Monday, February 15, 2010

Race Report #37 - Like Buses

"Coming through with two laps to go is number 123, Private*, leading the Liffey Valley charge"
Too right I am. Grrrrr.... CHARGE!!!

After the two ladies in the local shop gave me a free coffee an hour before the race I knew that today was going to be my day. On the warm-up however, I felt flat and a simple jog around seemed to be taking more out of me than it should. I only threw in 2 stride outs before making my way to the line because there was just no spark at all there. With only three minutes until the start I decided to just get to the line and settle down rather than forcing out any more strides.

The route for the race was 1 small lap and 5 large ones, approximately 10km. The ground under foot was perfect and in the end I don't think there was a bit of mud anywhere on me. You'd nearly have been able to race in flats. There was one short, sharp, steep hill at the end of every large lap that was going to be testing, but other than that it was totally flat. My race plan was to take it handy for the first small lap, with a goal to come away with 3 good laps at the end. That's exactly how the race started out - the pace at the front didn't go off particularly fast so I was able to sit in the middle of the pack and still be only a few seconds off the lead group. Not that what was going on up front was ever going to concern me.

One small lap done and I was in 17th place. I noticed someone right in front of me start to up the pace and decided that he must have had the same plan as me, so I decided there and then to stick with him. On the first large lap I stayed right on his tail and covered every move he made, every person he went by, I went by. Down at the lower level of the course he made a move to go by someone I knew had easily beaten me by over a minute in every cross country race this year. I decided to back myself in this situation and went with him. Then we took on the hill in for the first time. It took a lot out of me and I felt drained about 200m after the hill. I tried to work off the guy right ahead but he started to edge clear and eventually he paired up with another guy and they got well clear of me.

Feck it. I've forced it to early. Now I'm in limbo with 4 laps to go and I'll be going backwards in no time.

The only thing for it was to regain composure on the flat. I got my breath back and started to work again. I could feel a gap opening up from me to the person behind me but I was way out of touch with the next guy ahead. After a while I spotted the two in front had caught another runner and spit him out the back - there was now someone for me to aim for. With three laps to go I'd caught him and edged past. For the next lap I could hear him at my heals the whole way around. I don't know if there's a worse feeling than passing someone only to have the re-pass you again within minutes. That fear was enough to force me to put in a bit of a spurt to get somewhat clear of him. With two laps to go there was about 20 metres to my next target.

Two laps - it has to be no more than 3,000m, 10 minutes running. Dig in and run

It took me the full lap to make up them 20 metres. About 200m into the last lap I pushed to go by him. The fact that I knew the guy and had never been in such close proximity to him in a race meant there was no way he'd go without a fight. I was right. About 1 minute later he burst past me on the lower flat. My initial reaction was that with him being a better racer than me that there was no way now I could get back past him. In the run up to our last jaunt up the hill there was only a couple of metres between us. "Every place" was getting screamed at both of us. As we turned into the finishing straight I burst past with this new kick I've been discovering in recent races. I wasn't to know that he didn't go with it and I just kept sprinting to the line, with no one around me, where I promptly lay flat on back, absolutely shattered.

I've no idea how accurate the measurement of the course was. The race was meant to be 10km, it sure as hell felt like 10km. More than likely it was slightly short but I'm still smiling at the end time - 33m 26s. That and the fact that the team picked up a bronze medal, my first medal to date.

*Obviously the announcer did not call me Private!
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