In case you were inclined to think that I'd hung my shoes up on the bedroom wall (now there's an idea) since that last bout of muscle spasm, let me report on last Sunday's outing. I thought I'd avoid a decently long training run this weekend, so decided to limit myself by racing a half marathon. The East Cambridgeshire Half Marathon (=13.1 miles) started at 11:15 on Sunday, in the car park of the Soham sports centre (Soham is a village near Ely). It ended, for me at least, at 12:44.47 in same car park, to the sound of the worst band I ever heard. It was sunny and windy in an east anglian way (I think there were probably hills around this place once, they were just blown flat) as we wound our way along various country roads between real, bona fide farms, with barns, tractors and all. There were about 250-300 runners in all, the usual mix of haunted, hunted, stunted and overfed. There being none of the London-style crush, we were able to string ourselves out in an orderly fashion: it was the first race I ever ran which didn't involve dodging the overenthusiastic who'd set off at a 6'00" pace, or who had decided to put themselves at the very front at the start, on the grounds that they'd never run a race before and thought they might be really fast. In fact after the first half mile I passed a total of four people, and three people passed me ("people" is a euphemism: I didn't see any women after the start line -- in fact if I got a sex change today maybe I could start pulling in prize money ... [Ed.: actually it doesn't work like that -- there's been some interesting research into transexual athletes]). One of those latter people, a member of the Great Yarmouth Road Runners' club wearing a nice purple vest, got about 50 metres in front of me before he hauled over to the side of the road and started vomiting. That gave me a real boost.
I hit the finish line in 89 mins and 47 seconds, a pace of 6'51" per mile; I think I was twenty-somethingth. The band were, I think, playing "keep on running" at that point -- I almost kept on running in the opposite direction in order to get away from the noise, but was glad I didn't as I was then given a nice little medal with a picture of a bunch of skinny men wearing vests running through trees. There are no photographs as no one came to watch. It's a lonely business.
runner no. 197