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

Europe 5k Virtual Race - May 25th 2020

The end of the series, the Grand Prix decider, the 6th and final race. I knew I was odds on to have the best aggregate time for the over-50s but I'm never one to take anything for granted and having set my sights on competing for that "honour" I was intent on another maximum effort. It was cool, dry and still and I was running the Bitton 5K in the original race direction (so the slight climb would come mid-race not in the closing stages) so everything was set up for me. Optimum conditions. But was I in optimum condition?

It really was a privilege to be out at Bitton, jogging along the old railway line in the early morning to the sound of a choir of woodland birds singing their hearts out in the thicket to either side and with views across the fields - just a hint of morning mist - towards the hills around Kelston and Bath and the old village church.

My warmup was just two miles of jogging, speeding up towards the end with a few strides. I had my brief silence alone at the signpost that marks the start line and then I set off at a rapid pace with short strides, checking my Garmin every few seconds to see what my lap pace was. At first it seemed too slow and I had to step up the effort to a level that didn't feel sustainable to hit a km pace of 3.48. Gradually I loosened up and managed to keep the speed going - the vagaries of GPS seemed to be playing a part though as with no apparent increase in speed my lap time began to shrink and I heard the 1k beep with a time of around 3.35. Too fast! Well, I always go off too fast.

I had plenty of room on the track as you can see - a handful of cyclists in ones and twos the only company. Bunch riding is still off the menu in this era of social distancing.

The second km had the slight climb up to the station and then I had the long stretch to the invisible turnaround point - I turned as I heard the beep of the Garmin rather than the 2.5km mark I'd made in chalk the week before - maybe it was there still but I didn't see it. The fast start was hurting me and it hurt me more as the run went on, but I battled hard against myself and managed to keep on pushing through the second half. I had no sprint left at all and in fact I was slowing as I came around the bend to lurch and stagger to the line.

Warmdown by the old trains was pleasant but I was disappointed that once again Strava seemed to have given me a long and wrong final lap that dragged my time down. Garmin was there as a backup but I was relieved when I viewed the Strava time again and it seemed to have corrected itself, giving me my second time of the series under 19 minutes - a barrier I hadn't broken in the last ten years until this little Virtual Race Series.

So, 18.57, my second best time out of the six and an improvement of over a minute since that disappointing 19.59 at Aztec West in mid April. Improvement is its own reward.

I was second in category on the day, but the new winner was in his first and only race of the 5k series and on aggregate time (among those with the minimum requirement of 4 races) I was out in front.

So, I worked extremely hard and dedicated myself to this series and got rewarded with the best over-50 result. Very happy with that :)

My body is creaking under the load of twice-weekly hard sessions though (1 race and 1 interval workout) so I need to throttle back slightly. My plan is to do the new series that starts next week but not go all-out in the 2 milers. That way I should be able to do a hard session mid-week as well and build up to the 10k on June 21st.

Thanks to everyone involved in the Oneness World Race Series - organisers and participants - for giving me such a great series of events to focus on when there are no "normal" races of any kind taking place. It's been awesome.

Grand Prix results (open and SCMT) are here and here.



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