A Tale of Two Races
The funny thing is, just a week earlier I enjoyed a positive race experience. This was in the YCRC 'Spring Series' 5k road event (Boathouse East), out and back by the Molonglo River. Strangely, I had a quite awful warm-up jog with Speedygeoff. Legs were so tired and lifeless that when Geoff suggested he was going to run a tempo effort "5 minutes per kilometre sounds good", I decided to tag along.
The start was on a wide sandy beach for about 100 metres before the course narrowed to a 2-person bike path. So there was a bit of a rush initially to position ourselves into a roughly sensible order. I felt we were running quicker than 'fives', but went with the flow, staying with a loose pack that included Geoff, Robert, Graeme, Bob, Lucy and Emily. My Garmin beeped at 1k and I took a quick glance — 4:26! "I thought you said 'fives' Geoff!" With that I decided to ignore the watch and to actually race the race. I'm so glad I did that. I really enjoyed myself.
I relaxed and thought about tactics. Do I stay with this group for a while longer? Try to bridge a gap now? That sort of thing. We were running with a tailwind (in our faces for the second half), which also made tactics important. Up ahead I could see my old rival Jim, ultra expert Pam, and a young girl named Hannah. I managed to keep what felt like a fast/smooth rhythm going to the turn-around while steeling myself for the effort against the headwind. Geoff meanwhile, had disappeared out of sight. Obviously four-thirties was too slow for his tempo effort! I gradually gained ground on Jim, catching him at the last little rise with 1k to go. Pam was next, then Hannah. The youngster rallied and we were virtually side by side for the last 500 metres. Rounding the Boathouse we met the full force of the headwind and the prospect of a sprint-finish on the beach. I could also see the clock relentlessly clicking over (as clocks do), and realised we'd be under 23 minutes. Wow, that's not bad in these conditions! I fired up the fast-twitch muscles and gave it all I had. Hannah was up for it though and with a final surge, beat me to the line. The nerve! We'd both run 22:48.