Thursday’s run was replaced by spin so out Friday lunchtime instead. Conveniently Niall was also free and looking to run so we arranged to do a mid-tempo round the Hare & Hounds route. He also brought along a few of his JPM running buddies just in case we were tempted to take it too easy. Julian looked "normal" but Alan and Mark where built more like elites. I was beginning to wonder what I’d let myself in for.
We set off along Victoria Embankment at a reasonably steady 7-minute/mile(ish) pace. Alan and Mark upfront; Niall and Julian gassing behind; and me somewhere in the middle. Waiting to cross Whitehall I looked back to see Julian joining us but no Niall. I assumed his dodgy foot had forced him to stop and so stuck with the JPM3 as we crossed the road, went through the arch and onto the gravel parade ground. So you can imagine my surprise to then see Niall hot footing it some 20 metres ahead. It turned out the crafty sod had taken a "Kenny Special" shortcut that allowed him to hit Whitehall higher towards Trafalgar Square and cross while we stood round at the Horse Guards Ave junction like lemons waiting for the traffic to clear.
Heading up Birdcage Walk we were all pretty much together. However, ever conscious of Niall's superior road crossing technique, I made sure I hung in close as we came up the short sharp incline to at the top end of St James Park to The Mall. The tactic worked a treat allowing us in but a few strides to catch Alan and drop Julian and Mark. Round Green Park anti-clockwise I stayed with Alan on the drag up to the tube station but not wanting to blow-up so early eased on the bumps to Wellington Arch.
Back down to The Mall, Alan was tanking and it was all I could do to keep him in sight. Across Horse Guards Parade, over Whitehall and in no time we were back on Victoria Embankment. Less than a mile to go and with the wind filling my sails the pace stayed high. Fearing Mark and Julian were catching I daren’t look back and just kept going knowing "The Bollards" couldn’t be that far away.
Finishing time was 32:56 which Niall graciously conceded was pretty good. Alan finished about a minute ahead while Julian was only about 15 seconds behind and catching quickly having stopped when Mark pulled over with an injury. Niall hobbled in perhaps a minute later – I can’t remember. On any other day I might well have finished 5th but today lady luck was on my side.
So much for mid-tempo - that was full on flat out - I was whacked.