On Saturday my club won the Midland 6 Stage Road Relays for the first time in a decade with a dominant victory over all our local rivals. No one got within a minute and fifty seconds of our time and our athletes occupied the top three slots in the list of fastest legs for the day. We led from the very first leg. It was a crushing win.
And I wasn’t part of it.
Despite my best efforts in training and our unoffical trial race at the parkrun the week before, I didn’t get selected for the A team. As the seventh best runner on paper there was no room for me in a team of six. It was a bittersweet victory for me; I was absolutely thrilled that my friends and training partners were rewarded for their hard work and had the chance to taste success, but at the same time I was frustrated at myself for not being among them.
I need to remember that this is the exact reason I moved club last year, though. I wanted more competition and I wanted to be surrounded by other athletes who were going to drag me along with them. Sometimes that means being picked for the B team. Now I need to use this as motivation to improve. Next time the road relays come around I want the gold medal hanging round my neck.
Monday: AM 9km easy / PM 11km easy (20)
Tuesday: AM 9km easy / PM 9km easy (18)
Wednesday: rest (0)
Thursday: 10km easy (10)
Friday: 8km easy (8)
Saturday: Midland 6 Stage, 8th on leg 1 in 18:30 (14)
Why, one might ask, is this a noteworthy or remarkable occurence? After all, I have not broken 15 minutes countless times. I am an expert at not breaking 15 minutes. I am reliable and dependable and if you ever need someone to not break 15 minutes, I’m your man. My failures at breaking the barrier outweigh, by some margin, the number of times (one) that I have.
Yet despite my impressive aptitude for failing to get round twelve-and-a-half laps in under a quarter of an hour, I was very pleased with yesterday’s run. In fact, my near miss was almost as satisfying as the time I actually did it. It confirmed my belief that I have taken another step forward this season. Backing up a PB with another time in the same ballpark is reassuring and shows that you are on a new level; it shows that the performance was no fluke.
I also feel that yesterday’s run was intrinsically better than my 14:59. It rained constantly throughout my race and the track was soaked. I went for it, stringing together a succession of 70-second laps in the middle of the race in the knowledge I had nothing to lose, and paid for it later on when I got dropped from the lead group I had fought hard to get on to. Despite this, I had decent strength and didn’t completely blow up having gone off at 14:45 pace. I learned that I am not yet in that kind of shape but also learned that I’m really not too far away. With even pacing I would have run a personal best but wouldn’t have learned anything about where my limit is.
Last night’s race has made me excited and hungry for next season, and in the shorter term, motivated for the cross country races that winter brings. But first a break…
Monday: 10km easy (10)
Tuesday: AM 8km easy / PM 13km moderate, weights (21)
Wednesday: 10km easy (10)
Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM 12*100 on grass (20)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: AM 6km easy / PM BMC Gold Standard B race – Milton Keynes, 6th in 15:00.71 (17)
Last week I took 5 seconds off my personal best for 3000m but felt like I could have gone quicker. Under instructions from my coach not to throw away time in the first few laps of a race, I went out hard and hung on; my splits were 2:51, 2:54 and 2:57. Although this probably isn’t the optimal way of doing it I was pleased to have held on well after starting quickly. Having strength is reassuring given that my final two races of the season are a steeplechase and a 5000m. Despite leaving the race feeling like I could have knocked a few seconds off with better pacing, my overwhelming feeling was one of confidence in my fitness.
Monday: 10km easy (10)
Tuesday: AM 6km easy / PM Stretford Open 3000 – 15th in 8:42.21 (15)
Wednesday: AM 11km easy / PM 9km easy (20)
Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM drills and hurdles, grass session – mile, 2 miles, 2 miles off 3:00,5:00 – 5:01,10:11,10:11 (28)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: grass session – 10*60s hill reps, 4:00 tempo (14)
I had a shocker of a race yesterday. For reasons possibly related to sleeping in a tent all week and driving for several hours back from holiday the previous day, I just didn’t have the legs for a good race at the BAL steeplechase yesterday. I even took a tumble on the way out of the water jump that left me both bruised and drenched. The fact that I had been roped in to doing a 400 hurdles an hour before probably didn’t help matters either.
But the thing is, I’m not too bothered.
Yes, of course I set high standards for myself and want to perform well every time I compete, but I have noticed that some races are very easy to write off. This tends to happen when I know I am in good shape and that the poor performance was the outlier rather than the trend. With good training and good races comes confidence. What is more difficult is dealing with poor races when things aren’t going well. I’ve been there too, but for now am quite happy to just write this one off as a bad day at the office.
Monday: 14km easy (14)
Tuesday: 15km easy (15)
Wednesday: AM 10km easy / PM fartlek run – 10 sets of 60s,60s on road (20)
Thursday: 10km moderate, strides (10)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: BAL Premiership, Cardiff – 400h 6th B in 72.61, 3000m steeplechase 4th B in 10:03.49 (8)
This is the post I hoped I’d be writing several years ago but its delay doesn’t make the experience any less sweet. Yesterday evening I broke 15 minutes for 5000 metres for the first time.
There is no heroic story about how I was dropped then rallied then just snuck under the barrier with a hard last lap. No one needed to scrape me off the track afterwards and I didn’t require any medical assistance. There was no fanfare or fuss and no cheering team mates. I just took the opportunity when it came and when I was in good shape, and ran even 72 second laps twelve and a half times.
I had a feeling I would do it after about four laps when a 4:48 mile tucked in at the back of a group felt too slow. My legs felt good. I went through 3000 metres in around 8:59 and knew I had enough in the tank and just needed to focus and not let the pace drop at all. What I can do is grind out a hard pace from a long way out; what I cannot do is make up 5 lost seconds on the last lap. On pace with 3 and then 2 laps to go, I knew I needed to keep pushing and that even then it would be incredibly close.
The clock ticked from 13:48 to 13:49 as I went through the bell. By this point I was hurting. I tried to stay calm and remind myself of all of the laps I have run in under 70 seconds in training and how this was just another one of those. I kicked as hard as I could down the back straight, trying to hold my form and remembering what Dave told me the other night about wasting energy by leaning backwards as I tire. I had 35 seconds to complete the last 200, a simple feat on most days but a tricky one given the strong headwind that had been blowing down the home stretch for the whole race.
Then nothing. I had no idea of my time as the finish line clock had stopped at 14:45 for the winner. I knew I had run a PB and also knew that it was very close to 15 minutes. I chatted to a few athletes I know and to someone else from my race who I had spent the first half of the race drafting behind. Fortunately BMC were quick with posting the results and the numbers were good.
This is why you enter meets with electronic timing. That would have been outside 15 minutes with a stopwatch so I felt vindicated in trying to do it at a race with proper timing. Not that I intend to cut it that fine next time.
The last item on my to do list has been crossed off. Now I just need to add a new one.
Monday: 8km easy (8)
Tuesday: AM 9km easy / PM BMC 1500, Tipton – 8th in 4:07.31 PB (17)
Wednesday: 12km easy (12)
Thursday: AM 9km easy / PM 8km easy (17)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: BMC Grand Prix 5000, Watford – 6th in 14:59.96 PB (11)