Sunday was hot! In fact we had the hottest Easter on record. It made for a lovely weekend and the family and I made the most of it, with trips out everyday. However, when it comes to racing it wasn’t great conditions.
I have fancied doing this 5 miler for a long time but for one reason or another I never got to do it. Well this year the race fell perfectly in my plans. The training had been going to plan and I was fresh off a new 5k PB. After York and Elvington I knew if everything clicked on the Sunday, my 5 mile PB I set in December 2016 was in danger of falling. I had run a good fast 3 miles at Elvington only for the wind to slow me down for last 2 miles. I had gone faster over 5k a week last Thursday at York, so I knew what was required.
The journey down was an early start over the Woodhead but it was quiet on the roads and was uneventful. I did feel tired Sunday morning and looking back running 7 miles down the Blackpool seafront in 22°C heat wasn’t a great idea! However, sometimes you’ve got to take the opportunity to run in places you wouldn’t normally do unless it was a race. So back to Sunday. My plan going into it was to aim to keep first 3 miles under 5:40/mi pace (the same as my previous 2 races) and then dig in and aim to run both my last miles faster then Elvington. If that worked I’d beat my previous 5 mile time,a strong possibility of sub 29 and if everything went to plan a new personal best. However, me and heat do not get on. I have always struggled in heat. Now it wasn’t scorching Sunday morning but there was no hiding from the sun. After arriving we must have walked a mile to the start inside the park. The start/finish was on grass (personally not a fan but that was what I had to deal with). After a quick trip to the toilet. I made my way to the start area and the start was delayed which meant I had been in the direct sun for over 10 minutes.
A quick 3-2-1 and we were off and it was a sluggish start from me and I soon found myself down the field as we went up and out the park. As we hit the access road a bloke in front of me lost his footing on the speed bump and went down so I had to hurdle him to avoid going down. I got going again as I headed left and round Hale before heading out towards Halebank. I was flying as we ran out the village and was moving through the field, I was in sight of the lead pack but it felt a real effort after just half a mile. The first mile 5:36. 10s slower then I wanted. However, I had not expected to bake as much as we were. After first mile I ended up on my own. Too far off the leaders to close the gap and I never ease off to run with others. So I had to run the majority of the race on my own. Something I’m getting used to but it does make it harder I think. Plus from the first mile to 3.5 it was a gradual up hill and it meant I was having to really work hard.
A year ago I’d have lost it mentally and just slowed but now I have a stronger mental strength and kept pushing myself I was in the top 10. I dropped a place after 2 miles (he would go on to finish 5th) But as the race went on the gap to those in front was closing. Mile 2 though was again slower then planned in 5:44. However, instead of getting worked up I knew based on my last two miles I had lost 29s & 25s in mile 4 and mile 5 compared to mile 3. So it meant I had a cushion. I knew the heat was playing a part so my plan was to get every mile under 6 minutes something I had not achieved in a long time.
With that in mind I was at halfway and expected to see a drinks station due to the heat. Normally anything under a HM I’d have run past but with heat I felt a quick sip and over head would have cooled me down. However, there was no water station at all! Mile 3 was a drag and again was slower then planned in 5:54. So at this point at Elvington I had run 16:40, I had run Hale in 17:14. Down by 34s, at this point my aim of my minimum target of beating my Elvington time had gone out the window. Mile 4 was still a slight uphill till just after 3.5 miles. On a cooler day it wouldn’t have been an issue but I could feel I was working really hard. However, there was a short downhill section. This seemed to wake me up and I seemed to get my second wind. I also noticed as mentioned the gap was closing and those in front were also struggling. I could see there was another climb to come so I really pushed hard to make up time. This meant mile 4 was 5:56 (those following this meant I had clawed back 14s) Not knowing that and at Elvington my average pace was 5:47 but my watch got it over 5 miles. When in fact my actual average pace had been 5:50, I had 5:49 on my watch as I entered the final mile.
The final climb took it out of me and I got caught. I failed to respond which annoyed me. However, I then glanced at watch and saw it had hit 5:50 avg pace and then decided to kick early and entered park giving it everything. I could see clock still saying 28:XX but just like York 5k I couldn’t get it under 29 and came over in 29:05. Somehow I had clawed back the 34s and actually gained 4s on Elvington. It was all done in the final two miles.
Looking back i’m really pleased that despite not going to plan I didn’t give up like I’ve done before but dug deep and managed to actually pull a performance to look back on out the bag. For me it bodes well for the future as I know i’m stronger then I’ve been before in the back end of longer races and with my plan both short and long term this is only going to improve.
It wasn’t the perfect result and that’s 4 races where I’ve been just a few seconds the wrong side of a major time break through. If I keep chipping away I firmly believe ALL my personal bests will tumble over next year. I’ve not got another 5 miler till August but I do think that is weather dependent as would only do it to chase a time if it’s scorching then no point in busting a gut for nothing. I liked the course and think it is fast on a cooler day. Downside was the long walk to/from the car. The medal and Easter egg was very much appreciated.
- Position: 9th
- Time: 29:05
- Strava Record
- Kit Used: Xempo Vest, Arsuxeo 2in1 shorts, Sockimine Black Griplock Lightweight socks, ND:R Sunglasses