Sunday, June 03, 2012

Six seconds in twelve months

Yesterday afternoon I raced in the 'Longstaff 8k' cross country event at Weston Park. The race is named after local running pioneer Rosemary Longstaff, who ran 2:43:03 in the '81 Boston Marathon (which was the 88th fastest female marathon time in the world that year). I've run this race quite a few times over the years, including the 3-lap (12k) and now thankfully defunct 4-lap versions. In 2004 I ran 79:54 for the 16k version (The Jack Pennington Trophy Race). This year I ran at a slightly slower pace for half the distance — 40:10 for 8k.

Once again I'm quietly encouraged by this result in what turned out to be a strange race. It was a glum afternoon but thankfully the rain held off while we were racing. Course wasn't fast — although the grass was short, it was wet and the run over one of the beaches was slower than usual as the beach had been 'ploughed' for some unknown reason. What made the race strange was my choice of tactics. After the initial settling down period following the start I had to decide who to run with on the first downhill 800m straight. I could see Pam up ahead and I knew she was a 21:30 or so 5k runner. At the time I happened to be in the company of Andy and Geoff, both capable of under 21 minutes for 5k on a good day. So my choice was "do I go, or do I stay?" I chose to stay and ran comfortably down the hill rather than pushing hard to get onto Pam's shoulder.

For the first 2k I ran along with a chatty Geoff and easy running Andy. At one point long-term rival Charlie edged ahead but I felt so easy I wasn't worried about eventually closing that gap. My legs felt amazingly good! I was running along with a nice feeling stride, breathing and heart-rate both comfortable. I moved ahead of Andy (Geoff had dropped back a little) and while we were crossing the first beach Andy alerted me to a loose shoe-lace. What the?! I must have forgot to double-knot them! I stopped to tie the recalcitrant lace, loosing 10 seconds or so in the process, which gave Andy and Geoff a small break. For the rest of the race I ran fairly hard but couldn't make up the lost ground. Geoff in fact took off in the last 2k, running strongly to finish in 39:06. Andy also increased the gap, finishing in 39:45. Meanwhile I'd managed to pass a fading Charlie.

On the face of it I've only improved my time for The Longstaff by six seconds in a year. For this race though my average heart-rate was 144 (150 last year), so obviously it was a much better performance (even accounting for the possible loss of a beat or two from my maximum HR that Canute mentioned in a comment on my last post). Bring on the next race!

My heart took a rest when I stopped to tie my shoe-lace


Blogger Grellan said...

What accounts for the other 4 beats per minute lost compared to last year???

6:19 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Grellan, last year I raced flat-out from the gun whereas this year the first 2k was more like tempo effort (which shows in the graph). Also, last year I took a rest day the day before - I find it easier to push the HR to racing levels if I've had a rest day or a couple of easy days leading in to a race.

4:25 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Yay on "quietly encouraged". :) The heart doesn't lie and an untied're obviously doing good work, Ewen. Congratulations on the improvement!

11:28 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

Despite having the shoelace issue, it sounds like things are still going nice and smoothly for you. Great job on the race!

1:14 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Flo! I can hear your vocal encouragement from down here ;)

Thanks Lize - it was a fun race. We don't get to compete on many 'true' cross country courses these days.

6:46 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

I wouldn't be bending down to tie my shoe laces in any race call "Longstaff" I'll give you the drum!

9:19 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Pay that one Scott! I hear Jerry Seinfeld is looking for an opening act ;) By the way, if I ever get to race you I'll make sure you're leading just in case I have another shoe lace malfunction.

6:51 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

6 seconds + the time lost for the shoe lace.
It is a very very good finishing time on a wet path on the beach and on the grass.
And now it's time of rugby test-matches.

1:29 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Sounds like some serious progression going on and a fun race. I think the next time I'm in a close race with someone maybe I'll yell at them "your shoelace is coming undone" and try and gap them then and there... However You are going well! Keep going!

4:06 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Stefano. Go Italy! Um, I mean the Wallabies!

Thanks Jonathon - yes, try that tactic - more gentlemanly than the old hip and shoulder on a tight turn ;)

5:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Combining a substantial volume of low or moderate intensity running with frequent social racing can be an enjoyable route to getting very fit, especially if the social running has a bit of ‘anti-social’ spice – ‘how can I beat the guy who beat me last time?’ From time to time the planets will line up but other times your shoe laces come loose.

7:24 pm  

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