Spring has sprung and a race has been run.
It did not, to move quickly to the point, go exactly how I wanted it to. I did not run the time I imagined that I would. In fact, the pace that I did run (37:09, I was hoping to at least come close to breaking 36) felt pretty shitty compared to when I’ve run faster in training.
The course was reasonably tough: an undulating countryside course across roads and narrow, awkward, pavements. The hills weren’t quad busters, but it’s not a traditional PB course. For 10k road racing though, I thought it was completely brilliant. The gently shifting topography of the two 5k laps made things more exciting than the contrastingly tepid racing track courses which have grown, recently, increasingly popular for nabbing PBs on.
A mass start event on this course would really be something to get our teeth into.
Yet, tough as it was, do I really want to put lay down my lacklustre performance on the course difficulty? When I say difficult it really is only in comparison to something completely flat.
No, I reckon there are a couple of other, internal factors which I have to look at.
Firstly, tiredness. I’m back at the track and up to 4 days out from the race I was still working hard. There have been big mileage weeks on top of intensive track training, which has been taking me to speeds well beyond what I was doing on the roads on my lonesome during lockdown. Adaptation takes time and chances are my body hasn’t actually fully processed being back at the track yet, meaning I won’t be seeing the benefits of that training yet. It may well be sapping my performance, for now. True progress is never linear.
Secondly, experience. My head went, I have to admit. As I ran through 2 miles, already down on my expected pace, things weren’t feeling as smooth as I had envisioned. Although I was never going to stop, I didn’t feel like I could, or wanted, to get things moving any quicker. In part that might well be due to tiredness, but I couldn’t get over that mental hurdle you have to leap when, with 4 miles to go, you realise it is going to be an absolute slog, that it isn’t going to come easy, that you can’t just cruise through the first 5k and turn things up on the second because you already feel like crap.
There is a simple remedy for this issue, as far as I can see. Race more. More experience, more courses, more competition. It’s what I imagined for myself when I turned things up in my training last year, when I thought we would still get a summer of racing in 2020.
It’s what, it seems, we have now.
Race one in the bag. Let’s see what’s next.