Yesterday's Town & Gown 10K Fun Run was, as the Oxford Mail says, a big success. It certainly was for me: I raised nearly £300 in sponsorship money (or will have done when I've collected it all!); beat my previous best time by over 2 minutes; and had fun.
In the end there were only two of us from work in the race, B (the running enthusiast who has been organising the training) and me. S had been invalided out, much to his disgust, but had valiantly limped into town to cheer us on -- as I only discovered when I heard him bellow my name from the side of Parks Road. :-)
There was never any expectation that B & I would run "together" -- he's faster, so started further forward, & there was no way I was going to catch up with him! -- but it was nice to know somebody else I would be among the 3000 entrants. (I did look out for him coming the other way on the bits where the rather bizarre route doubled back on itself, but didn't spot him.) In the end, though, it didn't matter: the atmosphere was really friendly, the weather was good, I didn't get lost (!) and all in all it was a bit like going for a ramble in the sunshine. Only, um, considerably quicker.
Having finished nearly 10 minutes before me, B waited at the corner just before the finish line; when he saw me he yelled "58 minutes! Come on!!!" -- up to that point I'd had no idea at all how I was doing on the time. I knew I'd been running better than usual (more steadily, less feeling that I was fighting myself or the road, no aches or blisters) but I didn't know if that actually equated to faster, and decided not to think about it & just concentrate on finishing and enjoying it. When I heard him shout that, I knew I could get in under the hour, & was tempted to relax, but then actually saw the finish & just went for it. I heard a familiar voice yell my name as I charged towards the finish -- surprisingly familiar, because I didn't expect monkeyhands to be there, but it turned out that she and barnacle had joined addedentry to cheer me on, which was a lovely surprise.
B's time was way better than mine, of course, but I think he was more pleased with my result than with his -- I suppose I'm the first person he's coached to some kind of racing success. :-} I certainly couldn't have done it without him, I'm just glad I didn't let him down! He was even more pleased when he realised later that he'd forgotten (and I hadn't really thought through) that because I'd started further back from the starting line, the time on the clock was two minutes out from the time recorded on the chip. (Yes, your race number contains an RFID tag, and they scan you as you cross the finish line. We live in the future!)
So anyway, in fact my official time was 56:13 (only just over 9-minute miles). I couldn't believe it!
Then after the race there was plenty of space between the town and and and and and gown, as we went for a leisurely lunch in the Jericho Café and then an even more leisurely sitting around in the St Giles churchyard, before I had to head to Pembroke for rehearsal and a rousing choral evensong (Howells' Coll. Reg. and Elgar's Light out of Darkness) to stave off the post-running sleepiness.
Of course now I can't help wondering what the Oxford Decathlon would involve: running, cycling, punting, singing, essay-writing.... come on, LiveJournal, help me out here!