this side. Carb-loading with a bowl of muesli. Race bag filled with a variety of different layers. Alarm clock set for half past seven. A ridiculously mild night found me still awake after midnight wondering how to get less heat into the bedroom.

Alarm clock goes. I leap out of bed about an hour later after a pint of coffee, having noticed that the five-day weather forecast had been quite wrong: it’s overcast but dry. Wonder what layers to wear, decide to leave the winter shell off but go for tights. Can only find one glove so decide to go without. My running shoes have been in the car all night since I would be truly annoyed to realise that I had forgotten them. I drive through fog to the car park which, now the fog has lifted, is enveloped in a low-level mist.

There’s a park and ride for the race, which is nice. I get on the double decker, go upstairs, looking for the back seat and find it already part occupied by SmileyBob and friend. We have similar target times: they intend to be half a mile ahead of me by the end. Sign-on at Catforth Village Hall is swift and efficient, although I’m glad I didn’t need to deal with the lengthy queue for the women’s toilets.

Race start is ten minutes up the road from the village hall so I break with tradition and actually warm up a little before the race. We line up on Bay Horse Lane, where I meet XB, and a few minutes later are off. I have two race plans: the first being to run negative splits, paced by my Garmin, leading to a final half mile of letting rip. The second is to run negative splits, paced by my Garmin, as far as the 10 mile drinks station which appears to be at the Hand and Dagger pub, stop for a pint and a spot of lunch and then have a relaxed trot back to the village hall.

I abandon both plans. Run somewhere between XB and SmileyBob seems a more appealing plan. I run with SmileyBob and a few others from his club a little faster than conversational pace before I start to slip backwards around the three mile marker, 27 minutes into the race. Shortly afterwards I latch onto two runners from Bradford who are attempting 13 halves in 13 months (plus a marathon). We have a pleasant chat about cycling, about running and about the flatness of the course for several miles. We are soon joined by a fourth runner who offers us jelly babies.

I reach 10 km faster than my PB time, not entirely surprising as that was set on a hilly course. More surprising was finding that my running partners could no longer keep up as we approached nine and a half miles. I was more than a little motivated by having realised half a mile previously that I was well within my 10 mile PB pace. As I hit the ten mile marker I heard three cheers behind me. Cheers folks! That’s about a minute and a half off that time.

As pointed out earlier in the week: a half marathon is simply 10 miles plus a Parkrun. Time to start slowly reeling people in, or at least to stop allowing people to disappear into the distance. SmileyBob seems to have decided to form a solitary Fetchpoint at the Hand and Dagger. I decide to give the pub lunch a miss. I would be lying if I claimed that my legs felt strong by this point. Yes, I have fuel in the tank but my hips and heels are beginning to protest. A grumble of goats, who had apparently helped to spur the lead runner on earlier, line the righthand side of the road around eleven miles. I’ve been gradually reeling people in for a short while.

Before I know it, I’m upon the 12 mile marker. I grin as I realise that I’ve got fifteen minutes to complete this race in order to hit my target. I could walk that but it would be more fun to run it. I try my legs and they’re quite comfortable. There’s just the little issue of a motorway bridge to conquer. Flat though the Fylde is, they seem to like making the bridges steep. A couple of runners who have already finished tell me the end is just around the corner. It is.

I go. Six runners are between me and the clock. I can’t reach two of them but the other four are fair game. One. Two. Three. Now sprinting. The fourth chap moves slightly to the left as we reach the funnel. He beats me by a second. But the clock reads 2 hours 5 minutes and something. That will do nicely.

Southport 10k is next month. I hope to set an official PB at that one.





This morning’s Parkrun was my slowest ever. I achieved an age-graded score of 35.42% just behind a first timer who achieved 45.98%. The course was in places a little crunchy underfoot. I wanted to be in bed still and was probably over the drink drive limit still after last night’s work-related festivities at the Living Room on Deansgate (exceedingly good food, including the most succulent duck I have ever had the pleasure of eating). I may even have been a little grumpy with AKG for having volunteered to be Numbers in spite of my hangover having been on the diary for at least a month.

