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

Australia and Oceania 5k Virtual Race - May 18th 2020

I went into this 5th race in the series feeling in much, much better shape than last week. I'd clocked up 30 miles of running over 7 days and the cramps and stiffness had faded away - energy felt better too. I was interested to see how I shaped up on the out-and-back course of the Bitton RR 5k, on the railway path between Bath and Bristol. 

I was prepared well enough, and had time to scope the course and find the nails marking the start/turnaround (this was easy enough as it's one I measured myself a while back and my nails/washers are still there). The only question mark really was over whether the wind would slow me down - like Aztec it's a course with some exposed sections and the windspeed was up in the high teens.

I jogged out to what is usually the turnaround point and a bit further too, probably covering around 3.5k which was enough warmup. I didn't want to hang around too long as it was already 7.40 and I didn't want to try running when the path was busy with bikes and dogs. So I had my brief silence on my start line and headed down the track towards Bitton station. Of course now it's all closed up, and who knows when the steam trains will start running again? It's going to be a strangely quiet summer...

As usual I had Strava running to clock my race time and a Garmin to pace against - it was beeping every 500m and giving me a lap pace in the high 3.40s. KM1 went well, I felt good and the course was unwinding nicely beneath my feet with just the odd cyclist for company and birdsong in the trees for background music. KM2 became a struggle into the headwind, but I still felt on course for a decent time. At the turnaround I had space to run around the point I'd chalked on the tarmac as there was no-one around, and the Garmin beeped a few metres after the turn which was what I expected. I know it's a perfectly measured 5k but GPS watches tend to have a delay or under-record a distance.

The return journey was easy enough at first and I was battling with myself to keep things right on the edge and not slacken off - after all I could end up with a season's best if the second half went well. The slight incline up past the platform at 4.5k was sapping and then the last 500m went on a long time, but I managed to get all the energy I had inside me out and on to the track, finishing properly hammered!

Garmin had me at 19.04 by the time I hit the stop button and as I start that watch a second or so before Strava, and Strava seems a touch more accurate, I was hoping my Strava time had dipped under 19. I had a shock when I finally dug out the phone and found it had clocked my final lap at 4.22 - no way man! Something had gone wrong and later I discovered I had the phone on power save mode, which seems to trash the accuracy of the GPS. That last lap, with the thick tree cover, was way off. Fortunately the Garmin was there as backup and Devashishu, in his role as race director, replied to my whatsapp right there and then to confirm I could submit it.

So, the new course and the good week of training (featuring a key session of 3 x 1km at full on race pace off 5min recoveries) had got me my second best time of the series and a very enjoyable run through the woodland and fields of the Avon Valley on a lovely cool morning.

There were views out to Kelston Round Hill and across the fields to a couple of gothic churches, lush fields around the river and the Mendips on the skyline. Not a bad place for a max effort in the Oneness World Virtual Race Series! I've not yet seen how I did in terms of position, but whatever the result I'm happy with the effort and the time.

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