Sunday, 14 December 2014

Series victory - a year of work comes down to a 200 metre sprint at the end of a race!!

I had a handful of running targets for 2014.  After having Daniel at the end of February I aimed primarily for a marathon PB (as mentioned in my last post).  I also wanted to work on my speed and so hoped i should be able to achieve a 5km PB too. Given the way I was able to run back in my hey-day (2008-2009) these PBs were both pretty soft.  They still are in the grand scheme of things but a PB is a PB.
Another target I had, which I have kept to myself all year, was to try and win our club 5km handicap series for 2014.  All the runners are given handicapped starts based on their recent form/performances and points are applied at each race depending on where you finish.  The idea is that over the course of the year the person who has improved the most wins.  It's a great scheme for the club to run as it means that it gives EVERYONE a chance to be rewarded for their hard work, not just those who are fastest and are accustomed to getting awards/prizes.  The key is to continually work hard, put the effort in and try your absolute hardest in every race.
Going into the final race of the series it was mathematically possible for 6 people to win the series, and I was one of them.  Five of the runners (myself included) had to achieve a certain minimum number of points AND finish ahead of the current series leader.
After running a PB last month I was doubtful that I would achieve what I needed at the race, and when I was given my handicap time, starting 2 full minutes behind the series leader my head dropped.  And it remained down for the entire first lap of the race.  I was working as hard as I could, but the freezing conditions meant my legs were feeling really stiff and slow and I just couldn't find my pace at all.  I couldn't see anyone in front of meant I thought my whole year was lost.
With 1.25 miles to go I was passed by another runner.  Although faster than me, he wasn't pulling away and I decided to try and use him to pull me along mentally.  Not long after he passed I caught a glimpse of the series leader far in the distance and that gave me a real mental boost.  The gap seemed too much to close down but I knew I had to give it my best shot.  I hadn't worked all year to give up with just over 1 mile left.  Then another runner passed me; a fellow possible series victory contender.  He was moving very well and closing down on the series leader.  I was worried if he passed the leader then they might spur each other on and I would struggle to close the gap.  I was still keeping up with the other runner that had overtaken me and we were closing down the series leader.  She hadn't responded to the other runner passing her so with half a mile to go I passed her.  I wondered if she would have a final kick and I was also unsure how many runners were ahead of me (and therefore would I win enough points from the race) so i thought if I am going to have a chance of winning outright I would need to try and find one last surge to re-overtake the runner who had passed me earlier.  A quarter mile to go and I found a gear I didn't realise I had.  I think sometimes these gears can only be found in these crucial moments where everything hangs in the balance.   I went ahead, I took the racing line and I put the afterburners on.  Down under the underpass; he was still right behind me. Up the other side; he was still there.  In my mind I had 200 meters in which I would either win or lose the victory I had so desperately worked for all year.  I was red-lining like never before.  I was running faster than I thought was possible for me.  When you are so close to acheiveing something amazing things can happen if you want it enough.  I finished ahead of him.
Amazing = 5:27 minute miling for the final 200 metres!  I have never managed to run that fast, ever, not even when doing 200 metre reps!!
I had done all I would but still couldn't be sure whether it was enough.  I checked on my finishing position before I left.  I thought it was enough but i didn't want to get excited until I had got the confirmation email from the organiser.  That came early on Friday morning.  I had done it!!  I jumped around like a loony-tune much to the amusement of my children.  I was so, so pleased.  That is what I worked hard for.  All those speed sessions the track and the sessions on the treadmill.  Finally an 'official' piece of recognition for what I have been trying so hard to achieve.

Next weekend is my final running event of the year.  Barcelona 12 hour race.  I entered on impulse back in the summer, and if I hadn't already paid for flights etc and made arrangements I would happily not go.  I haven't had the chance to do the necessary training for it.  I am still not 100% after having the chest infection and whilst you can get away with that over 5k, a 12 hour race is a whole different ballgame.  It will very much be an exercise in pain endurance rather than anything else.  I just hope not to embarrass myself when running round the same track as world class athletes.  I will target a PB and hopefully I can manage that. (It's that long since I ran an ultra, and even longer since I ran them regularly that I feel like a complete newbie!)

This time next week and i will be done and I can start thinking about next year's plans and my new training approach that I am going to be trying out.