There’s a definite pattern emerging with running and this blooming shoulder. Try and push out of the comfort zone and end up with a disappointing result and a sore arm – slow and easy gets much the same result without the disappointment and a slightly less sore arm. Unlike last year, when it rained a little, this years Chalgrove Festival 10k promised to be a proper Bank Holiday scorcher. So I applied a good layer of sun-cream and left myself plenty of time for the 10 mile ride there and arrived with a vague intention of finishing under the hour but not if this meant any excessive huffing and puffing.
I had no trouble passing the spare 40 minutes after I’d picked up my timing chip. The festival was already starting to build up and I went and had a look at the old cars and the huge Merlin helicopter in one field. Then a visit to the vintage and miniature engines chuffing away pumping water to nowhere or lighting electric lamps, should have taken a photo of the slightly surreal set-up with a vintage pump circulating water in and out of a bowl in which a plastic lady from a later era sitting in a deck chair cooled her feet. The strong, warm sunshine, the smell of warm oil and sound of early Beatles blasting out from the merry-go-round coming together to make a fine environment.
I ate a gel, drank half a pint of water, said hello to the IWCA contingent and a couple of other familiar faces then we were summoned to the start area. The Race Director announced that the starting gun today was in fact going to be some old canon and might be a bit loud. I avoided the warm-up gymnastics and found a quiet bit of field to get the blood flowing. I hung round near the back of the field and chatted with a bloke doing his first race and explained how the timing chip thing worked and how his published time might be a bit slower that he thought if it turned out to be gun to chip, I couldn’t remember from last year. We couldn’t really hear the announcer and the canon was not visible to us so we’d half forgotten about it. I think everyone jumped in unison when it did go off!
We were off, backwards down the finish straight with the beep of the timing mat confirming it was chip to chip. I started my Garmin but just had it showing the time of day with no flashing up the mile pace etc. A view people gathered to see us off, many with ‘rather you than me’ looks – good viewing as the start/finish straight cleverly cuts right through the middle of the festival ground.
Out of the field, down a tatty drive with a couple of bigger potholes marked in yellow, then onto the road where I spotted Howard who looked like he’d cycled out to support someone. A few faster runners who’d been trapped at the back passed us, I gently overtook a few gone off too fasts. By the time we’d turned into the lanes before the first mile was done several red sweaty faces were making an appearance. The forecast only predicted 20 degrees C but it was more like 25 according to my weather station when I got home. After our extended winter and recent, bitter, north-easterlies we weren’t fully ready for proper sunny weather.
We continued on, a bit of descent but a very slight headwind, I resisted getting carried along when the occasional faster runner passed and held back to be sure before passing others. I was quite warm enough and was glad of a squirt from some kids water gun as we passed through Berrick Salome. An unfortunate but appropriate earworm had taken hold courtesy of Simon and Garfunkel – over 30 minutes running left and the same 6 lines before the words ran out and someone pushed the repeat button.
Halfway and we had changed direction and were glad of the water station at Roke. I walked a couple of steps to make sure a full cup went down. Gently climbing for a mile now with a steeper bit and a false summit. Several walked, several charged up it like it wasn’t there – a few did a bit of both. I just eased off a bit, but not too much, and plodded on. A bit of sweat dripping into my eyes to remind me that a hill in the sun is always going to be taxing.
Then gently down for a good way which was welcome as I had a slightly sore foot and my arm was having a grumble. Good thing I’d not pushed my self or I might have ended up joining the ranks of run a bit – walk a bits of which there were a few complete with that ‘angry at my body for letting me down’ look. I picked up a couple of easy places but had neither urge nor energy to challenge the threesome who passed me on the finish straight. The festival was really bustling now and there was lots of cheering near the finish, this is a great race to bring your family to if you’ve got one.
I handed in my chip then, after queuing a minute, realised I really didn’t need yet another running shirt however nice so went to the water. They were struggling to keep enough full cups on the table to sate the roasting runners so I headed back to get my bottle off my bike instead managing to intercept a bottle on the way. I cheered in a few later arrivals then back on my bike for a gentle, tiring, but not unpleasant ride home. Result was 56:56 243rd of 352 – as good, maybe better, than expected.
Interesting twist back at work the next day when I wander over to the other building to see a chap who’s been there as long as me but I’ve hardly had cause to talk to. There he was wearing his Chalgrove 10k shirt – 5th over all and won his age group – well done Rob 🙂