Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Another quiet start to the week, with my first run coming at the Vera Hirst 5k race, which had moved over to the Cowm Reservoir course at Whitworth. The short drive over included a mini snowstorm that gradually turned to rain by Bacup, with the race itself pretty much dry.
So far my fastest comeback 5k had been 22:35 at Fountains, with Bramhall last week almost matching. I was sure I could go sub 22 but settled for trying to get under 22:30 with as little effort as possible. Whilst I’m not specifically trying to run fast, as my fitness improves my times for a given effort will improve, so I’m using them as an indicator of my fitness. It’s also a good opportunity to practice race tactics and pacing.
After going through km1 in 4:36 I upped effort to close a big gap ahead and ended up going through 2nd km in 4:04, too fast as I knew I couldn’t sustain and eased back. Managed to gain a couple more places but didn’t seem much prospect of getting any further. Worked harder all the way back with splits of 4:15 and 4:14 with footsteps breathing down my neck, opened it up a couple of times but they came back.
Tactically eased off a little across the dam in readiness for finish effort. Relaxed on downhill before the corner, taking a slow wide line and then turned up the power. Legs felt good so after a few seconds, really hit it and surprised myself at acceleration. Eased back after a few seconds, happy I’d created a big enough gap to cross the line in 20:39 (think I should actually be 20:53).
Happy with time, but unhappy at lack of pacing discipline on a course I know well. Plenty of other opportunities at Cowm this year.
Friday –set off on a longer run at lunchtime with a casual idea of at least 10k, but in the event did 14.25km. Having had no carbs the previous evening and no breakfast, it was not surprising I felt a little light headed after 9k and started feeling tired after 11k, but happy with run overall.
Saturday was another inaugural parkrun, this time at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. It wasn’t as flat as expected, as part of the building works they seem to have created a bit of a bump. It was one small loop and 2 big loops, at times running on pristine new paths, sometimes loose gravel, sometimes an earthy wilderness and sometimes through the middle of a building site! Plenty of parking for early arrivers and loos in the cafe.
I really enjoyed the course with km’s 1,2 & 4 having a gravel climb including a sharp hairpin and 3 and 5 being mainly down. A cool breeze and week sunshine made for good conditions but the curving open paths made it near impossible to hide from the breeze especially on the two big loops.
I didn’t want to overexert myself ahead of Sunday’s 10k, so didn’t really have a definite pace in mind.
Set off steady up the first climb, picked up effort along top of small loop and then worked to keep pace going. Made good progress and ended up working a lot harder than planned but 4:19 – 4:19 – 4:03 – 4:19 – 4:02 for the first 5km was near perfect pacing, just a shame there was an extra 40 odd seconds to add on to my watch distance! 21:42 left me a bit tired, especially after a big early Mother’s Day lunch and an hour sat in the sun.
The first Ron Hill Accrington 10k on Sunday had the added challenge of the clocks going forward, but a welcome surge of warm air made for great conditions. Slight nip to air, hazy sunshine and a great atmosphere with over 400 runners, including Ron.
I’d made a late decision to enter, primarily to just get a feel for a bit more race distance as I prepare for surviving a 10 mile race. A good day would be sub 46 – although Vera would suggest sub 44 was a prospect if I could muster the same energy and motivation, and without the tired legs. I decided to split the difference and head off for a 45min target and see where it got me.
After a steady undulating loop around the town centre, we headed upwards and I wasn’t feeling brilliant, legs tired, tendon twinging and breathing felt a bit shallow and quick despite HR reading ok.
I tried to keep HR in the low 160’s on a seemingly never ending slope upwards but increasingly found myself creeping higher as it was too comfortable. Finally a bit of down and I made the mistake of pushing a bit, before another stiff climb popped up.
Got effort back in control, but HR now consistently nudging 170+ towards half way and a bit of a twisty section took us on a nice slope down. I decided to up effort a tick and started concentrating on gaining places, no-one had made an overtake stick since around 2k, and whilst my primary aim was HR based, I also didn’t want to lose any places now I was in race mode.
After another wiggle around, we joined the greenway, primarily sloping gently down – my favourite angle! – after briefly dropping a couple of pIaces, I soon had them back and moved onwards one runner at a time.
I had a brief tussle on a steeper down and up, rocketing up the climb to regain the place and easily cruising past another to catch a yellow girl. I hung on as HR had hit high 170’s and needed to get it back down. Thoughts of finishing tactics came into play with about 2k to go and I feared we may have a climb back up but HR was now back down to 170, so it was onwards again, making the most of the down before it ended.
As we hit the flat there were a couple of guys just catching a slightly slowing blue guy about 100m ahead that seemed a bit far off and with the uncertainty about the finish I just eased slightly.
Footsteps behind began closing in and a couple of supporter shouts alerted me to fact it was a woman. As Accrington yellow was the only one I had passed in about the last 20 overtakes. I assumed she was fighting back but was surprised to see a new blue woman come through strongly – who I hadn’t overtaken. This was bad news, this wasn’t someone fighting back with a temporary surge that I could play with, it was someone who had paced their run better than me. This was no good, 7.5km and no lost places, and now I was going to lose one at the death. Mugged!
Worse still, even upping my effort I couldn’t quite hang on to her as she caught blue guy who had now been dropped by the other two. Just as I was admiring her, err, pacing and about to give up Tesco popped in sight and I suddenly knew we were close to the finish, and more importantly there was no surprise big climb. This stopped the negative mental spiral I was teetering on – every little helps – and with renewed belief I set about chasing them both down. Unfortunately they were now battling each other on the last surprise downhill which meant even with increased effort it took right to the last corner to catch them up.
I hopped off the kerb and then back on to get the space for a faster line around the corner – 100m to go – and hit the power at the apex to pull away slightly and close in on the next fading runner, but halfway there started fading myself. Quick rethink on strategy and settled for trying to cling on – just did it, with a crowd following in behind.
45:08 – only a few seconds off target but for the second consecutive day got my pacing bang on which was just as pleasing as narrowly managing to save my no places lost for the last 8km. Love a good battle, whatever level I am currently at. Happy with improving endurance, didn’t really expect to last the full distance, just need to add another 4 miles on now!