Before I start, let me start with the traditional, annual posting of The Clash's Train In Vain. I know it's a break-up song for Viv Albertine of The Slits by Mick Jones, but the sentiment in the title, train in vain, speaks to me as a jobbing age-grouper. Train in vain.
Train with no reasonable expectation of doing Anything with that training. It's frustrating. Here we are in June, fricking June, and I've raced one. The running club's track meet. A one miler and a two miler back in February more for fun than anything else. Wow. Glad I put all those miles in. You see, I've done a shed-load of miles this year. How much is a shed-load nowadays? It's about 1700 kms. That's a metric shed-load. An Imperial shed-load would be about 1050 miles. By any standards that's a long fucking way. Ironman snobs can fuck right off about now, but yes it is.
I finally got to race ten days weekend at the Penguin Run,a 10 miler in Enfield. It's a rolling out-and-back. It was a bit of a late entry as I only found out late that I wasn't working and was able to go. It was a hot day. Obviously singlet weather. I had a major fashion crisis. Do I go with the tried and tested Halifax Running Club singlet or do I rock my new Marathon Maniacs singlet? I really wanted to wear the MM singlet, it was, after all brand new, never been worn. But can one wear an MM singlet in a race other than a marathon? The consensus was yes. The MM singlet is earned and so you can wear it when you want. It might not be appropriate attire for the office but it would be just fine for the Penguin 10 miler.
The 5km and the 10 miler lined up together. The trick here was to self-seed a few rows back so as not to get caught up with the 5. As a Timex Series race this year, the 5 was almost a who's who of local running, so not getting caught up in their race for the first mile and a half was vital.
After a kilometer I was in a small group with Dave Holder and Matt Callaghan, both in the ten, and a few 5 km runners, including fourth lady on the road, Maura Wieczorak. We set a reasonable pace, a six-minute mile for the first mile, enough for us to consider slowing down a fraction. At the 1.5 mile turn we we surprised to see a guy ahead of us, we had thought we were the lead trio. Is he one of us? He had the lead car so yes he was. What to do? We thought we'd sit tight and see if he came back to us.
After another mile it was clear he hadn't done a Matt Callaghan and gone screaming off the front. Already I though we'd lost the win and settled down for a more tactical run for second. I made some crack about this is where Rami come steaming by and asks why we're hanging around but was quite surprised for something like this to actually happen.
It wasn't Rami but Leo McCosham who came steaming by at three miles. I thought he might slow down and join the group but he just cruised right on by. I looked around and my two companions were not showing any signs of moving so i quickly jumped and closed the gap to Leo's heels while it was still possible. It was like bike-racing again, but in slow motion!
Behind me, neither Dave or Matt were trying to close so i was on my own with Leo. We were doing 3:4m per kilometer. I didn't last long and was dropped by Leo in very short order. I had a decision to make; try and get Leo's heels back and likely blow up PDQ, drop back to my erstwhile group and likely get worked over by Matt n' Dave in the finale, or try and hang my ground in a no-mans-land. I chose to stay. I felt pretty good and concentrated on setting a steady pace. It was soon clear that i was slowly putting time into Dave and Matt whilst not conceding too much to Leo. In fact there was quite the yo-yo going on as i would grind up to Leo on the uphill and he would pull away on the downhill. There was precious little flat! Meanwhile Ian up front was slowly drawing away from us all.
With about three miles to go a few things became apparent. I wasn't catching Leo. Dave and Matt weren't catching , it was really hot and i might break the hour. Of all these things, the hour was the cool one. I think my 10 mile PB is 64 minutes.
The important thing was to keep my rhythm. I tried not to think about it too much and concentrate on keeping the pace. At 8 miles my legs started to get heavy but I still kept them going around. Somehow. I tried not to look at my Garmin too much. The hour was still a possibility.
The last 500 m were an eternity. I wasn't looking at my watch any mote, just focused on the line. The last 100 m was hill. All i could think off was the guy Doug Hyami resuscitated at the Ottawa half three weeks ago.
Ever wonder why the last mile of a marathon as all the deaths? Why does mile 26 see significantly more deaths (and the Doctor in me makes me chose my words with scientific care) than mile 25? The International Marathon Medical Directors Association can almost predict where people, will keel over; they call it the x-spot. You see, for the last three hours you've been running at a steady state, steady pace. Suddenly you see the finish-line. This is the x-spot. You try and put in a burst to the finish-line, be it for a PB, a BQ or just because.
I have always thought of these last minute, half-assed sprints as uncool, even if I've done my fair share in my time (but in my defence they were all a long time ago when I was much younger!). If you had that energy for a silly, worthless sprint against yourself you would have been better off metering that effort out over the course. Instead of sprinting for whole seconds, you could have whole minutes. Muppets. Anyway, now there is a nice medical reason for not going insane in the finishing chute, as well as the stylistic argument. Suddenly your heat-stressed, dehydrated, over-caffienated, hyponatreamic body is put under even more stress and if you have a predisposition to a cardiac arrhythmia then bingo, out it pops and down you go.
This wasn't a marathon but I'd been on the red-lime for an hour! My Garmin gave me an average of 177 bpm for the hour. I hit 184 over the finish line as I tried to break the hour even by a second. I saw the clock tick over the hour a few meters out.
There's a picture that seems to show me slowing before the line, I think this was whem the clock ticked over. I was gutted. Still, a PB by goodness knows how much. I clung to third and even double-dipped for second -place master. Not a bad morning's work. La belle also placed third overall and we have a matching set of plaques.
Next up this weekend the Johnny Miles full. I feel like i have unfinished business with this race. The course had ,e last year but i don't think it was the course that had me but my lack of preparation that jad me. So I'm going back and this time it's kinda personal. Let's see shall we?