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

Aztec West Fast 5k - March 2017 - Bristol

This is pretty much my local race, but seeing as I've not been fit to race much over recent years (since I moved back to Bristol in 2010) I haven't had a chance to take part - until now. Dave was going (he's race fit for sure - aiming for 17.30) so I nervously tagged along with the aim of getting a speed session under my belt and hoping to come away without my calves being trashed. All about injury avoidance these days - but if I don't race I'm not going to improve my times and with the 50th birthday 15 months away I want to get myself in shape for a vet-50 season.

OK enough preamble!

Warm up with Dave was a brisk 20 minutes where he showed me the course and we chatted (I could just about chat) about where the gradients were and where the headwind would kick in and affect our split times. Then we lined up on a mild and breezy evening - around 12 degrees and 16mph - under starters orders. There was the minimum of fuss, a quick chat and a countdown then we were off en masse heading round the road loop. I was consciously holding back as I always go off too fast, but still the pace was by no means easy. KM 1 came around in 3.56 but with the headwinds on the next stretch I was down to 11.58 when we got to the second marker. A big pack to shelter in would have been nice but there wasn't one available - I was with a strung-out bunch and we all varied our pace so I tried not to let others dictate my speed, sticking to plan as best I could. The next KMs came around the right time - I was almost bang on 4 mins pace, so when the 4KM mark appeared I finally allowed myself to double up on the breathing (I'd been on 2 strides in, 2 strides out until then, feeling like I was just about staying in the aerobic zone) and push hard for the last stretch. Everyone else was doing the same of course but I did manage a kick at the end (of sorts) to run 19.47.

The ticket shows mile splits and the pace is surprisingly slow - I'm starting to doubt my times in Greece now and wonder if I ran a slightly short course out there when I did sub 12 for the 2 miler! Anyway 19.59 had been my target so to come in 12 secs better was good. In the final push I peaked at 185 bpm so I reckon that's close to my max and now I can work out my zones - something I've been wanting to do for a couple of years but not got round to!

All in all it was a very pleasing race - I came through it unscathed injury-wise which is a welcome relief after years of niggles and hit my time target with those 12 seconds to spare. So now I'm up to a 90 minute long run (slow jog) and 3 races in the space of a few weeks (10k, 2 miler, 5k) without any major aggro. If I can work on quality on the bike instead of just long, slow Audaxing then I might be able to arrive at the Cotswold Tri in decent shape.

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