"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own" Sri Chinmoy
Antarctica 5k Virtual Race - May 4th 2020 - Aztec West
Another gorgeous day - brilliant sunshine and 16-17 degrees - and another chance to battle against the challenge of 5k on the nearest thing I have to an ideal course within my running-from-home orbit. After the previous week's effort I was hoping to match my time of between 19.10 and 19.30. I'd kept my weight down to 9.10, my racing weight, and managed to work another interval session with faster than race pace 1km reps (only 2 of them mind) into my weekly training. I remember coming to the end of the second fast k in that training run to find a roebuck heading straight for me on the pavement! I was in hard effort mode and kept going - the roebuck darted into a field. I used to see deer around Filton quite often but as more houses have been built they have been less common - perhaps the lockdown and its reduced traffic levels has allowed them to edge back in to the fields and woods on the edge of town...?
Anyway, back to race day. I was working early shifts so unlike last week's effort, this would be an evening run. Well in fact it was more late afternoon than evening as I as out of the door at ten past four. Again it was breezy - only 15 mph on my weather app but I knew that would be working against me on the backstraight at Aztec West. I jogged up slowly and felt some soreness in my calf so I stopped to stretch it hard on the kerb - seemed to work. Of course you never know if it's going to come back once you hit race effort...luckily it stayed away. I grabbed a selfie - as you can see I was in an old triathlon top, theorising that this would create less wind resistance. Then I had a quick drink, stashed my warm-up kit, a few moments of meditation and then my very own, solitary race-start.
I aimed for the same effort as the week before and found it easy enough on the first km - then turning into the wind it got hard and harder still on the upslope. I could tell I was going reasonably well from the Garmin but it takes a while to register your speed changes and even with the Lap Pace showing you can be running faster or slower than you think. As the third lap - the last couple of km - began I realised I had started fast and was going to suffer. I was flagging severely as I tackled the slope for the third and final time, running in the road to get a flatter and faster course than the pavement. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a police car shadowing me, and I was worried I might get stopped and asked not to train on the road, but luckily there was another pedestrian on the pavement so it looked as it I was just giving them a 2m gap for "social distancing". I pulled on to the pavement well in front of them having had the benefit of taking both bend and slope on the road which definitely takes less effort than the twisty pavement! The police car sped up and exited Aztec West, leaving me to struggle down to my finish line and pull up totally exhausted when the Garmin beeped for 5k.
When I recovered enough to check strava it turned out I had done well by my standards - I couldn't quite believe it but after adding up the splits several times it appeared I'd run under 19 minutes. 18.55 in fact. I haven't done that since the CCC 5k in Cardiff in 2009! A satisfying result and worth all the effort with strict diet, yoga, doing the plank, running hard intervals. It got me to the top of the leader board for over 50s and now I have my eyes on the Grand Prix. I just need one more good time from the last 3 races and I should be OK, unless one of the others in my cohort raises their game massively. Of course that's quite possible as I've done it myself - taking a minute off my time of 2 weeks ago. Let's see how it turns out - whatever the result the race series has energised my running and given me something to focus all my efforts on in these rather strange and structureless times we're all living through.
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