Worthing and I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship which started 2 years ago with my entry into the Worthing 20 mile race forming part of my London Marathon build up. The run started off well only for me to have to withdraw at 7 miles after suddenly being very sick. Then came the Worthing 10k in the June of the same year. After offering to take a change of clothes down to a good friend of mine who had spent days by the bedside of his terminally ill brother in Worthing hospital, I arrived gave him his clothes and jumped back in the car – only to get stuck in traffic and arrive at the race start just as everybody was running off. Another aborted attempt albeit in a good cause.
Refusing to be beaten, I entered the Worthing 10k of 2011 where the wind strength was of hurricane proportions. The first 5km were fairly comfortable with the wind behind, but on the turn you suddenly felt like were running against a duvet strapped to the backside of an elephant that you were trying to push forward – an almost impossible task that required maximum effort. Difficult conditions, coupled with unceremoniously tripping in the final 400m and carving up my nose in the process, you could say blew any idea of a personal best right out as far is it could go into the English Channel.
So we come to Worthing 10k 2012. Driving down and on the approach to the South Downs with the rain pouring, I find myself thinking about the up and coming race. I also find myself looking out of the window at the weather and wondering why on earth I put myself through this? It must be a combination of the desire to constantly try and push myself coupled with my natural inner competitiveness, refusing to be beaten by the inclement British weather, the roads of a sleepy Sussex coastal town or the slow repair of both my achilles tendons over the last 18 months – I’ve no doubt at some point I am going to win :D
Driving along the seafront the alarm bells start to ring. With numerous Union Jack flags – part of the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations – blustering as proudly as their beach flag counterparts and people wandering around huddled with hair standing on end, I am starting to think ‘Deja Vu’ …… its looking windy.
Checking out the new route on the course map, it became apparent that Worthing Harriers had taken the ‘thar she blows’ factor into account this year making substantial alterations. Rather than the single lap blast of the previous year, it appears we now have a shorter in length, double circuit which has no doubt been designed to remove the brunt of the full coastal forces thus making the run easier overall…in theory.
But there is just no accounting for Mother Nature. Whilst the course was 2 x 5km laps, there was no escape from that wind which gathered in pace requiring substantial mental and physical strength between 2.5 and 5km and then moreso between 7.5 and 9.5.km. From a psychological perspective I am not a fan of doing repetitive circuits because you get to know where the rough points are, with the realisation that you will have to repeat them. Worthing was no exception here. Pushing myself through strong winds from 2.5km up to the halfway mark all I could think was ‘god I have to do this all over again!’. Tougher than last year from this viewpoint.
But there were positives. Having only recently returned to running properly due to my long term injuries I surprised myself firstly by catching a fellow club member, who had had an impressive lead over me for the first 7km, secondly by my watch stats, revealing a min/mile pace a fair bit faster than I’d imagined and finally no ankle pain – all major breakthroughs for me.
…. Sure. It will be a breeze :D