My running club, The Cambridge and Coleridge Athletics Club, particpates in a summer 5k league with three other local clubs: Newmarket, Saffron Walden and Haverhill. Each hosts a 5k race on a Thursday evening. With an elaborate scoring procedure, each event has a winning male and female team, and this results in a winning male and female team and a winning club for the league. It's a nice event, better since Haverhill decided to hold theirs in Kedington, a nice village a few miles from Haverhill, which makes Peterborough look like Florence. And though Haverhill became my PB course last year, it certainly wasn't on account of the friendly local teenagers shouting obscenities between sniffs from their paper bags.
The Cambridge 5k last month saw a welcome comeback. Last year, when I was seriously fit and on the road to Berlin, I ran it in 18:20 (though I was running a fever for several days after, which may have affected that time). This year, when I am fat, slow and uncommitted, I ran it in 18:24.
A few days later I went running with my friend and fellow Miltonist Edward Jones. Edward is an advertisement for the beneficial effects of running. He looks about 45, is seriously fit, and confessesto being in his late 50s. I am genuinely and pleasantly surprised. Edward once ran Boston in 2:40. I would be interested to know if there has ever been a faster Miltonist, or an early modernist for that matter (I know of another 2:41 man). Edward is bemused by my PB of 18:06, and tells me that I don't run like an 18-minute man, suggesting, with an extraordinary air of confidence, based on years of experience at the track, a somewhat faster time. I like friends like that.
Last week was the Haverhill / Keddington leg. It was hilly and windy. The first 2k were more or less continuously uphill, and the first 500 metres were pretty sharpish. It was an attractive run, however, and I was perfectly content with 19:09. Though that brought me in 18th, which seemed a long was down the field. There are some fast people in the league these days.
Which brings me at meandering last to my point: again my times haven't fallen as much as they should have, given the shortcomings of my training (and the long-absent principle of fairness). So have my training patterns been useless? Or has the experience of divorce and single-parentdom over the past nine months merely raised my pain threshold? I would be interested to hear if there are any studies on the relationship between divorce and athletic performance. There must be some funding for such research with 2012 bearing down upon us.