Monday, 21 April 2008

It's A Conspiracy

Just got to mention that skiing in Scotland was on the front page of the Times over the weekend. We're almost at the end of April and many resorts in the Alps have already closed for the season. Yet, in Scotland, where allegedly it doesn't snow anymore, Cairngorm Mountain had all its runs open and thousands of skiers were skiing right to the bottom of the mountain. In fact they've had an excellent season; they opened on 1st December and have had excellent conditions all through January, March, and April. It was just February that was duff, which of course is when we were there.

Standing outside Pride Park on the start line for the Derby 10k, I feel I'm the only one with a hissing sound running through their head, courtesy of part shattered eardrums from last night. I'm probably also the only one humming 'The day, you move, I'm probably gonna explode' as we start, unless L is too.

I've got myself into a good position at the start and it only takes six seconds to cross the start line, the pace is fast and the 1km marker is soon approaching. With a quick glance at my watch, I calculate that I could be there in three and half minutes. Ludicrous. Thankfully it is, I've never been very good at judging distances and it takes me just over four minutes to get there. Bang on 40-minute pace, just like at Lincoln. Ah but it all went wrong there. At Lincoln I managed to keep it going for around 6km but here I don't get the chance because, along with everyone else, I miss the 2, 3, and 4 km markers. Where were they hiding them?

Thankfully the organisers have laid on two official pacers, that's what it says on the plastic plaques on their backs, to help people crack the big 40. The thing is, neither of them look like sub-40 men, and one of them doesn't even look that fit but hey, appearances can be deceptive.

Then again, perhaps not. One of the pacers drops the other soon after the first km and I stay easily with him, which doesn't seem right. I feel that he isn't going fastest enough, so another five minutes down the road I push on, drop him and go it alone. It's a good job because when I do see a marker at 5km I'm 30 seconds down on where I need to be. Some pace making. It's a conspiracy to keep me over 40 minutes isn't it.

I have to say I wasn't terribly keen on the route, although apparently it went round the scenic sights of Derby (not!) but I was generally too busy to notice. L was planning to do some window-shopping, not sure what in, most of the shops we passed had been victims of the 'Derby shopping boom' and were empty.

The city centre bit was also not at all conducive to a quick time, there were too many sharp corners which upset my tempo, not to mention some slippery paved sections. It was also a bit disruptive going up and down the kerbs, but that was just me trying to cut the corners. At least there was nothing as bad as the horrible cobbles in Lincoln.

On the plus side it was fairly flat apart from having to climb back over the bridge on to Pride Park, which was strength sapping. Then after battling your way back to the stadium they cruelly send you on a big 3km loop around David Lloyds, to make up the distance.

There also has to be a big question mark over their km marking. At 8km, I seemed well off pace having taken 4.47 for the last km but by 9km I was easily back on it having done that km in 3.27. Which, without any deliberate change of pace, just doesn't seem feasible.

The race finishes inside the stadium and finally we get there. Rammie is lurking inside and I believe the tradition is to high-five him but that could have had disastrous effects on my time so I duck that particular challenge.

I break the top 120 and as I was aiming for top 150, I'm pleased with that. More importantly I break the 41 minutes barrier, if only by 4 seconds but its still progress. Long way to go to the big 40 though. Although the general opinion seems to be that the course was probably a little over 10k and with all those slow corners, who knows.

Nigel Clough was supposed to be there greeting all the finishers but when I got there he was stood having his photo taken with his arms around the three sweaty babes who'd took the top places in the women's race. Cheers for the support Nige, but I don't blame you mate.

Someone else who seemed none too impressed with him is another girl who is stood just behind the four of them casting imaginary daggers into their backs, I assume she came 4th.

Inside the concourse there were some gentle looking girlies and some evil looking blokes offering free massages, potluck I suppose but I need to get back to see where my girl is.

L comes round the edge of the stadium on 56 minutes meaning her sub-60 is on the cards. I rush back inside to see her finish, she does really well, 59-something or rather 58-something as she abruptly corrects me once she's got her breath back, referring to her chip time as opposed to the finish clock. So she's feeling very smug after getting back under the hour and with room to spare.

Overall it was well-organised race, well marshalled and with an excellent quality Mizuno technical shirt given out at the finish.

There's a good turn out from my family, my ever-present Father was there of course and not particularly in the way for once, but even my Mother made it to this one. To top it all, my Brother turned up to support, it's just a shame I was too quick for him and he missed my finish.

Post run we take Doggo around to my folks place for a bit of a gallop before heading home. I'm expecting a chap round to give me a price for some fencing. He turns out to be quite dubious but he's on time, so that after a bacon sandwich we can share a hot bath and do a proper warm down.

Later we manage the long walk to the Fox and Crown, where both the Brush and Vixens are in very good shape. The Stout is well on the turn though, so we don't revisit that one. We stagger there due to tired legs and then stagger back because of the beer. We have a bit of a cheese thing when we get home.

28 units - bingo, spot on.

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