The first timer was Tiger, whom some of you will have met at the Big Fetch Mile last month. She announced before I had opened my eyes this morning that she wanted to do Parkrun today. And why not? We couldn’t find her barcode but reckoned we’d get away with it as we regularly volunteer and she’s cute. Simple plan: start at the back and stay there or thereabouts. My guess was that 40 minutes would be a reasonable initial target. She’s nine. She’s not run more than a mile ever, as far as I know. Before we knew it, the word ‘Go’ had been shouted slightly too quietly and the backrunner was trying to overtake us. I’ve not started at the back before and was surprised at how fast the bunch set off.

Tiger saw the hill up ahead and spoke of walking up it. That sounded fine to me as I wanted to be sure she could finish the run. She ran up the hill but did have the decency to be a little breathless at the top. We kept talking, my thinking being that ‘easy conversational pace’ might be helpful. We ran the first lap and a half before it seemed as though Tiger was tiring so we had a short walk during which I encouraged her to try slowly jogging instead. Soon, she began explaining how much more comfortable jogging was as she lands on her tiptoes. This developed into a really quite surprising talk from a nine-year old girl on the benefits of forefoot striking.

The final lap was comfortably upon us now. This time Tiger really did walk up the hill, at least until she decided to sprint up it. The encouraging voices of passing Parkrunners became the encouraging voices of runners who had finished. Small picked up the pace a little before walking a little more, each walk break having a defined target (“I’ll just walk to the next tree”) of her choosing. We agreed to sprint to the finish. Tiger picked a point from which we would start our sprint and then we gave it our all, finishing together (although the history books record that she beat her dad by five seconds).

38 minutes and 10 seconds cannot be bad for a first 5k.





Apologies to anyone who was looking for my ARF in Hutton at 1140 this morning. It appeared a little over two minutes earlier.

Race plan was simple: runΒ negative splits, paced by my Garmin, for the first 9.5 miles. Then let rip.

The race started withΒ a minute’s silence in memory of John Rayton which could, in honesty, have been better announced as most of the marshals had no idea it was going to happen.

I lined up at the start and found myself right next to Jaks and Smiley Bob. As the gun fired the field spread out quite smoothly, unlike at the Preston 10K where there was a bottleneck within yards of the start line. I went off too quick and was swiftly chastised by my pacer whom I grumblingly chose to heed.

After about two miles I passed a small crowd gathered round a fallen runner. It didn’t occur to me (qualified First Aider) to check whether any of those who had stopped to help were also First Aiders so please don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’d ever be any use to you in the event of emergency.

The course is pancake flat in the sense that there are a few little bumps where the geology of west Lancashire got too close to the frying pan and I continued to find myself being told to slow down. I kept arguing with the Garmin, stealing the odd three or four seconds per kilometre.

Soon I was running down the Longton Bypass: Two miles of not very exciting dual carriageway with convenient cycle path. This lead to the end of lap one which arrived surprisingly soon and with me feeling surprisingly strong.

For the next two miles or so I increasingly outran my pacer, so comfortable was I. The second running of the Longton Bypass soon arrived. I gradually picked off runner after runner, astonished that noone was passing me, until a youngish female runner came alongside and tried to pass. I matched her pace for pace. The nine mile marker passed, I sped up. Garmin soon told me I’d done nine and a half. I increased as close to 5 min / km as I could. “Slippery corner” was four bends before the end. I dropped Youngish Female Runner and soon caught up with Struggling Female Runner. “Come on! You can do it!” I shouted to myself. Struggling Female Runner thought I was shouting to her and she sped up, offering to race me to the line. So I did.

Out came the ARF, just in time to bump into Neil who I’d met on a campsite in Paris in the summer.

Two more corners. Give it everything.

Legs now weigh more than they ever have but somehow I kept them moving, mentally cheering myself on because none of the assembled buggers were cheering me. (They might have been, to be fair. I just was forcing myself too much to hear them.)

Final bend. Sprint.

