The rival who is hard to beat
Half Marathon Eve 5k Race
No running for two days (stiff and sore) then still bothered during a treadmill run on the Thursday. My confidence was shot well before jogging a short warm-up on Saturday afternoon. I started next to Brian Wenn, a rival of mine who has always been very hard to beat. When I was in my twenties it was virtually impossible — Brian was a sub-35 10k runner when I was running 37 minutes. As we aged, the performance gap narrowed (helped by Brian's injury-prone stop/start training leading to him spending more time on the golf course and less on the running tracks and trails). Brian is 66, so more experienced than myself to the tune of eight years. Is that why he's so good? His recent form was a little intimidating — 22:14 for the Stromlo 5k in March.
We raced off, together for the first 400 metres, in (distant) pursuit of the fast starting Jim (who would split 4:17 for the first kilometre). Brian gradually edged ahead, metre by metre. I was running ragged, feeling close to my limit. After 1k I found myself closing on a couple of kids and Jim. Woohoo, he's slowing! But not Brian! The third k up the little hill past the Yacht Club was my slowest, but I was now holding the gap to Brian. On the return journey there was nothing I could do to close in, even though I passed a slowing young boy. This race is hard! Even though I was unaware of time splits, I felt we were running quickly — faster than the "I'll be happy with 23" Brian declared on the start line. The last k was a slog but I still 'sprinted' the grass finish straight. 29th place (out of 56 finishers) and 22:55, with Brian running 22:46. Another 'loss', but it had been good fun. Love racing!
Afterwards, the Garmin showed my splits: 4:32, 4:34, 4:49, 4:34 and 4:24. It had been a lovely warm, late autumn afternoon race (more to my liking than the freezing Parkrun early morning starts). A week later, my hip and knee are feeling normal and I'm looking forward to more battles with Brian — hoping we can both edge down to a sub-22 5k.