Monday 26 January 2015

Pounding the pavement

When folk from outside London think of Peckham, images of Nelson Mandela House spring to mind.  In fact, like most of the capital's suburbs, the area has been somewhat gentrified and is home to Peckham Rye Parkrun, a flat, winding run through an Arboretum and over the River Peck.

It was at this location on a cold Saturday in January that we three competitors met up for the first time since our New Year's antics.  All three of us were doing well, with Adrian and I setting PBs regularly, and Tommy having equalled his best time of 21 minutes dead just the week before.

So tension was high; it was unlikely that the pot would be won today, but someone could set down a strong marker.  We lined up at the start with 114 other runners, like greyhounds waiting for the traps to open.

The starter released us and we stormed off.  The pace was quick, and we would not be able to sustain it, but the adrenaline was pumping.  40 metres after the start, and Adrian was two paces ahead of Tommy, who was two paces ahead of me.  We were in the leading pack with 5 or 6 other runners all jostling for position.  This was shaping up to be an exciting race.

And then: disaster.

In front of me, I saw a tangle of legs.  Tommy had got caught up with another runner, he stumbled...and then recovered...and then stumbled again.  Seconds felt like minutes, as Tommy desperately tried to keep his footing, but to no avail.  His knee was the first thing to hit the ground.  His knuckles followed, as his hand went down to prevent his face hitting the tarmac.  A quick roll, and he was on his back, facing the oncoming runners.

I stopped to help him up (along with other runners).  Notable by his absence was Adrian.  He had sped off, taking full advantage of the chaos.  He was later quoted as saying: "I knew something was going on behind me, but I thought: 'There are plenty of other people who can deal with it', so I kept on running."

Tommy's war wound no. 1
Unsurprisingly, Adrian went on to record the fastest time of the three of us. In fact it was the fastest time that any of us have ever recorded, the first time any of the three of us have run under 21 minutes.  It was a hollow victory though, as he will forever be remembered for abandoning his friend.  Strictly speaking, he didn't break any of the rules of the competition (you can check the rules here), but what price integrity, honour and companionship?

Tommy's war wound no. 2
Tommy recovered to run 21.46, and I finished a minute behind (blaming it on a mix of my good samaritan work with Tommy, and the five pints of beer the night before).

The Road to Sub 20 competitors; with my future wife (who also ran a PB)
So, in conclusion, pantomime villain Adrian is in pole position, but who knows what Tommy would have recorded had he remained on his feet.  As for me: must try harder.

Saturday 24 January 2015

New Year: Prosecco and Parkrun

So after Christmas, came New Year's (as is traditional) and I suppose we should let you know how things progressed...and only three weeks late!

As it happens, Adrian, Tommy and I all spent the week surrounding NYE together.  You may have images of some intensive training camp at high altitude; in actual fact the opposite was true: a week in the Cotswolds consuming wine and cheese.  Of course, we were not there alone.  The group totalled a dozen people, and it didn't take long for the three of us to bore everyone who would listen about the latest time we'd posted and (in my case at least), the series of unfortunate circumstances that meant I wasn't as fast as I should be.

The gang out for a wintery run in the 'Wolds
And of course, the competitive element continued with two opportunities for Parkruns while we were there.

The first of these was on New Year's Day itself.  Despite the epic board game sessions late night revelry of the evening before, Adrian and I headed out into the rain to try out Chippenham Parkrun, a nice, but extremely muddy run alongside the bank of the river Avon.  Spurred on by his heroics over Christmas, Adrian stormed home in 22.25.  Despite registering my second sub 23 minute time a few days before (at the beautiful Whitley Bay Parkrun), I could only finish 80 seconds behind.  Given the conditions though, we were both pleased with our performance.  In case you were wondering, Tommy spent the morning in bed.

The following Saturday, all three of us made it to Cheltenham Parkrun, where the New Year's resolutions were clearly underway as an enormous crowd turned up to pound the pavement.  In truth, the course was not designed for quite a turnout, and the narrow pathways got clogged.  Adrian took full advantage, and got ahead of the crowd early, to cross the finish line in 21.49.  Tommy and I finished well behind, and left bemoaning our poor tactics in not getting to the front early.

So the winner of New Year and Christmas: Adrian Dracup.