This Wednesday 18th May saw the final race of the 2016 John Carr series for this year. This is the second time I have taken part and it is a series of 5k races that I look forward to more than enjoy taking part in!
The first race was more of a recce than a full blown, all out run. I was coming off some very good runs where I had been showing good pace on the flat and my climbing was improving to the point where I was passing people on the hills! This filled me with confidence and I decided to set a target of going under 25 minutes for the 5k at one of the races.
This may sound overly ambitious but the John Carr races have gained a reputation as races where you can set personal bests due to the course being set at Esholt Water Works and it is relatively flat which means fast times.
At the first race I was feeling good. My legs were a bit tired but nothing I wasn’t used to. I had a good warmup for the race although this was due to the fact that we parked about 2 miles away from the start which meant I had no choice but to run to the start and warmup.
The race went well. I felt good throughout the race and felt strong at the finish able to put in a sprint and beat some other runners to the line. My official time was 26:11, a new personal best, and I was happy with this. I felt it was a good indicator of my form and that a sub 25 was on.
The second race was a very different affair and brought me crashing back down to earth. I had, had a very stressful day at university finishing my final essay and then got back to my car to find my back window had dropped which meant a trip to the garage and no rest. This all added to the stress.
At the race I didn’t warmup as I should have done and set off far too fast passing one of my rivals within ½ k and continuing to pile on the speed. And then people started passing me and I had nothing left to respond with. My legs were moving but I felt I had no power or strength in them and I was going backwards. I looked at my watch and my pace had dropped to training pace and still I couldn’t go any faster. I wanted to stop there and then but pride and determination kept me going. The end couldn’t come quick enough and I managed to pick up speed and hold off some other runners but for me it had been a disaster. I still finished in a respectable 27:05 but everything that could go wrong had gone wrong and much of it was down to myself and how I approached the race.
For the final race I took a different approach. No stressing, it was only a race after all and do a warmup. I find a 5k difficult and you have to be on race pace from the off and for a well-built man like me it takes a while to warmup and get up to race pace. For distances such as 10k and ½ marathon this isn’t a problem, but for a 5k it is as you can soon find yourself being left behind and have nothing left to respond with as I did in race 2. You have to be on the pace from the off in a 5k and this is where the hard work comes in.
I set off at a comfortable pace, reminding myself to run my race and not someone else’s. I saw one of my rivals up ahead and decided to keep him in my sights rather than go after him and pass him early. I let myself get into the race and find my pace and soon I was steadily catching up to him and passed him around the 1mile mark.
I felt good, not my best by a long way but good enough to keep up the pace I was going and add a bit more if I needed to. My next rival was now up ahead and I was coming up on him fast. I passed him just after the ½ way mark and injected a bit more pace into my run as I wanted to make sure my move stuck and I didn’t have to race him again.
Then I began to struggle. My legs were on fire and my breathing was heavy and once again the thought of stopping briefly crossed my mind. But I dug deep and kept going. Although the course is described as flat the small hills that were on the course felt like mountains at this point as I tried to go faster and leave the runner who had decided to keep me company behind!
I crested the final small hill and saw the bright yellow finish which seemed a lot further away than in the other races. I was running at my maximum and I had nothing left to put in a sprint. All I could do was to keep my pace up and not give in.
I crossed the line a second in front of the runner who had tried to beat me. Another couple of feet and she would have done. The time was 25:43 a new personal best if not the sub 25 I was aiming for. I felt good. I had nothing left in me to run anymore so I was happy in the knowledge that I had done my best and giving everything I had on the night.
Overall I enjoyed my second John Carr series and I learnt a lot from it too. Preparation is key to these races and a good warmup is essential. Pacing yourself is all important too so you can finish strongly and I know that I can go sub 25 one day. But the most important thing is to enjoy your running and make the most of it while you can.