Thursday, October 09, 2014

Racing the Old Blokes

On Saturday morning I raced my 44th Parkrun 5k, which happened to be on International Parkrun Day. There were a record 320 finishers at Tuggeranong, no doubt helped along by the beautiful calm morning with a hint of Spring warmth in the air. My pre-race plan was to run hard and see if I could improve my 22:52 Parkrun PB.

I arrived a little late so warmed up with a short jog and 3 strides. Our race director had set up a rather narrow start chute so my usual grid position produced a momentary delay of 5 seconds or so before I was up and running. I was wearing the Hoka Cliftons — the super cushioned and stunningly light (265 grams, size 13) training shoe. The harder Kinvaras may have been faster, but my legs are liking cushioned shoes! After 500 metres I found myself running behind a lady with a dog on a lead — she on one side of the path and the dog on the other. Should I resurrect my steeplechase skills and hurdle the lead? Ah, maybe not! It wasn't long before I was able to get past and settle into a steady (hard) tempo.

Passing the Maccas morning breakfast crowd I looked up ahead and saw my rival Jim taking the sharp left turn that leads under the bridge. Wow, that's quite a lead! As we turned onto the concrete footbridge I could see that Jim had formed a group with two other old blokes, Paul and Graeme, with younger bloke John along for the ride. Their advantage was about 75 metres but I could sense it was slowly reducing. I didn't feel like I was speeding up (which was proved by my post-race splits). Maybe they've started too fast? At the half-way turn I was closer and felt like a catch was inevitable. I hope it happens before the last 100 metres! As we ran off the bridge onto the west side of the lake the small downhill gave me the momentum to overtake John and Graeme then Paul and Jim in quick succession. 1k to go! I ran as hard as I could, fearful of Graeme's final sprint (which he used to defeat me in an earlier Parkrun).

Now I was using young blokes and kids as unofficial pacers, racing along beside the lake and readying myself for the final speed-bump of a hill into the park. Up and over, then a modest (it felt devastating!) sprint to the finish. Stopped the Garmin after the line, pretty pleased to see 22:52 (official time was 22:54, so agonisingly short of a new Parkrun PB). Never mind, I'd had a good race! I think the additional cycling training I've been doing is starting to produce results. I still don't feel 'fast', but I feel strong which is a good place to be. My average heart-rate for the race had been 146, so a pleasingly low 669 heart-beats per kilometre. One kilometre splits were 4:38, 4:34, 4:34, 4:35 and 4:33 (the first closer to 4:32 taking into account the delay at the start). This coming Sunday I'm racing the  Melbourne 10k, looking forward to it as a catch-up-with-friends holiday rather than a race. I hope the weather is typically Melbourne-perfect!

Jim, unknown young bloke, Paul and Graeme still ahead approaching the 2k marker

 Chasing old blokes in my cushioned, light Hoka Clifton slippers

Heart-rate trace from the race with a bump at 1k to go and max of 161 at the end of my 'sprint' finish


Blogger Cecilia said...

Nice recap - am trying to get back into blogging a bit more, so I look forward to reading more of these recaps! :)

I have to agree that cycling definitely helps you generally feel better when you go for a run! Everything just seems to feel more efficient and you can push a tempo for longer. I'm still on my self-imposed cycling ban, so all this springtime weather is really frustrating!

12:10 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

You should have hurdled that lead Ewen! That's a mighty time all the same. Nice splits to finish, well done. Back to the drawing board for those 'old blokes' I reckon.

1:03 pm  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

Yes, never ever let anyone older than you beat you. Good work finishing ahead of the old 65+ runners. Incidentally it must be ages since Jim too finished ahead of Paul?

2:05 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Cecilia. Clever to time your cycling ban to coincide with magpie season ;) The duration of my bike rides (90 minutes +) makes the Parkrun seem short - even though you're wishing it was over at 3k if you're having a bad one ;)

Mark, I reckon not doing that cost me at LEAST 3 seconds!

Speedygeoff, that's right. I think Paul was running 'with Jim' until Jim got away right at the end.

2:32 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

Nice race!

3:11 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

Nice - I've never ever managed to produce splits that were anywhere near as even as that.

Next time hurdle that lead but make sure there is a photographer nearby - nothing ever beats a spectacular faceplant!

10:30 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Nice splits, but...would have liked to see that last one a bit faster. Got to pick it up from 600m to go, not 60. :)
That's a lot of 5Ks. You blokes are lucky to have these races. If it was tried in japan, there would be not 320, but 3,200 people show up, so it's basically impossible.

1:15 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Lize!

Thomas I'll do that just for you - and smile as I'm planting my face :)

Bob, yes I know. Felt like I WAS picking it up! Lack of intervals/speedwork is showing there - no reserve of speed at all. Amazingly there were 1700 finishers at the Bushy Parkrun in the UK last week. 300 is almost too many on a narrow 5k course.

8:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job and almost a PB! Congrats on your 44th Parkrun, amazing splits!

12:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am impressed by your forbearance in lining-up well back in the pack at the start of a serious PB attempt. But in light of your short warm-up, perhaps is good that you were not stampeded into a fast start along with the impetuous oldies.

3:58 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Before of all congrats again on your race. The Parkruns help to improve the speed. In Italy we don't have this kind of races. I remember that during the last local elections I supported a politicians who promised to organize here the Parkrun.... but the things went wrong.

9:44 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Anna. I think my splits are good because I have no reserve of speed!

Canute, I've given myself a pat on the back for lining up in the "correct" spot. It was a bit nerve-wracking being momentarily stationary after hearing "Go!"

Stefano, I hope eventually Parkrun comes to your neck of the woods. They're a fantastic and friendly group of people.

11:19 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Yes, ARU made a call. But in this period I am too busy.... I am sorry at the moment I cannot help the Wallabies. I am sure you understand......

5:49 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

But I don't understand Stefano. We desperately need you! Name your price!

11:37 am  

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