Only a week after my disaster at the Ridgeway I had a race booked in. Originally with Sue Byrne and Cookie, Sue pulled out owing to injury. My plan was a non-competitive recovery run. The week had gone reasonably well with a hard but productive week at work. I drove down to the start on a blustery but sunny coastal crispy day. Bumping into some familiar faces is more of a regular occurrence than not and the start line in sunny Margate was no exception. It was a pleasure to catch up with George at the start. George is having an amazing year of running.
Off down to a windy start and I hooked up with a slightly nervous Cookie with his dad and bumped into Sue who had had a gentle trot down from her weekend flat in Broadstairs just up the road. The field was packed and we aimed to head off about 30-40% back from the front. George went off with his crew from Orpington Road Runners with Cookie and I settling into an early but fast-ish pace. A switchback partway to Margate along the Parkrun course and it was off up the hill past Joss Bay and the hilly coastal path to Broadstairs and then Ramsgate. I saw Peter Johnson marshalling.....I think he lives round these parts. Sue bimbled with us for a mile or two then cut off home. Our glorious forst 6 miles was punctuated with an "I need a shit stop" from Cookie. That came out of nowhere. I knew a public bogs from a training run with Sue a month earlier. I watched most of the field go past as I waited for captain shitter. We had a laugh and knew that this was a jolly up and not a competitive run.
Slightly lighter than before, Cookie made some speed up, with us chugging along to Ramsgate and the turnaround point. This event was well supported and I encouraged Cookie to take up some jelly babies that were on offer. I necked a gel and in no time we were at half way stages. Cookie slowed. I was chatting away, looked around and he was gone. I stopped. Waited. Then we continued our conversation. Cookie drafted like a cyclist behind my broad-shouldered frame and we repeated this chat, stop, wait a few more times. Spotting a runner that I knew I called out...What have you been up to? "Oh the usual" Whatever that meant. As we traversed the promenade at Margate about 2 miles later, chatting away, I turned around and Cookie was probably a fair few hundred yards behind. I knew he would understand.
I necked another gel and went for it. Our leisurely 8.30s pace, plus the 10 mins of shit stop and waits felt like a launchpad to bang in some faster miles. The last 10 miles I averaged 7.30s but that included the into the wind stuff. The big turn around felt like forever around a nice beachside estate. It was head down and knock out the last few miles. Feeling very good I caught up with George with a mile to go. Despite our slow start, a 3.45 on an undulating and windy course was pretty fine. George came in a couple of mins later, with Cookie in about 30 mins later.
Will definitely do this next year.