Four people between me and the line. I could beat almost all of them. Every part of my soul is called into action to do so.

Manage to remember to stop the Garmin just after the line.

One hour. Thirty seven minutes. Thirty six. Point nine nine seconds.

Next: a half marathon.





I’ve had a cold pretty much all week, have had aching muscles, a sore throat, you name it. So, sorry Fetchies, if you feel ill in the next few days, blame Astrakhangentry as I got it from her.

We picked up Hamsterboy and Zoom after some fun trying to give them directions from wherever they were inside Piccadilly Station to wherever we were outside the station. One would have hoped that whoever we blame for these things these days might have managed to put up signs to the Pick Up and Drop Off car park. But they didn’t.

We were among the first to arrive (if not the first) which gave us just enough time to deal with the complete lack of cash machines in Sport City to ensure that, by the time lots of other Fetchies arrived, we were carb-loading with paninis and chips.

It was fab to see a number of people who I’ve previously met at Parkruns and a good few to whom I’ve chatted online over the last year since I first delurked.

I’d explained my race plan to AKG this morning. Stick in third place for as long as possible and aim not to get lapped. I had predicted a time of 7’48″ a while ago, before realising that that time came from the end of a run the beginning of which had been up a big hill so I decided that 8’00″ would be a more sensible aim.

I also know that I can run Preston Parkrun only a little slower than Smiley Bob (to whom I will be forever grateful for the friendly push at the Preston 10k just as I was about to give up) so I watched his race in the group one faster than mine with interest.

Anyway, the blue group were called to the start line. We started. We were called back due to a dead timer. As IronMum pointed out, it could have been worse. It could have died on lap 7.

Lap One felt comfortable. I was forced to slow down by the fear of emulating this

http://www.youtube.com/v/10Qys5W-aKE

on the bends and I was quietly pleased to hear that I completed that lap in 58 seconds. Another, comfortable, 58 second lap followed then another. Crikey. That’s consistent pacing and within my target.

Lap Four felt hard. My legs were beginning to feel heavy and then I heard that the elapsed time was 3 minutes 40-something. Ah. So that explains the difficulty of the first middle lap.

We were still running in a bunch and I overheard someone suggesting that someone needed to break free of it. Two of us did. The chap in front looked like a stronger runner so I tried to tuck in behind him, only to lose a few paces on him on the bend.

I put in a little dig to see what was left in my legs and caught up. Feeling pretty comfortable still. Breathing reasonably good.

Then I got a bit confused, I knew we were on lap 5+x but couldn’t figure out the value of x. I think I heard Homer suggesting that I could catch the chap in front. So I did.

I heard the bell and thought I was told that this was the final lap. So I ran. Past one person. Then another. I got to the back straight and ran harder. Then had a horrible thought. What if I’d misheard? I was now sprinting with all my strength towards a board that still clearly read ’2′. Help! Have I got another lap to go? I looked beyond the finish line. Baubles! Nobody else has stopped. I’ve cocked up. I’ve another lap to go. Oh. Cock.

As I pass the bell, I hear in my left ear a number preceded by the word “Finish”. So I do.

I really hope Bob was talking to me.

Turns out he was. There was a reason nobody else had stopped. Nobody else had finished. As I plummet to the ground I realise. That means I won. That means I won in 7 minutes and 30 seconds. And I could have started my sprint a bit earlier.

I run because the alternative is the black dog. Right now, I feel like a champion.

YES!





Some time ago, I signed up for the Lancashire Hotpot cyclosportive, an 85 mile pootle from Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, via Longridge Fell, the Trough of Bowland, Jubilee Tower and the Ashton Memorial, Lancaster to Stanley Park, Blackpool.Β Link (roll over me to see where I go)

All started well, I set off with several others who helped set a quick and clearly unsustainable average speed over the first 25 miles of about 19 mph. The wind on Blackpool seafront was significant, at more than one point I needed to try rather hard to keep the bike upright but otherwise it was pleasant.


