Saturday morning and according to our beloved weather forecasters the mercury is set to rise steadily throughout the day. I'm out of the door at 8am and it’s still a chilly five degrees (yes Celsius). Unlike me, however, the sun didn't have a lie-in and is already burning bright.
Seven to eight mile tempo is today’s treat and I've decided on the "not quite as far as Sommeries Castle" loop. However, in a break with tradition I'm to run clockwise. This has the advantage of hitting the big climb after three miles, when I’m nicely warmed up, instead of three minutes when I'm still running like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The first mile is flat. Perceived effort is 7.5. Yet it takes me 7:08. Oh – no. Not another tempo effort – tortoise speed run! But the next two miles are sub 7 reinforcing the value of a decent warm-up (well more than this morning's two minutes).
Then, three miles in and it's a right turn onto Copt Hall Road and almost a mile of uphill. It's not too bad at first and I'm able to hold good form. However, as it steepens towards the top I revert to running like my Disney nemesis. But 7:40 for the mile is OK. I'm half-way through the run and it's now (almost) all downhill.
I hold steady 6:53 pace for the next two miles as I motor through Peters Green before dropping down to Kimpton Bottom. So far so good. But now it's the climb up to Sauncey Wood. Not too long. Not too steep. But the legs aren't pleased.
Then, hurrah, the final decent. It's shorter and steeper than Copt Hall Road. My legs spin at 200 RPM to get me down as quickly as possible. A quick check of my Garmin at the bottom and I'm relieved to see the time lost on the earlier climbs has been recovered.
I will average sub seven minute pace after all. The tortoise has been banished – at least for today (he’ll be back).