Old Father Time 5 Mile Race 2011

Having missed out on the excellent Merthyr Mawr 10k trail race (postponed because of the extreme weather in December) I was well pleased to grab a race at New Year - the easiest one to get to on a rare free day was the OFT in Cardiff, a veterans only race organised by the excellent Les Croupiers team who never disappoint. Pure running events with no rubbish to distract is what these runners serve up, so you get a good course, good organisation and a low price. Nice!

It was a bit like lining up for one of our Self-Transcendence races, with the start not far from the stables in Pontcanna Fields, but for once I was in the pack ready to run rather than having a stressful time getting marshals in position and trying to start on time!

I knew I was in "average" shape - not having a purple patch and not totally unfit - so I was aiming for sub 32 minutes.

Derek's briefing was mostly inaudible over the chatter of a very animated crowd of veterans (mostly club runners, mostly quite handy & mostly local) but I did hear the bit about the sleeping policemen which adorn the straight section. Once off I got into a rhythm on the wide roadway, pushing hard but trying to remember if was 5 miles not 2 miles and I had to hold something back. From the hubbub at the start, everything fell silent as soon as we were running - the only sound thte clatter of shoes on the wet road and the breeze in the bare trees above us. After weeks of snow and ice it was good to have a clear, ice-free road, but temperatures were still hovering close to freezing, chilling my arms and face. As we came to the turn near Sofia Gardens, I realised we hadn't seen a mile marker, and if there weren't any I would have to guess my pacing totally on how I felt - not a bad thing in a shortish race, I guess we all need to learn how to gauge our speed without looking at times and numbers. I thought I had it about right.

I kept a fairly even pace, edging ahead of some optimistic starters but losing ground to others who warmed up into a faster pace, and as the miles ticked by in the lovely parkland by the Taff I was really enjoying the sensations of pushing myself hard in a race again. Towards the end I was trying to catch the runners in front to keep my pace up, but there was no finishing surge left in me, and I eased over the line in 31.01 - well pleased with that but keen to kick on and get back to 30 minutes or even sub-30 which I have only managed the once!

Next blog entry is likely to be a race or a hike in Nepal. Interesting :)

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