Runners society race
9éme 10km du Bagnols sur Ceze - Dimanche le 10éme octobre 1999.
2 weeks later we went away for the weekend and ran on a much faster course in a classy race for this part of the world. Money changed hands on the outcome of this race! This was Shelley's last race in France before she had to return to England.
Bonsoir toute le monde
Tony and Shelley back in Montpellier after a nice weekend of touristing and racing. Yesterday lunchtime we headed off east from Montpellier to see some local sights. First stop was Nīmes, the next big city after Montpellier around here. We had some lunch and then checked out the local branch of "Decathlon" which is a chain of sports supermarkets. It was HUGE, the biggest sports store we have ever seen, whatever your sport was they would have had something for you, I'm sure if Tony had looked hard enough he would have found the cricket section :-) In spite of the store being so big the running section didn't have that much in, there is a better choice of running clothes at the running shop here in Montpellier. We managed to escape with our credit cards intact although it was very tempting in there. Then we went nearly 2000 years back in time to the 1st century AD Roman Arena in the centre of Nīmes, this was VERY impressive, the guide spoke sufficiently slowly and clearly in French so that we had some idea what she was saying. The arena is still in use today for bullfights among other things! Back into the car and off to the little town of Bagnols sur Ceze where we were to race the next day, we found a nice cheap hotel and had an early night (we aren't as tough as Cary is with her 4.00am wake up for a 8.30am race).
Next day, race day. We weren't the only runners in the hotel, there were some runners from Italy at breakfast. We found the race very easily as the hotel was on the race course and we just followed the arrows on the road all the way to the race HQ. We managed to enter the race as "licences" as we are members of a club in England. In France you either have to have a licence to do any sport or have a note from your doctor saying you are fit to compete but it looks like this doesn't apply to non-French athletes, we waved our Spectrum Striders membership cards at them and they gave us our numbers, only 40F (£4.00, $6.00) each. We also got our goody bags as well, no t-shirt at this race, instead everyone got a towel and a bottle of local wine (what would you expect in France?). Two bottles of wine for Shelley as Tony doesn't touch alcohol, at least the towels will be useful. The race started and finished on the cinder track around the local football pitch so we did a bit of jogging round the track to get warmed up then we lined up for the race, "licences" got to line up at the front. This was quite an important race as it was the championship of Languedoc-Roussillon, the region of France where we are living. It was also a qualifying race for the French national 10km championship race. Bang and off we went, 1 lap of the track to start before heading out for 2 laps of the town.
Tony's race: It was rather hectic on the track, there were about 300 runners, things started to settled down a bit once we got out onto the road and I started to work my way through. 1km in 4.32, a bit slower than planned although there was a very strong wind blowing and I got held up a bit at the start. Got going properly after that and gradually worked my way through, 2km in 8.43/4.11, 3km in 12.59/4.16, 4km in 17.09/4.10. The course was pretty flat if rather twisty running down a few narrow back streets. Back to the stadium at the end of the first lap, 5km point on the track reached 21.20/4.11. Feeling tired by now and my left leg was sore as usual but I was going faster that I thought I would. Off the track and back onto the road, just as I pulled away from the stadium I could see Shelley coming in on the opposite side of the road, I gave her some encouragement as we passed. Off out round the town again, tough going into the wind, 6km in 25.40/4.20. I managed to pass a couple of runners around here but we were well spread out by now. Just after 6km I could see the race leader on the other side of the road looking pretty good, he was around 8.5km. Round the town, managed to pass a couple more runners but it was getting very hard, 7km in 30.00/4.20. Got to 8km in 34.20/4.20 and I just caught a glimpse of Shelley on the other side of the road just under 1km behind before the course diverged. Kept pushing hard and managed to pass one more runner at 8.5km, 9km reached in 38.36/4.16 when suddenly a runner dressed in a long sleeved shirt and tights zoomed past me as if I was standing still :-( At first I thought it was a fast runner on a cool down run but I saw him finish, it got very hard in from here. They marked the 500m to go mark which I reached in 40.44, really hurting now but I wanted to break 43. Just as I got onto the track another runner came by, slogged round the track as fast as possible although it felt like I was running through treacle. Into the home straight and the clock said 42.3x and I crossed the line in 42.46/4.10 last km, positive split of 6 seconds, oh well. Very tired on finishing but that was a good run, about a minute faster than I thought I would do although still 3 minutes slower than my last serious 10km 2 years ago before I fractured my left knee. Shelley has got me fitter than I was before I arrived in France. Through the finish funnel where we had to take our race numbers off for the results people and were given loads of race entry forms. As I finally escaped from the funnel I could see Shelley coming onto the track. I am getting ahead of myself, now here is Shelley's race report.
