This morning I took part, for the first time this year, in a club handicap. It was a 6.1 mile race around Eccup Reservoir, north of Leeds. Here is a route map. Having a slight cold I didn't expect too much and certainly didn't plan to run too hard as I was also going to run the 6.6 miles back home to Otley.
Setting off with Huw Illingworth we passed the first mile in about 5.55 (about 30 seconds quicker than I would have liked). Huw was always about 10 to 30m in front of me for the first two miles but it became obvious that he was slowing quite a bit so I pushed on in front ... and continued pushing all the way round.
Finished with a time of 38:24 which means that that the final five miles were run at about 6:22 per mile (my target time for the entire race was about 39:30). I was well chuffed to beat that by over a minute - and to win the event too. Full results are on the Otley AC website. Also pleasing for me was the fact that this was my fastest time on that course since the year 2000 - well before my ultra running days.
After a few minutes recovery and a drink I put on three extra tops and a warm hat (the temperature was probably about 15 degrees C at this point but in Brive the temperature is not likely to fall below 14 degrees C. For the entire 24 hours. So a period of heat training is in order ... as used successfully in the 1960s by marathon runner Ron Daws (and also the walker Don Thompson (?) when training for the 50km event at the Rome Olympics of 1960).
And also by more recent ultra distance specialists such as William Sichel.
Anyway, the 6 miles plus home in the early afternoon sunshine saw one or two strange looks from passing motorists and other people out in shorts and T shirts enjoying the sun. Still ... I'm sure my body got a lot out of the experience which will be repeated with increasing regularity as the big race approaches.