This past Saturday saw me return to racing after the worldwide lockdown. Personally it was also a major step in the right direction as well. As I’ve mentioned previously on my blog since I hit my best spell of times in the winter of 16/17 I got stuck in a bad cycle in my running. I did have a few bright spots but personal family health issues since 2018 meant my head was also not in a good place. This all came to ahead last year when just after I felt like I had turned a corner in April with a PB of 17:06 at 5K and a few race wins, I picked up an injury. This injury put me out till 2020, despite me trying on several occasions to make a comeback.
I had started to rebuild at the start of the year, then I had rug pulled from under me with my diagnosis and by the last parkrun before lockdown I had ran 18:35. I decided lockdown was the perfect opportunity to look at my running and where I wanted to go. That turned out to be Jo Wilkinson, ex British athlete and running coach. Over the past few months training has really gone well. Jo and Performance Team have highlighted my weak areas and I’ve worked hard to address them. While no where near the finished article I do feel fitter and stronger. This leads me back to Saturday, as soon as I saw on Facebook that they were putting on a series of graded 5K races I was straight onto Jo to get the green light to enter the race. I had done a few 5K efforts during training and on undulating routes had been hovering around 18 minutes and felt I was in sub 18 shape.
After speaking to Jo we opted to go in the sub 19 race and not sub 17:30 which upon seeing the results was the right choice. Jo and I spoke in week(s) leading up to the race about goals and was realistic and said main goal was to go sub 18 and if conditions were perfect and everything went to plan 17:30 was possible based on what I had been doing in training. Jo agreed with my views. We spoke about race tactics and as it was a 5 lap race, we set our plan based on that. It was actually 4 and 3/4 laps. I found my watch ran each KM longer due to GPS. The plan before hand was to aim at around 5:45 pace for first lap (3:31-3:35) but no faster holding pace through lap two then running strong through 3 and 4. Then giving it whatever I had left on lap 5.
Now going into a race, I had never felt more ready for a race. There were no nerves just pure excitement, even after warm up I had a plan and was determined to deliver. After a social distance start it was a normal race. It was worth noting that there was a head wind down from the start to the turn at the bottom. By lap 4 you could feel you were having to work a little harder to maintain pace into it. I ended up on front row due to the social distance line up. I had to tell myself not to get carried away. I got away safe and soon looked at my watch… 5:15/mi pace so I just took my foot off the gas and let the majority of the field pull away and found myself running with David Gill at the back but I was still running 5:35/mi pace so let foot off a little more so by time I had reach the bottom bend I was on pace and kept it at that going though the finish line. Watch buzzed just after the marker on the floor bang on pace (3:33 on watch) it was probably a couple seconds faster due to GPS. Second lap was very controlled. I had settled down and I had a massive pack of runners in front of me who was already paying price for a crazy start. I spend lap two slowly closing the gap without upping pace. I came through lap 2 and watch buzzed for another bang on pace (3:33 on watch) again was out compared to marker.
As soon as watch buzzed I started to push hard, looking at the watch stopped as now was a case of hunting runners down and it felt awesome as I simply spent rest of the race working my way up the field. It meant was having to do more weaving but was feeling strong and watch was still saying was on 5:45 pace as I began the vital 4th lap, (lap 3 on watch was 3:34). I was now racing for place with other runners. I caught another two male runners with my next male target was a Bingley Harrier. I had also caught the leading ladies in my race, one though I could not shake. I came through lap 4 which was slower in (3:41 on watch). Soon as last lap hit I pushed hard. I was tired by now and the head wind wasn’t helping. I caught the Bingley runner but the first lady finished stronger and she pulled away as we came out the final bend. It was then a case of giving it hell to the end. I crossed the line and just dropped on the grass, I had given it everything (lap 5 on watch was 3:16, although watch got it short) . My watch gave me 17:40 dead and I reckon I was in top 10. I was buzzing.
After a cool down and change I was back home. The results were online fast and I came 6th (5th male) in 17:40, that’s 5:41 pace! For me it was the perfect results, it sets a benchmark to move forward. Next target is sub 17:30 and I think that’s a case of when not if. Long term I want to break 17 and I think I had the right team behind me now to achieve my goal. I am now having a week off with my family, as my wife worked throughout lockdown to provide front line care. We should have been in Spain instead we have been visiting loads of new places all week.
Next week I have my first track race in two years so it’s a case of a good speed session Saturday then a case of ticking over. Before I go back into regular training from 23rd. More on my upcoming race next week.