This morning ( I love running early in the morning), I decided to go for a long run. Ten miles in all: into the nearest town with a loop back home. Target time? 1h53 or exactly 7 minutes per km. Now, I've run this distance and further twice before. I knew I had the distance covered. That wasn't the point of the exercise. No, my previous lengthy adventures had been deliberately plotted over mainly flat ground. It was time to step things up a bit. This time I decided to take on the mighty St Anne's Road...
The opening 5k is takes me up to the local leisure centre. It's a country road and the only real test is surviving the motorists that drive some of the blind corners way to quickly. Ironically, I too set off, a as usual, too quickly... 6.34, 6.20.... Never mind it would be time in the bank for what was to follow. Past the leisure centre is the first test. A moderate uphill climb of just under 1km. I've done this one several times now and today was definitely my best attempt so far. I've taken the advice of several folks here and maintained my cadence and reduced my stride length. It worked! I kept this kilometre under 7 minutes. Confidence was building.
The next section I was really looking forward too. About 4k or so mostly downhill in more or less a straight line. The sun was on my back, the birds were singing, I was in good form and I loved every second. Now, the problem with nice long downhill sections is that once you reach the bottom, you have to come back up. I was now moments away from the daunting prospect that is St Anne's Road. I had now covered 10k. There was still over 6k to go and before me stood my nemesis. An unrelenting 4k climb. At least they relayed the Tarmac a few months ago. Smooth and no potholes, but this place takes no prisoners.
This is not a race, I told myself. Shorten the stride, hold the cadence. Pick out regular targets and reach them one after another. The sign post, the big tree, that rather awfully kitsch statue of a Tibetan Monk on someone's front lawn. Anything, anything to divert the mind. Keep it going. Half way up and I reach a turn in the road. I permit myself a restrained and very English minor fist pump. A blind bend approaches. What kind of sadist puts a blind bend half way up a hill? I have to change to the other side of the road to make sure I can be seen. The end of the hill is in sight and I'm just 2k from home.
A look at the watch... 1h39... Bang on schedule, I can do this. The last 700m are downhill. Time for the big finish. I break out into what I feel is a sprint, but with 9.5 miles in the legs, I doubt it was much more than my usual 5k pace. At 10 miles I hit the stop button on the watch. 1h52.22. Inside 7 minutes pace for the full journey. I was ecstatic.
St Anne's Road had been tamed. However, it didn't give up without a fight. I am sore and will spend the rest of the day recovering, but boy, do I have a big smile on my face!