Rain. All day. Heavy and prolonged. It was the Itchen Valley RR10 at 7:15pm and I kept looking hopefully out of the window while I cut and ironed forty fabric squares for F's going away to uni quilt, Every time I glanced out of the window it was raining and the trees were waving with increasing hysteria. The dogs agreed they didn’t want a walk so we remained inside. Despite all of this, I couldn’t wait for the race.
As so often seems to happen, we left the house in rain, arrived in rain, stood around at the start in rain and set off in rain. This time, because we were with the running club, there was a boisterous camaraderie present as we huddled beneath Ray’s enormous golfing umbrella seeing how many of us could squeeze under it and taking selfies to record the result. It was a healthy acknowledgement of the sometimes ridiculousness of our collective devotion to our sport. There were various impromptu versions of rain-related songs: Derek’s It’s raining men was particularly well-received and earnt a few whoops and a small round of applause at the end, and Karen’s (Club Boss) rendition of If you’re happy and you know it as we waited in our racing vests and shorts shivering in the rain at the start line, was supplemented by the rest of us supplying the claps. As a result, we were all grinning by the time we started running.
I think Itchen Valley is my favourite RR10 to date. It’s off road and goes across fields, through woods and over a short track section. I was running very steadily as I have a final pre-half marathon physio session with Steve tomorrow and getting the all-clear to run on Sunday is dependent on the RR10 going well. Because I was going steadily I loved every minute of it. I was well within my comfort zone (judged largely by how my thank you, marshals! to the hardy souls huddled in dripping fluorescent jackets at strategic places around the course didn’t come out a desperate wheezy gasp), not taxed in my breathing and only mildly sore in the knee department. I would have liked to have run a tiny bit faster, but that will come as the knee heals up and the lateral muscles strengthen. In any event, I did run up the one significant hill on the course which you do twice and, given that everyone around me was walking up it, felt good about it.
The course twists and turns, with the result that at various stages the runners further back in the field can see those at the front. Twice I clocked a Romsey shirt in the lead and recognised Dr Matt. Lynne (with whom I was running at that point) and I cheered him on madly. A little later I saw Becca running very strongly and doing the Romsey ladies proud. We waved at each other across the field. Being part of a team in a team event which also allows for individual performance is part of the fun of being in a running club, especially a friendly one like ours which welcomes everyone- of all abilities- and celebrates each equally.
I finished the 4.3 mile race just as the rain eased up, resisting M’s exhortations to sprint! Go on! You can take her! (referring to Karen, who was ahead of me), and trotted sedately to the finish in a little over 43 minutes which I was more than happy with, given that the knees survived the experience and that’s the furthest I’ve run in three weeks. Hopefully it will be enough to convince Steve that I’m fit to run the HM.
Hope you're all well.