My legs felt like someone had detached them from my body, driven over them with a steam roller and stuck 'em back on again. Suffice to say I did not feel confident of a good run in the Bitton Road Relays. At only five miles it should have been a doddle - it was not.
We met at the race HQ to organise ourselves and work out team tactics - 'run as fast as you can' - I kept quiet, not knowing how 'fast' my brand of fast was going to be. With team orders registered, we headed out - an easy mile to the start.
Up first was Martin 'The Speed' Bailey and he got us off to a good start. Not sure of his time but I think he came home in fifth place. While Martin was running I set off in pursuit at a leisurely pace to try and get my legs into some sort of operational state over the five mile trek to Bath, ready to start my leg when the time came. That gave me a chance to get some marker points to gauge my pace when I ran back in the race proper.
Our second runner was 'Dead Speed' Dan Massey, running from Bath back to Bitton. He played a blinder moving us up to fourth place in a time of 28 minutes - an absolutely cracking time.
Third, taking us back to Bath was Graham 'Wonder Legs' Crump. He's had a few injury problems over the last year or so and is getting back into the swing of things. He held the ship steady to reach Bath in 5th place. That put the pressure on me. I have to be honest, I was hoping he would have taken it easy so I could pootle home. As it was the sixth place runner less than a minute behind - and that meant I had to run as hard as my frail legs would permit me. Damn it.
I set off with the intention of running even splits. To that effect things were going well until the mile marker when the sixth place runner moved up to fifth and there was nothing I could do to hold him off. He edged away. Out to fifty, maybe seventy five metres but then the gap stopped growing. The racer in me kicked in and I dug deep. I got a nice rhythm going - I'm a great fan of the rhythm method - and slowly but surely - don't call me Shirley - I started to reel him back. At first I wasn't even sure the gap was reducing. Mind tricks. But after a few minutes I realised it was.
Little by little he came back to me as I pushed hard. I felt, despite the poor shape of my legs, that if I could get to within ten metres of him by the time we reached the home straight that I could fire up my long forgotten and rarely used afterburners to take me past.
In the end, the question of whether the afterburners would fire up or not didn't raise it's head as by the time we hit the four mile marker we were level. As I nudged ahead he kicked to stay with me but I just kept pushing and finally he broke as I pulled clear. In the end I finished 100m clear, ensuring we remained in a great 5th place. My time of 33:11 was only thirty seconds off my time from 2006 - and I hadn't raced the day before when I set that time. Pleased? You bet.
All round it was a great team performance. Team Bristol Water had held it's head high. Man of the match has to be Dan with his 28 minute 5 mile. Corking.
My splits (kilometres), for the record, were; 4:11.5, 4:18.5, 4:13, 4:07, 4:08, 4:02, 3:56 and 4:00 (there was an additional 15 seconds to tag on because kilometres and miles do not mix). A pleasing set of splits as it proves my strength. Read my lips, 'I don't fade'...