Weston Prom Run September 2011

I First Prom Run of the season and I optimistically opted to sign up for the whole series. Lets see how many I actually do! On this occasion I had felt rough all week with a sore throat (a virus hanging around – this may have been the reason I blew up spectacularly in the sportive the previous Sunday) but on the plus side, that meant I was well rested. First race of the series, with only one race behind me in the last few weeks (a slowish 2 miler in New York) I was only aiming for sub 32 minutes. Of course with a series, you don’t want to start too fast, as part of the fun is improving. Suswara and Kokila were thinking the same – we were all a little out of shape so as a team we were all going in to the race with the sneaky intention of setting a low benchmark which we could then triumphantly improve on. Conditions, on the other hand, were perfect. Mild temperatures, clear skies and so little breeze that the sea was as still as an indoor pool. Warming up gently on the north prom I was enjoying the sunset views, the calmness of the sea, and the fact that none of my niggles was giving me any pain at all. Weston is a wonderful place to race on a day like this, I thought, remembering what it’s like when the wind comes in from the sea and just seems to stop you in your tracks...

It was starting to get dark as we massed at the start, had a 3-2-1 countdown then belted off down the prom. As usual it was a decent field, filling the width of the prom to start with then thinning out in time for the turn. I took the first half mile at what seemed like an easy pace, but the next half mile I felt good enough to speed up for and I heard a garmin’s unmistakable beep at exactly six minutes. Gone off too fast again! I still felt ok at the turn, and in the first northward leg of the race back to the start fatigue started to hit me in the form of a stitch – not a full on stitch, just that pre-stitch feeling as you start to tighten up. Everything else felt fine so I tried to regulate my breathing and relax my muscles to ease it away. By the time the second turn came, I had staved it off, and a split of 15.20 made me think I might even get under 31 minutes which I’d have been over the moon with. Next leg, third quarter of the race, I kept up with the bunch around me and still felt strong – took the last turn ready to force myself to keep up the pace. Then, with just a mile or so to go, my lack of speedwork (or speed endurance work) hit me suddenly. Pace ebbed away and the bunch around me began to leave me behind. When I got passed I stuck behind the faster runner, hoping for a tow to the finish, but I could only match their pace for a few seconds. It wasn’t a complete collapse, so I still came in with a time of 31.07 – massively beyond my expectations.

Well pleased, and not sure I’ll have an easy time improving on that. I would love to get down under 31, but I have such a tendency to push myself too hard and aggravate a niggle that I’ll have to get the balance just right to have a “sustained improvement”. We’ll wait and see.....

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