And so I found myself in my yellow and blue vest again last Thursday for the second Midweek Road Race League fixture of the season. I normally only go to Welwyn to do the Christmas shopping in John Lewis, so this felt a little alien.
As we huddled together for the start, my Garmin was merrily picking up other people’s heart rates. I wasn’t the only one who was nervous!
Rather than running round parks, lanes or along country roads, at Welwyn we were very much in a road race. This meant that there were many more spectators. I was clearly running with some very popular local runners, and felt very strongly like I was in the away team.
There was at least one St Albans Strider supporter though, a chap with his bike, and I was very grateful for his vocal encouragement. Spurred on, I tried to keep Marc and Howard in my sights, and, although I never quite kept up with them, they definitely pulled me along.
It’s all very well running a two lap course, but it’s strangely demoralising when the start of the second lap is nowhere near halfway. It took us round the Rugby Club, before we ducked though a gap in the hedge for a ‘sprint’ finish. Happily for me, loads of Striders had finished much earlier and got their breath back, so there was plenty of cheering.
The quicker runners did the Striders proud again. Tom won the men’s race again, Lucy was second in the women’s race, we won both team events again, and all 12 of our men’s A team finished in the top 30. As they say in X Factor, we nailed it.
And if it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts? Well, we won the taking part as well! There were shed loads of Striders there! Over 50 men, and dozens of women. I ran another PB, 90 seconds quicker than last time (46:46) but was placed even lower down the list of Striders, so we had real depth. Even so, I am now proud to call myself a D-team stalwart.
Welwyn Garden City, you may have a John Lewis and beautiful tree-lined boulevards, but St Albans has got the faster runners. Or at least we did last week...