Six seconds in twelve months
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!