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

Arctic Ocean 3 x 1 Mile Virtual Relay - June 28th 2020

So having hit my targets for the 5k, 2 mile and 10k I came to the last event of my short-race season that had begun back in April. Lockdown easing was all over the news with pubs set to reopen in early July, but actual group racing still looked some distance away - maybe September? Our team for the relay was myself, Suswara and Cristi. We had a combined age of over 150 but with both of them turning 50 later in the year we didn't qualify as a vet team. There were 75 teams in all - from all over the world. Quite a family.

I was tired and stiff and conditions were rotten but I was ready to give it all I'd got one last time and see if I could hit 5.45 or even five thirty something. Instead of heading up to Aztec or out to the fast and flat railway path at Bitton I just jogged up to the Horizon 38 Business Park less than 2 miles from my house. This is a new development and I've only recently discovered that its near-flat rectangle is almost a perfect KM so it makes a great place for interval training. The forecast was for a strong breeze from the west, but once I got there, after 20 mins of slower than the slowest jogging in light rain, I realised it was tracking more south-westerly meaning 2 sides of the rectangle would have a massive headwind. Conversely two would have a tailwind but you never get back what you lose - much as you don't regain downhill what you lose on a climb.

It was cool and wet but I stashed my jacket and hat under a roadcone on a corner of the deserted business park and got myself ready to run. It was going to be 6 or 7 sides of the rectangle so 4 would be with a tailwind and 3 with a headwind - at least that put the odds a little more in my favour! Garmin was set to show average pace and distance so I'd know pretty well how I was doing as soon as I'd got one side of the course under my belt. I had a short meditate and hit the button.

Instantly I was off at a stupid pace - it's not often that I run a mile so it's hard to gauge it! Average pace settled down to 5.31 as I got into a groove and pounded the wet road with the weather swirling around me. There was nobody in sight, no cars on the dead end road (Gypsy Patch lane was closed at the railway bridge) and so I could swing out on the corners and run a good racing line in the road. The first two sides of the course were hard because of the pace, but when I turned into the wind it was really hard. My body was in shock at what I was doing to it though and it seemed to not realise what was going on - I managed to push through the first headwind section without losing too much pace but the second one was a really challenge and the pace dipped right down. I'd done one lap now, over half way, and I was trashed. The next two sides of the course came with a tailwind that helped me stay on something like 5.45 pace and then the final dash, into the wind and rain, was the never-ending home straight running due south. Every step was hard going but eventually the Garmin beeped at 5.42 - I ran a few extra yards to make sure I didn't record a 0.99 miles, but that final time is the one that got saved.

As a team we came 25th out of 75, so I was well pleased with that.

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