So last week (Mon 18th – Sun 24th) was a week where I almost ran two races in the space of five days…hot on the heels of narrowly missing out on my sub 1:03:00 10 mile target at Elswick.
Wesham Interclub 2016
First up was the Wesham Interclub on Monday, a 4.5 mile run held just outside of Preston [here]. It’s a route that features a couple of up and downs but nothing major and I was feeling good and ready to race. As were plenty of my Preston Harrier team mates, as the team turned out in force to try to maintain our 100% record in the 2015 interclub series.
Setting off on the first mile, I had decided to set a fast pace then ease back to comfortable face for miles 2 and 3 before finishing strong for mile 4. Well, that was the plan and the first mile flew by as I recorded my fastest ever time for a mile split of 5:48. However, not long after the first mile marker, things went wrong and it wasn’t something that happened to just me, it was something which affected the first 110 or so runners…..
Now in some ways, I can see the funny side of it and in other ways, it’s a tad annoying. Someone had switched one of the race arrows and instead of making a right turn, we went straight on, onto a mud and cow dung covered hill climb through a farm. Now I can understand the runners following a tampered with a sign, but the lead marshal, cycling ahead of the race, should have known better. Whilst I was thinking to myself that this route seemed nothing like the map I had studied, I just thought that perhaps the route had changed. It was only on turning a corner before I had reached mile four and seeing the finish just up ahead. That I started to be sure that something was not right. But by this time my legs were feeling heavy, id just run Elswick and set a very fast first mile in this race, so I headed to the finish tried but still fighting with what energy I had left, crossing the line in 23:00. A great time, however, I then saw on my watch that I had run just 3.8 mile rather than the required 4.5 miles……..come again!!!!
After the race, seeing half the runners covered in mud and the other half clean, confirmed the rumours that were circulating that something had gone very wrong with the route and later that evening it was decided to declare the race dull and void. Which is a real shame for the 294 runners that turned up and a big shame for the organisers as its unlikely that the race will be re-run. It is fairly annoying on a personal level, to know that the hard effort I put in counts for nothing and my 22nd place finish is assigned to history. Hey ho…..onwards and upwards.
Lancs Fire 3 Person Relay
So Friday and race two, a 3 person relay run, of sorts……There are no batons exchanges or tagging of the next runners in this relay. Instead, the teams set off in three waves, one minute apart from one another. So more of a staged start team race, than a relay. I would be running in wave two, which I thought was a good wave for me, as I wasn’t the fastest in my team and wave three would probably require quite a bit of weaving. The distance, 2.68 miles, a strange one and the shortest race I have run since my school days.
Having run Elswick on the Saturday before, Wesham on the Monday, had a track session on the Wednesday and run 10 miles on the night before race day. It was safe to say I was in no shape to run my best time. However I was determined to do my team mates proud and as with the Wesham Interclub I flew through this first mile, breaking my mile split record for the second time in a week, completing mile one in 5:36 pace. I then intentionally slowed down for the second mile, having slightly shocked myself at covering a mile so quickly . Although that said, I still completed that mile in 6:01 pace and then there were just 0.6 miles left. Not only was the race coming to an end, but having done so few races of this distance, I wasn’t quite sure how to run what was left. In the end, after 2.2 miles, I decided to pick up the pace to try and shave as much time as I could, off the teams total time. I found soon found myself battling with another runner who went by be me two times in fairly quick succession.
Interestingly…..sort of….as mentioned earlier on in this blog, this race was being run around the perimeter of Blackpool Zoo and having undertaken work experience at the zoo during my college days. I recognised the building through some bushes and trees to my left, this told me we were really close to the finish. I took this as a sign to move into sprint mode and I flew towards, what I hoped would be a turn straight to the finish line, catching and passing another runner in the process. luckily my gamble paid off and the finish was indeed straight ahead. I covered the final 300 metres or so of the race in 5:31 pace, giving me a finish time of 15:41.
It was a great time, although I do wondering if I had more experience of shorter races, would I have completed the race in a quicker than, braving working hard for the full distance. But that said our collective team time came in at 46:46 minutes earnt us a fourth place finish and a box of chocolate covered truffles each….yummy…..so all in all a good days work.
In both races, I broke my mile split record, in both races I then slowed down all be it intentionally. At Wesham, i eventually ran out of steam, whereas at Blackpool I was able to finish in a sprint. Something that no doubt reflects the different terrains these races covered (pancake flat Vs undulating).
It is becoming more and more common for me to record sub six minute mile times, reminding me of my days of running seven minute mile times and dreaming of being able to consistently run races with an average time of sub 7 mins. This is good to see, as I am still not back to full training since Boston, after a series of annoying injuries. It shows fantastic progress as I approach the end of the first year of being a club runner.
My immediate target is to bring that 10 mile time down to 1:02:?? , small achievable targets are always best. I am not far off that now, just 15 seconds with another opportunity in a couple of weeks time. But if I can achieve that before my next round of marathon training begins (December), I will be very happy with myself. Although the coaches at Harriers have advised me to find a 10k, as it has been two years since I ran one and if I can set a new PB in one, then it will help me with my 10 mile target.
To do these things I think, I need to get back to running strict pace plans and I need to get back to doing all the extra training I was doing ahead of Boston.