So after coming so close to a personal best at the York 5k series, I stupidly rushed up and signed up for the Sale Sizzler. This was against not only my better judgement but also my wife’s. I’ve never had a good performance despite it being a stacked field and always produces fast times. For some reason it never clicks for me. I’ve done it at least once every year since 2015 as until last year was one of few places to get a decent 5k but with the arrival of Leeds and York I didn’t plan on doing it this year. But after York I felt a stronger field would help pull me to a faster time.
It was a crazy day leading into it as I had to be up and out early for a run and then spent the morning enjoying my daughters sports day. To know and see how ill she was between Feb and May, it left a lump in my throat seeing her take part. It did mean I was in direct sunlight all morning and I just could not lower my body temperature. The drive over was hot as felt like I was in a greenhouse in the car. For once we managed to avoid any traffic issues and arrived in plenty of time to pick number up and chat to other runners etc.
After going off hard at York, I made the choice to try a different race tactic. Now every where you read etc tells you the best way to run is evenly or negative split. The polar opposite to how I race. However unless you try stuff you don’t learn what works and what doesn’t. I knew a Chorlton Runner who runs sub 17 and on start line heard a few Sale runners also planning 17 mins. So I made decision not to go out hard but to stay with these runners and see how race went.
So the gun went and off we went round the track, I managed to get out the blocks well and I held back as we looped round and out of the ground. Through the car park and along the rough path that led us to the park. I had the Chorlton runner just in front and the Sale runner near me but I just didn’t feel relaxed or racing how I wanted. The route took us on the access road and I stayed close to my targets but it felt harder than a first mile usually does as we exited the park and ran on the path. The first mile buzzed in 5:26. Perfect if you could run even splits and want to run a sub 17 5k. Not so good if you are me. It was 10s slower then I had raced first mile the previous week. I then pressed button on watch so could track my 2nd mile. However unbeknown to me it had not swapped, so when I checked my pace it wasn’t my mile pace but my average pace. The aim had been to run another sub 5:30 mile and as I raced back along the road and into the park to complete the first loop. I felt I was on pace. The Chorlton runner had pulled away by this point but I stuck to my plan…..
However the 2nd mile came and said 5:38, WTF and looked properly at watch to realise the screen had not turned over. I was fuming at myself for a stupid mistake and I lost my head and the last mile I had given up in my head. I was hot, annoyed and could easily have stopped but after I past last KM marker, I sorted my head out and picked up pace and had I known how close I was to sub 17:30 I would have sprint finished. Instead I equalled my course PB in 17:32. But for me it was a bad performance. I still feel like I had a sub 17 in me if I can get it right. However what this race told me was I need to run my own race and not anyone elses. I now know while its not the most efficient way to run a race, my way of racing works for me. I need that fast first mile, then I settle into my natural race rhythm, plus when I fade in the back end I have time in the bank that means I get better times. As I said it might not be for everyone but it works for me and holding back like at Sale where it back fired massively does not.
Thankfully I’m racing again this week at Leeds at a course I like so I’m hoping that Sale was a blip and I can knock out a decent time. Anything better then Sale means heading right way again. Target tonight is to beat my course PB of 17:23.