Thursday, 26 June 2014

Racing Throughout May

If January through to April was all about training for and running the London Marathon, then throughout May I rediscovered my love of the shorter distance. I have always been better at the 5k races, and have always felt I should probably be better than I am at 10k too – and it’s not just the races themselves, but the training: long slow runs bore me, and I much prefer a shorter, more intense training session, such as the excellent Tuesday night club ones run by Trevor, Steven and David. These sessions are extremely hard to replicate on your own – much easier to push yourself properly when there are others around you doing the same, and the camaraderie/banter in between
reps helps make the hour more enjoyable: they are hard but fun, which is exactly what good training should be. I had a period of about 8 months when I hardly ever made club training, and my times all began to fall off – and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that since I resumed Tuesday sessions from the turn of the year, I have been able to steadily chip away at my 5k times and am now back
close to my pb from over a year ago.

And so, the races in May came thick and fast.
Running along the same tracks the horses train on

Firstly, Newmarket Heath 6k: running without Garmin and just going by feel alone, I was pleased to come within 30 seconds of my time from last year, when I was running at my quickest. This was the first indication to me, after a disappointing London Marathon, that it wouldn’t take much to get back to my old times again, and possibly go quicker.

Next up, the first Kevin Henry race of the season at Impington. Everyone talked about the PB potential of the course – nice and flat, wide enough for no congestion, and good surface underfoot. I came within a few seconds of a PB, and my first sub-20 run in a KH fixture, so I was happy with that.

Next came the Ashdon 10km, the first of 3 races over that distance that I deliberately set up for May, with the aim to improve my time over what I find quite a tough distance to pace properly. Ashdon was hilly and off road – two factors I always try to avoid where possible, so again this was a conscious decision to try to take myself out of my comfort zone, and tackle things I find tough. My time was respectable enough, but the overriding memory of the day was the huge HRC turnout, which made for an enjoyable social occasion. Oh, and the cake. Obviously.

Lots of Haverhill Runners
Lots of Cake

Second 10k of the month, the inaugural Haver10. Again, a great club turnout for this and the Half, and my best ever race: a new PB for the distance and 5th place overall – obviously not the most competitive of races, a fact which I’m sure will change in future years as more local runners become aware of the event. But a nice flat route in the main, which just a slight incline coming back out of Sturmer.
A field of about 180 so I was chuffed with my finishing position
Nice to run on roads I know so well – having a good mental picture of how far there is to go has got to help, and I was pleased to keep my pace reasonably consistent throughout, with enough left for a sprint finish. 41m50 suggests that my sub 40m target is not quite as ridiculous as it has seemed over the last year, although there is still a long way to go.

In between all these races, there have been my weekly Parkruns. I have traditionally tended to neglect hills as part of my training, so Colchester Castle Parkrun on a weekly basis has helped tremendously with that. It’s a tough one to pace, since the first half is all flat or downhill, before then you tackle the big hill twice in the latter part of the race. So I never know whether to go all out to start with, and get some time in the bank, or whether to try and save something for the tougher second half. On this particular occasion, there was a 20min pacer, and since I was determined to go sub 20 for the first time there, I settled in behind him and let him do the thinking for me – even choosing to run without my watch. I was chuffed to bits when I was able to go past him with half a kilometre to go, and with a strong finish, I was sure I had a new PB – only to discover he had paced it incorrectly, and I had only matched my previous best time there, of 20m07. To be fair, I have been an official pacer there myself on two previous occasions, and not managed to cross the line at exactly the right time - it's not as easy at it seems.

But the most enjoyable race of the month for me was my last – the Bupa 10000, in London. I entered this mainly because it fell on my 40th birthday, and I had a few Colchester-based friends doing it too, with the promise of a day’s drinking and eating to follow. Charlotte and I arrived at our hotel the evening before, and like all good athletes, immediately began focusing on the following day’s events: being able to visualise what’s in store can only be helpful – and so, with this in mind, we found the pub we were planning to spend the next day in, and began sampling their beers. In fairness, we had only intended to have one – but the champions’ league final was on, and one thing led to another….anyway, we did at least get back to the hotel at a reasonable time, although unfortunately their bar was still open, and …
A great weekend, though not particularly from a running perspective

So not ideal, but it meant we turned up on race morning with very little expectation of setting quick times, and thus avoiding a lot of the pre-race nerves that we both normally suffer with. I was convinced it wasn’t a race with PB potential anyway, due to the huge number of entrants – second only the London Marathon in terms of what I’d experienced before – and I was anticipating congestion throughout. In fact, this wasn’t the case at all, the start being brilliantly organised in waves based on your predicted times, and so providing you were near the front there was no reason why you would be held up at all. Charlotte managed a new PB, and whilst my own time was some way outside my best, I am convinced I can do it quicker next year with the right preparation. But that wasn’t why I entered – and it was great to experience a race atmosphere similar to the Marathon, but with 20 miles less to run.

A busy month of racing came to an end with the club time trial, and another great turnout of over 70 runners. Andrew and I take it in turns to organise or run, and this month it was his turn on the stopwatch, but I didn’t feel I was in shape to go for a time, so instead paced Charlotte, who achieved a big new PB and a first ever sub 24min time. One of the things I have discovered over the last year is the pleasure you can get from running with others, helping someone to a new PB is the next best thing to getting one yourself. And getting more involved with the club in terms of helping organise the time trials, etc, has been a great way to get to know more club members, and to feel more a part of the club. Big thanks as always to our volunteers, without whom this can’t go ahead each month.

Haverhill Running Club seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment. We have always been a friendly, welcoming club – but it’s great to see so many people attending training, time trials, and local races. To get over sixty runners at the first Kevin Henry fixture in Impington was fantastic, but unbelievably we got even more - about seventy five - at the June fixture in Newmarket, running near the famous Rowley Mile racecourse. As I type this, we are only a week away from fixture number three, hosted by Saffron Walden, and another big club turnout is on the cards.

The bulk of this blog first appeared in the club newletter, which can be found on our website, The next blog will follow shortly and will deal with two very different race experiences in Bury St Edmunds. In the meantime, if you enjoy reading running blogs, please have a look at those of my friends:

No comments:

Post a Comment