Well gor blimey guv'nor, what a spiffingly gorgeous morning it was to be sure, along the Thames between Twickenham and Richmond. I was wearing shorts. I've ditched the lycra leggings as the air temp is such that makes one feel as if my legs are suffocating in this weather. I wanted to do 8K today, by way of a stepping stone to doing 10K later in the week.
"Well why didn't you just do 10K Dan? You klutz!". I hear you, dear reader, but I like doing things in mentally do'able chunks. Having run regular 5K's on holiday and another one last saturday, I decided that doing just one 8K before the 10 would put me in a good mental place. Because let's face it folks - "10K....IS A LONG WAY!"
I started off going slow and steady and told myself to stay at this pace the entire way through. However, there was an "incident" that appealed to my competitive nature around the 3rd and 4th K. I had just reached the riverside at Twickenham when I heard what I thought was a bike behind me. A cursory glance over my left shoulder revealed it was indeed a lady runner who appeared to want to pass me. We seemed to be going at the same pace as the gap between us stayed at about 6-10metres for what seemed like ages. For some STUPID reason I thought "She aint passing me!". So I stepped on the gas a tiny bit to try and increase the distance, thereby destroying her mental state as she battled to pass me. On and on we went, at one stage she disappeared down a side alley then reappeared again just as I was passing her "re entry" to the road. Her tactic to pass me had failed and I felt myself doing a little "Dr Evil" laugh - "Muuwaa ha ha ha!!"
I stayed in front, my pace faster than I really wanted it to be but "sod it" I thought - "Maybe this bit of competition is good for me. Keeping the old legs going and my brain feeling positive". Ahead of me the road split into two - one way was a path that went around a children's playground, the other was straight on. I chose the straight on one, SHE took the other one. I knew that the other way would intersect with me in about 150metres, where the two paths became ONE once again, alongside the Thames. I'd taken the children's playground route many times and remembered that it was exactly the same distance as the route I had decided to take this time, so I stepped on the gas knowing that she would be doing the same. How silly eh? But there it was - I was being childishly competitive and did not want her to get in front of me!!
My speed now was way too fast and I was burning valuable energy which really should be used to complete my 8K plan. I turned right towards the river and noticed the pink top of the lady runner coming through the playground at a fair old pace. Would we intersect and crash into each other? Would I get there first and manage to keep in front? She was about to join the Thames path - "Damn it!" I thought. "She's gonna get there about 20metres before me! Bol****s!"
By the time I'd reached the Thames path she had already gained about 20 - 30 metres ahead of me and was tonking along at a pace I just could not match. I started to get a stitch. My breathing got heavier and my legs were swearing at me like a docker ; "You stupid **ck**g, tw**! What the hell was all that sh** for? We're both cream crackered and for what? Stupid ******* idiotic b*****d!!!"
I had to agree with my legs. They were right, of course. The whole 8K plan had been thrown out the window in a silly attempt at trying to save my male ego from being beaten. Pink Top woman disappeared into the distance and as I went along slowly trying to regain energy levels, I realised that by each corner I got to, she had completely GONE! How did she maintain that speed? The only thing that gave me a bit of a boost was seeing a woman I'd once dreamt of going out with in 1996. She was walking along with her man and she looked like a goddess - even still! She didn't notice me thank GOD.
Anyway, I managed to get back on track, but by 6K I was struggling. I was so stubborn, I decided to just keep going and not stop for a walk break - I had to keep going to the end. 7K came and went. The last kilometre beckoned and somehow I got some breath back and some energy and managed to reach the finish line with a bit of a flourish! No-one clapped. No-one cheered. People went about their daily business and couldn't have cared less at this sweating 51 year old geezer who was feeling quite pleased with himself as he walked briskly by.
But the main thing is - I DID IT! If I'd not tried chasing the Pink Top woman I might have done a better time, but never mind. 48 minutes is just about right for me for the 8K, with 5K coming in at 29'45.
So the moral of this story is - if you have a plan - STICK TO IT! Otherwise your legs might use some fruity language at you.......
Happy running folks!