The first feed station was in the centre of Longridge. Nobody wanted to hang about for long as the forecast was for heavy rain. Get this out of the way was essentially everybody’s plan. Having stocked up on Soreen and had a wee (making the schoolboy error of forgetting to remove gloves before putting the soap on my hands), I began the interesting part of the ride. For those who don’t know Lancashire, it’s essentially flat to the west of the M6 and hilly to the east.

The rain started. My schoolboy error was no longer significant. The views from the top of Longridge Fell / Jeffrey Hill are normally delightful. Last Sunday, visibility was measurable in yards. The descent, which can be as much as 1 in 5, is tricky at the best of times. Fortunately, it was at this point just a bit damp.

Almost the entire field appeared to take the left turn for the short route at the bottom of the hill. Along with a few others I chose to persevere with the medium route. The heavens opened somewhere between Whitewell and Dunsop Bridge. The descent from the Trough of Bowland on which I would normally be getting annoyed at motorists’ insistence on holding me up was hairy. By the time I got to Jubilee Tower, which was just about visible a few metres from the road, I wasn’t sure whether I could see better with wet glasses or without them.

On a sharp left turn somewhere between Quernmore and Lancaster my bike decided it would rather go straight on than keeping to the path of the road. Fortunately, nothing was coming the other way. 23mm of tyre, descending through torrential rain, doesn’t give a lot of grip.

On reaching the second feed station at the Ashton Memorial, I am quite sure that I was as wet as I possibly could be. Keeping moving I was warm enough. I wasn’t going to stop for long.

Mercifully, the rain relented as I started the final 25 miles to Blackpool. Unfortunately, there was one of the fiercest headwinds into which I’ve ever ridden to confront. 25 miles of it. Utterly unrelenting headwind. Without so much as a hedge to provide any shelter.

And then, with 5 miles to go, the heavens reopened. A band was playing at the finish line to an audience of none.

In other news, as I’m still banned from running I’ve volunteered for Preston Parkrun tomorrow. I appear to be timekeeper. Isn’t that, like, a bit of an important rΓ΄le?





We’re away, staying with my parents for the weekend, so Preston Parkrun (which, bearing in mind the flooding up there, I’m amazed to discover took place with nary a nalteration to the route) was out of the question today.

Fortunately, Walsall Parkrun is only fifteen minutes drive away and I managed to persuade my favourite runner, Astrakhangentry, to join me for her first Parkrun. She’s been running with Sweatshop Chorley a couple of times now and had set a target of 45 minutes for a 5k.

I hoped simply to improve upon last week’s 26’56″ by ten seconds or so, reckoning that Walsall’s relative flatness would mean that I’d lose less time going uphill but gain less time going down.

Walsall Arboretum is pleasant but is not quite as scenic as Avenham Park. There’s no river to run past, the most significant feature of the loop is a rather annoying muddy bank about three feet high and the start, rather than being a majestic Victorian viaduct, is a municipal bin. The people are pleasant although nobody was wearing a Fetch shirt. Mention was made at the start of a need for more volunteers (if you’re nearby, please do) then we made our way to the start line.

My first significant observation was that the path was quite narrow. I wanted to start somewhere near the middle and guessed that AKG would rather start towards the back. As the run began, I noticed that possibly as a result of the numerous holes in the path, it was quite hard to pass anyone at all.

As in previous Parkrun efforts, I’m fairly sure I got my pacing quite wrong. I intended to keep to a pace of around 5’30″ / km for the first couple of laps before speeding up on the last lap. Instead, I did the first kilometre in 4’52″, wheezed the second kilometre in 5’07″ and for much of the second lap made a mental effort to slow down.

That paid off with two slower kilometres. At the end of the second lap I was pleased not to have lapped my wife and also pleased not to have been lapped by anyone else.

Lap 3 began. The plan had been to speed up for this lap but my phone was telling me that I was ahead of schedule and that I had an average heart rate of 165 bpm. I elected to carry on roughly as I was. With about a kilometre to go I found a small pack of runners and tried to use them to pace me home. I couldn’t quite keep up but I did manage a final kilometre only slightly slower than 5’00″ again managing to sprint to the finish.

