January 9th 2017
Today I ran the monthly 5km race hosted at my work. On the first working Monday of every month a race is organised between all of our running club, and the running club of a company down the road. It’s a handicapped race which means that the start time is staggered for each runner depending on their previous PB. i.e, if my PB is 25:51, and another runner’s PB is 22:51 then I’d start exactly three minutes before him/her. This gives everyone a chance, because then you’d expect that the fast runners would catch up with the slow runners and you’d all finish at about the same time.
I’ve entered this race – dubbed ‘The Stark Winter Series’ – the last three months it’s been held, and until today I’ve…
My issue has always been that I go out to fast to begin with, try to overtake everyone as quickly as possible and then mentally and physically (but not literally) crash in the second half of the race. In the previous two races I’ve had to walk the last 2km because I got a stitch from running the first few too fast.
Today my plan was to pace myself better.
Because I’ve walked the previous two versions of this race, my PB time was slightly askew to perhaps what it should be. My actual 5km PB is 22:45, but my official race PB is 25:51 – for the aforementioned reasons.
That favourably slow PB meant that I started the race in 7th place, 5 minutes after the first runner set off. I tried to approach this race more tactically, and intelligently. Previously I’ve set off at 100mph (not literally, obviously) and tried to overtake the person in front of me before the first corner, but I realised today that I’ve got a whole 5km to steadily overtake them. So, I set myself an average pace of 4:40 min/km (which means that it should take 4 minutes 40 seconds to run one kilometre)
For the first two km I was there, or thereabouts.
At the halfway stage I was yet to pass anyone, there were still 6 people in front of me, and there were people on my tail, but I felt a lot better at this point than I had done on previous runs.
About halfway through the last race I had to walk for 200 metres because I’d run too fast at the start. I came second to last. Out of 20.
And the time before that I went way, way too fast at the start and ended the race at a gentle, 6:00min/km in dead last, out of 21. My first KM split was 3:50, and my last KM split was 5:42. There was almost 2 whole minutes difference between my first km and my last.
Even if you know nothing about running you can interpret that graph to be bad. My pacing was all over the pace and I suffered for it.
Today, my pacing was better.
At just gone halfway I passed two people, which put me into fifth place. A few hundred metres later I passed another. Fourth. I knew that the people in front of me were significantly slower. I worked out that if they started 5 minutes ahead of me, then their min/km would be 6, and I was aiming for 4:40. As long as I stayed at under 5 minutes I should’ve caught them.
I overtook the lady in third place as we passed a group of cows. The cows cost me 5 seconds, because I had to slow right down to let her go through first without spooking them.
With 900m to go I passed the lady in second. Or, at least, I thought she was in second place. At this point in the course there is a long, straight downhill segment, where I expected to be able to see the person who was in first place. But they were nowhere around. I assumed that he must’ve had a huge lead if I couldn’t see him.
So, I resigned myself to second place. I could see 400 metres in front of me, and he wasn’t there. So he would’ve been 500 metres from the end, and I wouldn’t’ve been able to catch him. So, I just kept going. My pace slowed a bit as I broke off from the lady in second place, but then the faster runners started to catch up a bit.
I checked over my shoulder every now and then, and the people who started after me had also caught up with those that started before me. So I had to maintain reasonable speed over the last KM to ensure that I wasn’t overtaken. My overall avg pace wasn’t too far off my fastest KM split, which proved my improved pacing.
I was happy with second after my previous debacles. In the last 400 metres one of the very quick runners started to gain ground pretty rapidly. But, I had enough left to up the tempo just a bit to get over the line in second place.
Except, I wasn’t in second place.
It turns out, that I wasn’t the seventh runner to start. I was the sixth runner to start. One of the runners who was supposed to start ahead of me dropped out earlier in the morning. So, when I overtook the lady who I thought was in second place, I was actually overtaking the winner.
So, I won.
It was a bittersweet victory, I won’t lie.
I mean, it was nice to win, but I didn’t feel like I’d run particularly fast. I’d just ran the race pretty well. I had a cushty lead thanks to my erroneous/favourable PB/starting time, and the people in front of me were all a lot slower than me.
It wasn’t a great win, but it was a win nonetheless.
Until tomorrow, pace yourself.