It was a warm night. Not warm enough to be sultry. There was just enough of a breeze to blow 300 or so runners into Newburn for the River Run, a 6.6mile 'delight' of tarmac and rough track up and down the Tyne. Half the family were there running, so I was on my best behaviour, warming up, no ipod. I was meditating on my impending performance like I meant it. I had written down 3 words that I wanted imprinted into my head and sat in the car staring at them. This would be how my run would be. Anything within the top 30 or under 40 minutes would be fine, I mused.As we surged away at the start under the trees beside the brewery with a small crowd of onlookers present, I was aware that there were more than a few nemesii (plural) out there around me. I needed a decent run to show that last week’s 10k was just a blip. I soon caught up with two clubmates after a kilometre. The pace was pretty quick but I felt reasonable and eased into the group and sat in. I was, it had to be said working pretty hard though and I was monitoring my breathing. After a while I heard the voice in my head at 2 miles saying ‘you’ll never keep this up for 6 miles...’.and then another one said'..and this race is longer than 6 mile'. Some sort of mental double act. an act I could do without. I was matching the first lady, Jane H, step for step, but not for long.
The 3 mile mark arrived quickly, mostly as a result of my attention being focused on the rhythm of the Birtley's runner's feet and trainers in front. We were knocking out 6 minute miles which, these days, is at the top end of my ability for anything more than 5k.
After crossing the bridge and heading back down the Tyne on the other bank I began to toil. I tucked in behind an Elswick runner and was passed by three. My resolve was fading. I kept repeating the mantra I'd learnt in the car 'flow..smooth...breathe', but somehow in my state of exhaustion it had become ‘slow..smooth...beer’. I struggled between 4 and 5miles where an Alnwick runner came past and pulled away without a by-your-leave and the Elswick runner who I'd been clinging on to took off with him.
But over the pontoon bridge at 6 mile I rallied a little and began to feel a bit better (probably cause I could see the end) and held on for the last stretch past the houses and back into the car park.
30th and 40:13 (6:06/mile). This is the 3rd time I’ve ran Newburn and had ran something like 39:20 back in 2005. But I was younger then. So were we all...
And yes, I did have a slow, smooth beer at the end.