Someone tell me if these epistles are boring; if so I'll make them shorter.
Conditions: <10 deg C (felt chilly), dull, light winds
I was up for this one - set on going for a sub-37 time, which I felt was a real possibility following the performance in the difficult Mersey Tunnel 10K. So up, in fact that my HR was racing away even in the gentle warm-up jogs.
"New Start - New Finish - New Race" said the blurb. Well, a check on the map of the course revealed a figure of 8 course with a short clockwise 3K loop, followed by an anticlockwise 7K loop, over 80% of the same course as before. And yes - they'd thoughtfully retained the climb up the hill from the Shropshire Union Canal for the last kilometre.
Start took place on the road but was just as congested as I remember from 1999 (my last time here). Lots of jostling as we got away - I was on the 2nd row and runners streamed past on either side.
Almost certainly started too fast despite this - I could see ahead of me some Wirral AC runners who are normally a bit slower than me. As I'm a lousy judge of pace in the early stages of a race, I tried to use them to set my own pace. Trouble was, they were slowly going away (where was that 1K marker?), yet I was feeling uncomfortable. Past the 2K marker in 7:09 - faster than I wanted, but didn't appreciate at the time how much faster. And still being overhauled by other runners at regular intervals.
Missed the 3K marker somewhere near the zoo entrance - was looking to see where the family were (they hadn't bothered to come out of the zoo!), but knew I was struggling. 4K in 14:41 - about where I wanted to be - but not off a heavily positive 2K split! Even now I still felt uncomfortable, and it was slowly dawning on me that 37 mins was now a hopelessly optimistic target.
We then entered the middle section of the run where we run over, parallel to and back over the M56. Hit the 5K marker in 18:30 - but no way was I going to run the second 5K in the same time. The climbs up and over the bridges, small as they were, got increasingly sapping. 6K in 22:26 - didn't bother to try to work out how far behind schedule I was.