At last I was back racing, once again I picked the no frills, super fast Podium 5K. I ran this race back in August and achieved 17:40. This time round I opted for the quicker 17:30 race and knew everything had to click on the night if I was to achieve my target of 17:30 or quicker. I knew I had only been hitting 5:40/mi pace recently in training as my coach and I have been cautious after my heart attack in late August, so that meant speed work has been gradual. I had one eye on this race from March 6th, which left Jo (my coach) 4 weeks to get me in race shape, I covered my training for March last week, so you can see while I was getting fitter, my top end speed still had not returned, plus I’ve not done any track/speed work since last August. I am a firm believer that track work is vital for top end speed. It will be good to get some track sessions once everything re-opens. Till then I have a 1400m footpath at the side of a busy A road to do my speedwork on.
Having spent a few months working in metric instead of imperial I knew if I ran 3:30 splits I would achieve my target. I’ve found on my watch I have it set to lap time/lap pace/avg pace. And if my lap pace says 3:30 then it’s actually a few seconds faster. It helps in interval sessions so decided to use same in the race. After a good mini taper week, I went into the race feeling fresh. I also opted to race in my Alphafly’s I found them a little narrow but no shoe company do anything over 12 with carbon plates in, so run risk of blisters or not wear a pair and be handicapped compared to rest of field. Found majority of runners now are in some form of “supershoe” whatever your views on them, it’s daft to take advantage and make sure you start on a level playing field. That’s what Chris Thompson did in trials and as Beth Potter says, the shoe does not do the hours and hours of training!
So to the race at 6pm this was the 3rd race of the night, little did anyone know what was to come later that evening (Beth Potter ran 14:41 to set a British and unofficial world record). I love Podium 5K no thrills just pure racing, it’s what I love about running, the ability to put yourself out there and push yourself to be the very best version of yourself, it’s you against the clock and other gifted runners. So after a warm up alongside the canal I was feeling very relaxed and wasn’t nervous. After walking to the start was a case of 3,2,1 go and that was it off we went.
The start was crazy fast and soon found myself at the back, however I knew there would be a lot of sub 17 minute runners in my race so let them get on with it and I stuck to my own plan of having a fast but sustainable first lap then holding target splits. With that in my mind I ended up on back of the pack then within a lap was soon stretched out and I ended up in a good tussle with Laura Hesketh, over the race we switch positions a few times but I felt we helped each other to a decent time. The conditions were near perfect with a slight breeze on the back straight to the top bend but as I rounded it I felt like the route was a gradual down hill to the finish line. This was good mentally as I said to myself work hard to the top bend then push hard. This tactic worked for me.
The first K came in 3:20, happy and I didn’t feel like I had gone off too fast. I settled down and began focusing on each lap, going round bottom bend and taking a good racing line from one bend to another. Pushing on down back straight, someone kept shouting my name which I appreciated. Then a glance of watch as I approached top bend showing on second lap was 3:30, as came of top bend I pushed hard down through finish in line then watch buzzed again for 2nd K split in 3:25 another great rep. I still felt strong, I knew that if could keep it solid for next 7 minutes I had it in the bag. The 3rd lap the tussle with Laura continued and helped maintain my target pace. I only glanced at watch just before the top bend and noticed it had gone to 3:35 for the split so as I came off the top bend I pushed hard again on the home straight and it helped as pace picked up and meant 3:29 for 3rd K split.
By this point I was really in the zone, I knew that the hard work started now as it’s this point a race over 5K can be win or loose. I felt the pace had dropped on the back straight but was already thinking about the last lap and when to kick for home, again coming off the top bend I tired to pick it up and came through the finish line and on the bell watch buzzed for a 3:31 4K split. My slowest of the race at this point I picked up pace and went past Laura for a final time, although she stuck to me like glue as we pushed hard all the way round, as soon as I came of the final bend I kicked and kept trying to pick up the pace as much as possible (4:49/mi pace coming over the line) I managed to cross the line in 17:23 on the gun.
I had managed to beat my minimum target of sub 18 and my next target of sub 17:30 and was only 17s off my personal best. I believe with more training and including track sessions not only is my PB beatable but I believe for the first time ever I can actually achieve a sub 17 (where as before it was more of a dream)
Massive thanks goes to Callum Parkinson who covered the race live on Facebook (you can re-watch here) and gave me a fab shout out. Also thanks to Phil Brown for the photos. Now the training starts for London!