I love this race. It is flat enough and fast with a solid turnout of club runners. I like it as a post-Christmas focus. I admit my focus has not been there – this is a euphemism. I have been eating and drinking too much. Last night I stayed up until after midnight binge watching Afterlife 3 and achieved an all-time low sleep score of 13 off 5 hours sleep. That said, I ran my PB (sub-35) after a night out to Tiger Tiger on the Sailor Jerry and coke (cola).
Last week I ran the Cannock Chase Trig Race which was nominally a fell race but is better described as a trail race. Again, completely under-trained I ran the 16 miles and 500m climb in 2:16. I would normally leave a day per mile before racing hard again but with only a week between efforts I didn’t expect much at ‘Stubby’.
It is also the completely wrong kind of training that I should be doing as my A race is IMUK in July.
That pre-amble means what happened is even more incredible.
I walked to bag drop balancing on my Alphafly platform racing shoes; they feel so strange to walk (and run) in. It was 7 degrees and trying to mizzle. I checked my bag in, had a gel and jogged to the start putting in some strides (to make sure people didn’t think I was blagging it). This was the first time I’d worn the Nike Alphafly Next% shoes that everyone jumped on when SportsShoes did a 50% off sale. They are very light and crazy expensive at full price – 50% off is normal cost for trainers now… that’s how I justified it. I felt like a carthorse trying to be a thoroughbred. During the 2km warm up the shoes were clumpy and I wasn’t sure they were doing much even when I put some strides in. I struggled to get above 4:15 min/km pace and my heartrate seemed a little high during the easy pace.
I lined up and spotted people I knew – we had a good chat and I even got my junkyard dog out (check out Triathlon Mockery podcast). We decided to edge forward a bit. Mind writing blank cheques for my body to try to cash later.
It is only after I can think how cool it was to line up with 2000 people at the start of a race again. I hadn’t done this for a while – the Trig race was very low key and not a road race so a different feel. No standard times to race against.
I watched those at the front move forward and got ready for the off. The whole time I’d had music playing on my Aftershokz but only now as the hubbub subsided, I could hear Dave Grohl screaming:
“Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?”
(I don’t normally race in headphones but as these are bone conducting and therefore allowed I thought why not).
And then we were off. I held position, slowing slightly, 3:30 was a bit steep for most of us and we backed off the enthusiastic start. I noticed my breathing wasn’t very high and my HR hadn’t rocketed. I felt good. The shoes felt comfortable, this is what they were designed for (I’m sure this pair were delighted to have a fatty like me as their host).
The Km splits ticked by. 1km flat road, 3:48; 2km flat road, 3:57; 3km has a slight downhill and uphill, 3:55; which crests into 4km, 3:47. By now I was breathing hard, my HR was over 180 after the hill, there was a long way to go and I thought about what time I’d be looking at going through 5km in and how much I could slow down by without losing face. I’d obviously gone too hard. I went through 5km in about 19:19 which was my 5km benchmark set in December 2021 at a parkrun on a calm day on a flat course. I should not be passing halfway in a 10km in this time. At some point there was water. I needed to loosen my mouth but didn’t drink.
As we approached 6km, 3:54; I was gifted a song from my sons who had been on my Spotify.
“Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat Burger, burger Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat Cow, cow Fat, cow, fat, cow, fat, cow Burger, burger Not that they′re connected I’m just saying”
Not recommended. That was a nadir. But I kept running.
I thought to myself that I would soon be guaranteed a sub-40 and that would be fine so I could let the pace drift. We hit the seafront around 7km, 3:48; I actually passed a few people and tried to keep my rhythm up the Hill Head hill which is just a short rise but enough to break stride. Now I knew it was less than 10 minutes of pain. My HR was high but my legs kept bounding (bouncing) me forward. After 8km, 3:57; we turned inland. Less than a mile. Sub 31 minutes for 5 mile – I knew I could run 4 minute ks and still do around 39:xx. That’s a solid result. We can take it easy now? I was seeing 4:0x at times on my watch but at 9km, 3:55 kept me focused on finishing strong. My runner’s Tourette’s started to come out (I grunt loudly when I try, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not) but my pace stayed good. I crossed the line after 10km, 3:54 in 38:54. Nirvana.
“Here we are now, entertain us. A benchmark, a strong run, enthusiasm, and buzzing” (with apologies to Nirvana).
I had hoped for sub 40 before the start but wouldn’t have been disappointed with sub-42. I can’t believe it. I never tired. My legs feel fine now. What a run. PBs all round.
I am 10kg overweight and I have just run a time that previously took me years of training to get. How much is the shoes? How much is mental? How much is placebo? Who knows? Do I like the shoes? I like the times I run in the shoes!
So on to Ironman training – I have a last race pencilled in for Wednesday then it will be mainly zone 2 and going long. 24 weeks to go.
Note plant pot is now on coaster!