Yarnton 5 (or, Saturday night racing: what to do if you have no life)

Entered this one on the day on vague impulse: “oh, it’ll be fun, I’ll do it as a training run”. (Which is why it wasn’t in the diary: sorry, L!). T’other half + me get our gear on and trundle up to Yarnton (a small village north of Oxford).

We notice:

  1. It is not a big race – < 100 people I reckon
  2. It is (oh yes, that) part of the Oxon AA County Champs, and therefore…
  3. Pretty much everyone else is a fit-looking club runner

For a few minutes we were facing the prospect of racing each other for last-but-one place, until a couple of ladies not in club shirts (one had a rather fabulous skeleton vest!) and who didn’t look fast, and who, moreover, were not fast (well, they said not, we asked them!) turned up. We would have run it anyway, mind. You have to have the sporting spirit, don’t you?

More worrying was the almost total absence of any Amblers (my local club). John said, “Look, there’s a wicker man set up for you over there across the playing field – the other Amblers would have warned you to stay away… if you weren’t second claim!”. But it was a bit spooky actually – loads of clubs except… (but it wasn’t a wicker man, it was a Children’s Play Item!).  Happily I spotted – at last – a fellow Ambler in Race HQ. Far too fast for me to be likely to know him but I said hi anyway.

“Oh hello, it’s you two!” he said. (I am – as you can tell – a bit rubbish with faces).
“… you don’t recognize me without the greyhound, do you…?”
(I was now even more confused as normally that’s my line).
He then mentioned his dogs name and we realised that we were dogwalker friends not running friends. All was now clear. We exchanged some dog chat and off he went (he had, of course, finished, got his t-shirt, said hi to all his mates, and gone home, before we finished!).

So. We lined up tactfully at the back of the pack, and therefore took, ooh, at least a few seconds to get to the start line!
As it was “just a training run” we had time to admire the scenery – which varied from chocolate-box village & fields to a stretch through a rather spectacular gravel works (cool!) – and to enquire after a runner (quick Internet stalking – Witney’s Ian Fowler, who I recognized from him overtaking me in several previous races – he has very recognizable legs which I normally see disappearing off ahead) who took a tumble on a speed bump (he was OK).

However, I was feeling OK, trotted on, and started following a “little old lady” ahead. Not as easy as it sounds, because… see points 2 & 3 above. I could have slowed down (but really, at “jog” pace I might quite honestly have come last!) but I remembered that all my 5 mile races previously had been done just after I came back to running, which meant that my 5 mile PB (official) was really really soft, which meant I should forge on and I would certainly beat it.

Which I did, I think. And I have a new red t-shirt too. And a 5 mile tempo run at HM pace under my belt. Just because I have nothing better to do at 7pm on a Saturday….