Shelley's race: 4:53, 4:42, 4:48, 4:49, 4:44, 4:49, 4:48, 4:51, 4:49, 4:30, for a total time according to my watch of 47:47, not a pb but close and the fastest I have done in quite some time. I hadn't run a 10k seriously in quite some time, so rather than aiming for the best possible time I could do my aim was to break 48 without killing myself, and I did. My planned strategy was to run the first half in 24 and see how much I had left after that. With less wind I might have been able to get a pb with that strategy, since my pb is rather soft, but already when we were warming up I could tell that the wind was going to make that more difficult than planned. Funny thing is, when Tony was describing this race to me as a flat course the only thing I could think of that could go wrong was that it was going to be blowing a gale. But with it being in the center of town we thought we had that one covered, too, because it would be sheltered. Probably that did help, but it was still windy. Well, so what, 48 was supposed to be a very easy goal, so I should be able to do it even with the wind. I was very conscientious in this race about starting too fast, because I have done badly on too many races from starting out too fast, and that combined with the usual beginning shuffle got me off to a start that was a little slower than I have planned. I knew this right from the beginning when it took me 2 minutes to get around the track, and there was also a bit of hill in the first k, which didn't help either. After that I made up for it and by the third k had settled into pace quite well, and it was just a matter of keeping it up. When I got to 5k in just under 24 minutes I was feeling pretty good about things, but with the wind feeling like just keeping up the pace would do me. But by 8k I was feeling pretty tired and also knew that I had been gradually losing a bit of time that I was going to have to make up and was beginning to worry that I might just do something disappointing like some kind of daft time like 48:01. I was partly counting on being able to make it up in the last k, but during the 9th k has this dreadful fear of getting to the end of it and finding that I needed to do the last one in something under 3 minutes, so I tried very hard to not lose any more time in it, but I still lost 1 second. By 9k I wasn't really sure how much I needed to make up, but I still suspected I had a chance at it, but my motivation was flagging, and the thought of stopping right there was a lot more appealing than continuing. So I became very aware that pretty much the whole fate of this race was dependent on that last k, so I really pushed myself to get motivated, but 1k started seeming like an incredibly long distance, and I started telling myself that I would really go for it at 9.5k. I don't know what time the watch said at 9.5k, but I know that it was after 45 minutes, because at 45 minutes I was trying to get myself going by telling myself I had an urgent appointment at that finish line and had 3 minutes to get there. I got to 9.5k not too long after that and it still looked possible for me to do it, but it was nowhere near in the bag. Even in the finishing straight I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but as I saw the finish line clock with the minutes in the 47s (I think around 47:30) I took off like my life depended on it, and I made it!! 47:47!!!
When I saw Tony he told me that I owed him a Franc (in the spirit of Puckett and Larcher we had a 1F bet, Tony gave me 4 minutes to finish after him, it would have been very interesting if it had been 5 minutes!), but I just congratulated him and didn't care, because I was so happy to have broken 48. And do you know what else I did? If I had been French I would have qualified for the national championships (similar to qualifying for Boston, did Tony ever mention that he qualified for Boston?), because 48 minutes is their qualifying time for ladies 40-49, according to Tony the male runner finishing just behind me asked if I had qualified. The only thing that bothered me about it a little bit is that if I had run it just 17s faster it could have been a pb. Oh well, without the wind I could have done it. I seemed to be jinxed with windy races these days. Don't let me go to a race that you want to do well in, I seem to bring wind with with me.
After the race we went to Avignon to see the Pope, unfortunately he left there over 600 years ago, oh well maybe if we had run the race faster :-) For various political reasons the Pope didn't live in Rome in the 14th century, he ended up in Avignon instead. After lunch we went for a tour round the Papal palace which was quite impressive although possibly not the best thing to do after a hard race. Up and down lots of stairs and all the impressive rooms looked the same after a while, still some beautiful views of the city and the famous "pont d'Avignon" when we finally got to the top. Pictures will appear in Shelley's photo album before too long. As you can tell it has been a really looooong day, time for bed zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Shelley Walsh and Tony Bell
Shelley Walsh Shelley@shells.demon.co.uk
Tony Bell Tony@shells.demon.co.uk email@example.com
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