"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

PEACE 2 Mile Virtual Race - September 28th 2020

With Autumn sweeping in and my marathon-recovery from August officially over, it was time to look for new challenges. News of a new set of virtual races over the Sri Chinmoy Centre's traditional favourite distance, 2 miles, appeared in my inbox so I clearly had to sign up! I've got a Spring marathon and a July Ironman lined up for 2021 so what I really need to do over the winter is build a base of endurance in both running and cycling, but who's to say I can't keep up my improved speed with a weekly race? At least with 2 miles the attrition is low and the recovery isn't too taxing. Well that depends on how hard you run it.....

My mind was already tired of the long jog up to Aztec West, or the shortness of the loop at Horizon 38, so I opted to try a new route - 1 mile out and then back over the same ground, on a route starting from a side road near Parkway, up Hatchet Road and out on the wide shared-use pavement towards Winterbourne. I jogged it in practice from the far end back towards the station and noticed a short down-slope close to my turnaround point, while the rest was flat, sheltered and wide enough for socially distanced overtaking.

On race day Monday I went out after work, warmed up with around 20 mins of jogging getting to the start line then set off at a 6 minute pace towards Little Stoke. It felt more like my one mile race pace than something I could sustain for 12 minutes, but I tried to keep it up nonetheless. Turning the corner and heading east I suddenly noticed the ground rising and my pace slowing - only a subtle drag, but a slope I had somehow failed to notice when jogging it from the other end. A false-flat I guess you'd call it. Not such a great choice of course after all then.

By the time I got to the steeper slope that I had expected, leading up to the junction where I was doing my 180 degree turn, I had slowed and was already feeling the way I should only feel in the home straight - pretty spent. The rest of the race involved hanging on to the best pace I could and I finally staggered over the "line" (in reality a buzz from my Garmin) in a disappointing 12.22. The last mile lengthened in that unique way that only happens when you are over-extended and as the Garmin switched from counting fractions of a mile to counting the remaining distance in feet, time was turgid and refusing to pass, leaving me in a war with lungs and legs where I was not likely to emerge victorious. In the end it was a kind of draw - I was able to keep pushing hard but not hard enough to retrieve the time lost on the outbound, uphill mile.

There were around 130 entrants and that finishing time was still good enough for 6th place and first vet 50-59. The winner of the 60+ section had gone sub-11.30 though, which puts that in perspective! So I was less than happy with the time, with the poor choice of route which had come from mental laziness as much as anything, and with the missed opportunity to give something better.

Set against that I was happy to have got a first time on the board towards the 10-race Grand Prix and to have done pretty well in terms of overall position.

Next week another hard run against the clock should see me back at Horizon 38, roadworks permitting. This week the race was called PEACE and next time round it will be LOVE.

It was good to look through the results and see Sadanand as the outright winner and both Suswara and Karteek running well. Ashcharjya from Paris was in there too and Pavaka from Canada and a host of other European, Asian, American and Antipodean friends. My individual race had been a bit of a struggle but at least we were all in it together.

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