Adizero Challenge 1.5 Mile Race

So this was the week I finally cracked it and became a sponsored athlete, with free kit, top coaches and the company of international stars.....well, actually most of that is true! I got a chance to join the Adidas Test Team - along with a bunch of other runners who work in running shops, we got to try out adidas shoes and other kit and give them some honest feedback which they were eager to hear. In return we got a great two days hosted by full potential with some tempo training, a race, orienteering and appearances by Mo Farah and Andy Vernon.

Our competitive events included the Adizero Challenge 1.5 miler - this was about testing adidas racing shoes and the lightweight adizero kit - both excellent - but for me it was about testing my race pace after the lengthy layoff with post viral fatigue - basic fitness had returned but sharpness was decidedly absent! It was the second session of the day too, the morning having featured some tempo intervals on a grass track (great surface for intervals - no impact at all).

So, around three we duly lined up on one of the roads around the extensive grounds of wellington college - breathtakingly opulent and a far cry from the school I went to for sure - and readied ourselves for a ballistically short race.

As always I went off "optimistically" but you know - nothing ventured nothing gained! Our coaches had drummed into us the importance of even pace, but on the other hand I always got PBs when I went off fast and hung on rather than holding back in the early stages. As the rainwashed roadways unwound before us and we meandered through the grounds between rugby pitches, woodlands and old college buildings, I was soon into a rhythm of controlled discomfort, hanging on to that pace where I could breathe in on two paces and out on two. The faster runners were leaving me behind soon enough, and I was trying to hold off the pack behind - without much success!

After six minutes or so I upped the tempo of my breathing as I always do in the last half mile and managed to eek an extra effort out of myself to finish in 8.44, not too far down the order. I reckoned from that I was only ten seconds per mile off my usual pace, so not too disasterous! A strange "race" then, our Adizero challenge, but a good stepping stone as I tried to get my fitness back.

The next day we had a crack at orienteering, or at least a campus-based version of it, as we split into teams of 4 and did a kind of score class event where we picked up points for various checks around the college grounds.

Over the two days I put a plan together to get myself race fit by February, with a couple of 85% effort sessions a week through December and some races on the road in January - maybe a trail race thrown in time permitting. In 2009 I had big goals mapped out for the whole spring and summer, but I'm going into 2010 not sure what I'll attempt - lets see what it brings.