Sometimes you’ve got to grab the bull by the horns and hold on! That’s what I did this past Sunday, I made the last minute decision to race. After the high of Leeds, the rest of this month has been a low due to a very bad chest infection. I blogged about it the other week but it resulted in me missing the largest amount of time ever in my running career, long term it’s was the right decision and really allowed me to rest and recover. Short term though it meant I missed my target 5k race and it now looks likely that my 5k time this year will be my slowest since 2014. I know I’ve got a faster 5k time in me and I do think a sub 17 can happen but looks like it won’t happen this year.
I had looked at doing the Lancaster Winter Series 5k on Saturday but it’s a heck of a journey for a 5k and I also considered the Best 5k but having raced this in 2014 (which was that years PB time) I know it’s not the fastest of races. I looked at other races and always fancied Wilmslow. I got in touch with the team behind it and asked if they had any places and they sorted me out. The reason for doing the race is I wanted a test to see where I was in terms of fitness and how I’d recovered from the illness. I hadn’t tapered for this race like I did at Leeds, so I went into it with a full week of running in my legs, including two 10+ mile runs, 10 x 600m track session and then Thursday 20 x 300m track session. The top end speed was still there despite the recent difficult conditions. However, as those who do track and racing there is a massive difference then doing reps on a track and cranking out 6 miles at pace none stop.
So the weather wasn’t great with snow coming down as we drove over the Woodhead Pass. I had decided to keep the hair down and under a warm beanie. This meant when I got there I was incognito as dozens of people who know me walked past me. With my wife saying afterwards she heard runners saying “isn’t that Richard’s wife, but it can’t be he isn’t here?” Even Mick Hall who is always grabbing great shots of me didn’t realise I had raced till I spoke to him on Facebook that evening.
However, it was a blessing as it allowed me to get on with my job in hand. My aim was simple to run as fast as possible. I said to Sarah I’ve never achieved back to back sub 36 so that was my A goal. After listening to the PA moaning at the front runners for not joining in with all the prancing around, it was finally go time. Having looked at the profile on Strava, I knew it was a fast first 5k but a tough second 5k. I was sluggish out the start, not sure why but took me a km to get into my stride, I saw a fellow Harrier fly off, even though I beat him at Leeds (he would run sub 35 at this race!!) as the 1st km marker appeared I had settled into pace. I still found I was breathing a little harder, I put this down to the cold and recent chest issue.
But I did hit the 1st mile faster than at Leeds with a 5:33 (5:37 at Leeds), so far so good, the route was fast I will grant you that, the first half of the next mile continued in the same vein as I ran sub 5:30 pace on the fast bit before a slight climb up to the 2 mile buzz on watch. My split for mile 2 was 5:42 (5:41 at Leeds) so I was still running faster after 2 miles compared to Leeds, however, unlike Leeds I felt I was having to work harder to maintain the effort. Mile 3 was my last fast mile as the route started to bend round to the right before heading back up towards the finish. At Leeds this was the hardest part but here I managed another good mile with 5:45 (5:50 at Leeds). So at 3 miles I was 8s up on Leeds. If only I could have run the second half as well as Leeds…..
As it turns out I had to really dig deep in the 2nd half, just like Wilmslow HM, the 2nd 5k is a lot tougher, on the results you only have to look at the splits to see that everyone in top 50 ran positive splits some by up to a minute. The first hill was around 7k and it really slowed my pace as up to then I was still running quicker than Leeds but the climb meant when the 4th mile buzzed on the watch I clocked 5:54 (5:48 at Leeds), so in the space of a mile I had my lead cut to just 2s. I thought that was it for the hills but nope I was wrong as you basically climbed from 4.5 miles to 5.5 miles. I was seriously having to dig deep but I was bloody determined to at least get every mile under 6 minutes. I ended up at this point in a 3 way battle with all 3 off us taking turns to lead but I turned out to be the stronger on the climb so managed to pull away.
At Leeds the 5th mile was super fast however, at Wilmslow it was my slowest due to the climb, I recorded a 5th mile split of 5:59 (5:38 at Leeds), this meant my lead was gone and I was 23s down on Leeds. My average pace was now 5:47, I knew that was border line 36 minutes depending on how long the course was and if I had run the shortest racing line, however, the hill had really taken it’s toll on me and I really struggled to get pace going again, but as I entered the final KM I tried to pick it up as much as I could, but I left it a little too late as watch buzzed for 5:57 (5:52 at Leeds). My average pace was now 5:49, I kicked like I’ve never kicked before in the final 400m and I managed to cover the final bit of the race in 72s compared to 85s at Leeds. But the sub 36 wasn’t to be but only by 3s and in the end I was only 13s down on Leeds and looking back had the second half not been as tough I would have run at least around the same time as Leeds but it was my 2nd fastest time this year and I’ve only ever run quicker 3 times in the past, one of those was only 1s quicker! So it shows I’ve not really lost much with my illness. However, me being me I was gutted not to have dipped under 36 again.
I could have tried running a faster first 5k but 17:36 split was faster than Leeds and is only 5s off my official season best time. I’m now looking at running a good time at Telford on the 10th and then hoping to follow that up with another quick time at Ribble Valley on the 31st. Then it’s a tough month of XC Championship races before I begin to target all my road race times in 2018.
- 54th in 36:03
- Ron Hill Club Vest
- Zeon 6 inch Racing Shorts
- Adidas climatecool baselayer
- Adidas Adios 3 racing flats
- Sockmine Griplock lightweight running socks
- Garmin 220