Sunday 14th October 2012
We scraped the ice off the windscreen and drove from Cholsey to Henley through a faint mist and a totally blinding sun. It had been a fairly wet week but it looked like it was going to be a great cool sunny morning for the run. Grit and I had been invited for dinner with the Halsalls on Saturday evening. We took the high risk option and accepted. Not that the food would ever be high risk, it is always amazing, but normally the main course gets served just after midnight and the alcohol can be, well lets just say, generous. Amazingly, we ate scumptious pasta at 8.30 pm (a personal best for John Halsall) and only had one beer! Honest! It was good to see Jack and Ella on top form.
There were about 1200 competitors in the races and we got parked just before the mad rush. It was well organised although the distinct lack of Ladies Loos caused a huge queue which must have been frustrating for some.
Grit, John, Liam and I found a position about midway in the crowd ready for the start. It was chipped timed so the fact that it took a minute or so to get over the start line didn’t matter too much. We looped around the Rugby Club grounds and then exited onto the road. The run was 90% on road which isn’t my favourite surface but it is a bit faster than running on trails. Grit was wearing Merrel barefoots and the rest of us wore trainers. We ran over the Henley Bridge then off onto a great little road heading towards the Flower Pot Inn. I was going for a negative split and only aiming to get within the 2 hour mark but it seemed quite fast and relatively easy. At the half way mark I guzzled half a gel ready for the 100m climb. I was well ahead of my planned time but felt OK and I prefer hills to flat.
About halfway up the hill I got one of my urges to go faster and started to sprint up past lots of runners but sadly I can’t sustain it for long enough and had to ease back I need to really practise more hills but because Greenwich Park has been closed this year it has spoilt my local hill training area. The hill was pretty easy and then there was a nice runnable downhill section for a few miles before getting onto the Fairmile for the last mile or so. I always like to sprint at the very end if possible but misjudged where the finish line was so I had to slow down a bit before the end. More speed practise needed! Liam had already romped in but I was pretty chuffed with my time of 1 hour 46 minutes and 35 seconds which was a personal best by a few seconds.
In fact we all did really well and we all came well inside the 2 hours we had set ourselves. We listened to the prize giving which was a strange affair because the lady announcing the prizes had to face backwards to speak into the microphone and most people just wandered off. It was a bit of a shame because I think all the volunteers really deserved a massive big clap for all their efforts. It was a great run. We celebrated at the Flower Inn, a favourite little pub near the river. Next is the Marlow Half Marathon on 4th November. It is meant to be hilly so it could be fun.