At my first Parkrun in May I was chatting to a chap who told me that he had done lots of cycling but had never really understood pain until he took up running. My lungs were now reminding me of this. After a little while getting my breath back, I started to keep an eye out for AKG, reckoning that she must be going well as I hadn’t lapped her.

To my surprise she appeared quite swiftly. The time being only 9:38am I knew she had beaten her 45 minute target. I am incredibly proud now of the effort she put in to finish in 35’40″, significantly faster than she believed she could go. I will one day talk her out of carrying that flippin’ water bottle round.

My time, by the way, was another PB: 25’56″. Exactly one minute faster than last week’s Preston Parkrun.





We’ve been decorating Small’s bedroom while she’s away on her holidays so I’ve been keeping to my MiCoach training plan religiously (i.e. mostly when it fits in around everything else but definitely on Sundays.)

Astrakhangentry and I ran with the Sweatshop Running Community on Wednesday. She had set herself a target of completing 5km in 45 minutes and appeared to be struggling after the first couple of kilometres. That was when I felt obliged to point out to her that she was not obliged to run quite so quickly. I next met her, grinning broadly, back at base where she was happily reflecting on having completed 5km in less than 40 minutes.

One day I’ll manage to drag my favourite woman along to a Parkrun (maybe next weekend in Walsall) but this morning she expressed her joy at being woken up by the seven o’clock alarm with the words “Turn that radio down.” As I gathered my running kit from its three carefully prepared piles in various parts of the house, she carried on laying some laminate floor and commented that, what with the wind and the rain, today probably wouldn’t be the day to beat my PB of 28’05″.

The weather did not appear to have caused any significant reduction in Parkrun numbers. A bit of pondering left me thinking that I’d be fine in short sleeves and indeed I was. I had an idea of which runners from my previous run I wanted to keep tabs on in order to improve on my time but could not see a single one of them so, as the starting whistle blew, I set off along the riverside at what I thought was a gentle jog. My legs felt rather leaden and I really was not sure I’d be able to maintain even that pace. It turns out that I’d set off doing just slower than 5 minutes / kilometre.

The first climb of the now legendary hill comes after 400 metres. It took me a minute to struggle up it with legs that just wanted to stop but I knew not to worry too much as I could recover on the gradual descent through the park. Other runners were passing me. This was hard this morning. Grimace for the camera.

A glance at my watch told me that I finished the first lap within nine minutes. Maybe I’d gone off to fast and the wind from the east was strong along the riverbank. No part of my second climb of the hill could have exactly been described as a walk but the pace again felt leaden. I didn’t feel that I had the strength to keep the pace up but I gave it a go, managing to leap the sleeping policeman on the descent.

The blue-clad Bosman strides manfully past someone else.

Β© Podkin from Fetch

I chose not to look at my watch at the end of lap two, for fear of putting myself off, but it did occur to me that unlike the previous time I had not yet been lapped. This led me to believe that, maybe, the reason why this hurt so much was that I was running faster than I had ever done before.

A small group of us paced each other up the final climb, the one woman among our group of four appearing to sprint the last fewΒ stridesΒ up as I reminded myself that this was fun. A chap in a grey t-shirt had now been exchanging places with me for a few minutes so I chased him down past the sleeping policeman (no-one wants to be the person in the background of a race photograph after all) and he passed me again soon after, managing to pull ten or so metres ahead.

We were now into the final straight. I tried to catch Grey T-Shirt, managing to pull alongside him just in time to reach the finishing bend. I sprinted. He sprinted. My legs gave up as I realised that there were probably five metres still to run. I stopped my watch but couldn’t read it clearly as my running glasses exist for pose value only. It looked like I might have finished ten seconds ahead of my PB. My day-to-day glasses made it look as though I had finished rather quicker so I made a mental note that it might well be eye-test time.

I’m still elated. Knocking 69 seconds off my PB is a great feeling, particularly with such a wind to contend with.