The summer seems reluctant to leave so I’d rather be running topless. Officially, though, it’s autumn and the rules today dictate that a vest must be worn; a practical demand because otherwise where would I pin the 639? Sacrificing a lazy afternoon to race five kilometres can be explained in reasonable terms – health and fitness benefits, the athletic gesture, mind over body philosophy. But attaching the running number directly to the belly? That smacks of masochism, a line I haven’t crossed, unlike the one painted across the Siggiewi by-pass road.
This was race one in a series of 5 and 10-kilometre events organised by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association and held on streets around the island. For the occasion, I rejoined the club I was in a couple of years ago when still bitten by the competitive bug – Mellieha AC. The kit was not the same as the other club members because mine was dug out of a drawer where it had been lying dormant. Neither where the pre-race sensations identical to those of previous years. I had a trace of excitement so thin that within seconds it evaporated with the rising heat from the tarmac. In all fairness, I was under no pressure whatsoever. I was here in Siggiewi merely to see what soaking a body aged half-a-century in 4 days-a-week of running could produce. Any improvement on the 23:29 of the Swieqi 5k would have been welcome. Interestingly, the metrics of the Garmin on my wrist predicted 21:16. I didn’t dwell too long on this figure because as much as I like technology, I still can’t figure out how a watch can make scientifically sound predictions.
21:11! This doubting Thomas was put in his place by the religion of science. To those other sceptics who might allege that, consciously or subconsciously, I strode off to achieve that predicted time, here is one salient fact. At no point in the race did I look at the FR620 nor did I have any HR/pace/speed alerts. My eyes and the watch face met only once, and that was after I crossed the finish. Promise.
Now thanks go to my wife (and blogger at www.betweenseasblog.wordpress.com), who was employed as my personal photographer (a touch of professionalism, don’t you think?) on this beautiful Saturday afternoon in Siggiewi.
Now click through to Siggiewi, Sunday