Conditions: dry, sunny, ~15 deg C; light-mod N wind
not that any of the above would be relevant in the Kingsway Tunnel! - but at least one of the above factors would be very significant in the latter part of the race.
Start 10.00 - far too early for me! - meant I had to be up at 6 to get a decent breakfast down in time.
Arrive about 0920 & spend 20 mins in the huge queue for the inadequate 4 portaloos. Give up & head for a spot behind a parked car like lots of other blokes. Strip off & hand over bag of gear to be taken to other end of course. Still got 10-15 mins to do a few strides thankfully.
A nice wide start line means I get no probs starting from about the 2nd row. Away we go, threading our way down various back streets en route for the tunnel. Try to get a fix on my exact position going round a corner & nearly lose my footing as a result - probably about 30th. Thru 1K in 3:30 - faster than I should be. HR also is already nudging 170, I note in passing. Ignore these inconvenient observations and down a slip road onto the main tunnel carriageway.
We've got a good mile of descent now, so relax into some sort of rhythm & track the group just in front. 2K in 7:02 - consistent pace if nothing else.
Occasional chat echoes in the tunnel as we descend. Suddenly a wheelchair racer hurtles past, making the most of the gradient. 3K in 10:32 - wow! this IS consistent. But there's the bottom of the tunnel looming up, and soon the dreaded climb out begins.
It's not so much the gradient itself, it's the length of the climb that takes its toll. Halfway up, we pass the wheelchair racer, now struggling to propel himself at any sort of speed. Tunnel exit in sight at 4K - passed in 14:19 - the pace is dropping - and HR is creeping towards 180 as I try to hang onto two orange Rivacre vests just ahead.
Out of the main tunnel shaft, but the ascent continues towards the distant toll booths - mentally v difficult. Sharp left, exit off a slip road and finally the summit is reached. Totter down to the 5K marker and past in 18:55 - hmmmm! last 1K in 4:36????- it was slow, but not THAT slow.