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Sunday, 22 May 2011

The End Of The World As We Know It

Bugger. We’re still here. Does that mean I’ve got to run the Notts 10 today after all? Looks like it.

We arrive at the ends of the earth, or rather Holme Pierrepont Watersports Centre, to be greeted by an overcast sky and wind, wind and err, more wind. For those of you who think a 50 mile sportive up two quite serious hills is madness, how about two and half rather featureless laps around a rowing strip in a gale. Possibly madder?

I’ve only entered this race because it’s the event’s 40th birthday and I’m a sucker for a good birthday bash. So I’m hoping for some good ‘freebies’ at the end.

This used to be a Friday evening event but has been moved to a Sunday this year. Health and Safety I imagine was responsible for them introducing a tight time limit on the Friday race, so that nobody finished in the dark, which wasn’t popular. So it’s on Sunday this year. Still might have a darkness problem through, looks like it’s going to rain.

As ever I start too quickly, and then have to try to get some grip back on reality and my own limitations as people, generally the old, the infirm and the female, overtake me. That’s perhaps a bit unfair. This is no mugs race, it’s full of club runners and everyone is pretty quick. I do manage to hang onto the shirt tails of one of the old and run with him for a while, but possibly only because of the assistance of the prevailing wind that was behind me at the time. Inspired by this, I finally get brave enough to drop him and push on ahead, only for him to catch me up later and return the ‘favour’ as we go around the lake, turning to run headlong into the wind.

Did I mention the wind? It was so rough I half expected to see foot high waves coming towards me across the lake, sweeping away any competitors who were running too close to the edge.

It’s a shame because the race is run over a very flat course but any chance of a PB always depends on the conditions on the day, and being hunched over trying to streamline oneself against a headwind isn’t going to be conducive to a fast time.

Then it starts raining... oh joy. ‘That's great; it starts with an earthquake...’ Actually I think the apocalypse is happening here and now, wind, rain, ‘Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn...’ and what a nice place for it all to end... Holme Pierrepont, delightful. ‘It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.’ Or not. I’m singing to keep my spirits up. Classic R.E.M. by the way, if you weren't born in 1987.

Thankfully the rain shower quickly passes but with strategy number one, of following the old chap, in the bin, it’s time for a new approach. I get a hold of some eye candy who attempts to pass me, oh no you don't, just mentally not physically you understand. She seems to be moving at the right sort of pace and I let her tug me along as we start lap two.

Lap two isn’t as dull as lap one, not if you close your eyes or simply keep your head down to try and minimise the drag from the headwind. When I next look up the girl is still there and we stay together for the majority of the second lap, we even move up the field a bit, then she drops me like a stone with a mile to go. Perhaps I annoyed her when I didn’t wait for her after the last drinks station or perhaps she was just better than me.

I stagger across the finish line muttering, ‘deary me, that was a challenge’ or words to that effect. 1:13 again. Three ten milers and the same time on every one... I am handed a tasteful 40th anniversary mug and a rather fetching (depending on your point of view) bright orange 40th anniversary T-shirt. I will wear it with pride and sunglasses.

I head back to the car, fetch the boys and we bark L across the finish line.

Then home for some R & R, a hot bath etc, a quick listen to the conclusion of the relegation roulette at the bottom of the Premier League (why do they bother with the top?) and then it’s down to the Wheelhouse for a late Sunday lunch.

(Sunday 22nd May)

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