Wednesday, September 16, 2009
With the weather playing its part for once and my legs feeling fresh, there wasn't much doubt in my mind that this race was going to be a good one. As I jogged around the course, warming up, there was barely a hint of wind about, there was a bounce in my step, no breeze, stiffness or fatigue - there could be no excuses.
Strides done, last swig of water taken, I was ready to go. I took to the starting line. As the gun went off I tucked myself onto the back of the lead pack where I stayed for not much further than 500m. The plan was to go through the first 3km steady, but not too fast, before picking up the pace. Even with this in mind I probably set off a tad fast, but then again, how do you run a fast race if you don't start fast? After 3km there wasn't much more I could be giving so I stuck with it the same tempo. Whenever I felt I was slacking I injected some pace. At this stage there was a runner about 10-15 metres in front of me, who had the same gap to the runner in front of him. The lead pack had stormed on and was a fair bit ahead of us now.
What was disconcerting was that no matter how many times I injected some pace I couldn't close the lads in front of me down. They were hardly upping the tempo at the exact same times as me. As we finished the first lap there was a marshal calling out times - 17.01 for 5km. I'm not sure if I'd have been happier not knowing this. My logic behind this is that I felt like I wasn't going to be able to put the same time in again for the second lap. This time meant that if I slowed ever so slightly I'd be struggling to make a PB. This is where the mind started to weaken and definitely played a part in how I ran the second half. This is an aspect I need to strengthen.
Just before 6km I could feel the runners behind me closing in. I slowed down to let them go ahead, with the idea to dig in and go with them. As they flew by I nearly threw in the towel. I slowed and pretty much resigned to fast jogging to the end. I was done. This was followed by a self inflicted kick up the ass. This was the pain I was meant to be teaching myself to run through. Too often I finish a race and feel like I could run another mile or two. I had to get back in with these guys and use them to take me around to a fast time. A quick spurt to catch up with the three lads who just past me and I started running at a pace that bizarrely started to feel easy.
Coming into the last 2km the 3 lads seemed to up the pace again and this time I didn't go with it. I struggled on at my own pace. Not too far down the road and one of them came back to me. Past him and on I went. I knew there wasn't much further to go - the nice thing about a two lap race. The worst part of the whole race came just as I was turning onto the final 200m. I heard the loud speaker announce that the guys just ahead of me had come in just under 34.30. That was the PB gone. Even if I had stuck with them, to bring me around to a fast time, the PB may still not have materialised.
One thing I can say for certain though after this race - I could not have kept going for another mile or two.