England, where the traffic is sometimes vintage,
and the animals are sometimes traffic.
It was good to get away to the UK, especially for a race on Dad's 70th birthday.
First to Marlow, and cross training. Down the hill, sample beer and cider at the local brewery, back uphill again.
For the end of the run, there was a Strava segment, the "Marlow Bottom Mile", which went past my old school. 10k race pace past the 10k mark was good preparation. I posted 3rd on the segment too.
All 7 of us including my brother Colin, wife Julie and son Ethan shared a Victorian house for a week. All the weirdness you could hope for in a 150 year old structure, including horse stable style bathroom doors.
Also, mood lighting in the house to contemplate the 10k race to come 2 days later at 6pm.
Planes & Caves
Meanwhile, there were planes to watch at Dawlish beach.
a Cold War era bomber on one of its final ever flights, maybe with Doctor Strangelove at the controls.
Family Race Day
Less than perfect was the race organization, not exactly describing the start location, package pick-up on race day only, lack of road closures for most of the course and bottleneck startline.
In hindsight I should've started further forward. The inside lane had cars and vans parked in it, and other runners joining from the sides.
It was 2 lanes each way, and runners only got their 2 lanes to themselves for the first k.
I was still making my way through the crowd when I passed Mum and A-Chang.
Then Dad, nearly missing the photographers, though this is a great air shot.
The hilly section was a series of short and sharp undulations. I almost missed Ethan and Julie as I passed them just before the first one at 2k.
No longer having use of the road, I followed the lead of the guy in front squeezing between a wall and signpost for a 90 degree corner.
Wow, a museum condition Cortina! The most surprising thing I saw in the race. (Brits-only joke)
The course then joined Paignton Green for 2 laps. Beach huts, mini-golf and a pier. Trumping all that for quintessential Englishness, however, was the waft of fish & chips with vinegar drifting over the beach. God Save The Queen.
Also on the lookout for rogue pedestrians, a lady/ lemming with pushchair tried to cross right in front of me. Somehow I kept my language clean, merely announcing "Bad decision!"
The return leg brought a long uphill grind for the second last kilometre. The slowest part of my race, I wouldn't be getting a second sub-40. A little annoying, as without gradient and traffic, 4 minutes and under per k had not been too difficult.
I was still passing people at the end, at near 5k race pace. The last guy I passed said, "What? Oh, alright."
In my GB top and the day after Mo Farah got the first of his 2 golds at the World Athletics Championships, a Mobot was in order.
Still, all that is a very distant 2nd place to enjoying a shared family race. I wandered back down from the finish line to wait for the others.
Colin came in at 56:30, I waved him through as I was waiting for Dad.
Crossing in 58:37 to the sounds of Happy Birthday, he made it look like he was going to do a celebratory swan dive off the nearby cliff.
Pub dinner: I had fish & chips, because..
Dad blew out his candles to top off a fine day. Both of us took up running after (indirect) advice from doctors. When I suggested this race to celebrate his 70th, he took all of 5 seconds to agree.
Next day we went full English.
A steam train ride to Dartmouth featured in the Agatha Christie Poirot mystery "ABC Murders" to start.
Recovery & Discovery
First run since the race.
Paignton zoo in the afternoon, animal magic.
Surreal English scene.
Hills, Hills, Hills
Torquay is all about gradient.
A big loop along the coast after the beach, then childish laugh at sign.
So English, Again
When thinking of England, how many have the following in mind:
22km at 4:25 pace for my weekend long run, back in Marlow. I had a route planned with parts I both did and didn't know.
Other home bases
Saint Mary's Stadium opened in 2002, but I was seeing it for the first time. Not really A-Chang's thing, so she played cribbage on her phone (she won).
Marlow Bottom Mile
For my last trick, I decided to attack the Strava course record for the Marlow Bottom Mile.