Monday 11 April 2011

Peopleton Scenic Six - a last-minute addition to the schedule

Yesterday, after humming and hawing about I would do with my weekend run, I woke up and headed off for a local, six mile multi-terrain race.  The Scenic Six raises money for St. Richard's Hospice, a local charity, and is always well attended by our club.  So, rather than spend yet another long and lonely morning in the hills, I decided to do a bit of speed work and enjoy the countryside with some friends.  Unfortunately, I didn't go out with a camera, so there are no pictures of the young lambs gamboling in the fields near the race start/finish.

To get some extra mileage on my last "long run" day before the next marathon, I popped on my road shoes and took an easy 5k warm-up along the early part of the course.  The sun began to beat down and push the temperature to a pleasant 18 degrees.  It would be the first vest day of the year!  Back at the car, I peeled off the layers and put on my off-roaders.

Twenty-five Evesham Vale runners took to the start.  When the horn sounded, the leaders shot ahead, the middle-pacers went off (generally too fast, but enjoying the fast road section), and I tried my best to move gently through the runners I'd placed between me and the speedsters in an effort to avoid going off too quickly.

With some effort and a good deal of attention to my Garmin, I managed to keep my pace under control.  Two years ago, I'd attempted this course with a "go hard and see how long it lasts" strategy.  I wanted to see how I would go.  It wasn't fun.  This time, I wanted to average around 7:30/mile, or 85% of my heart rate, whichever was faster.

The first two miles are on the road, ending in a nice drag that is just steep enough to make you adapt your stride.  Then, the course turns onto farm tracks followed by sheep paths through the fields.  I'd decided that the grass was long enough and the ground just soft enough to warrant the shoe change - it's no fun slipping or turning an ankle six days before a big race, so I went for safety first.

By adopting a steady start, I had a nice long line of runners ahead of me.  Over the first two miles of the trails, I let my heart rate gradually creep up towards 95% and enjoyed the pressure of passing without being passed in turn.  After all, it's no fun to overtake loads of runners only to crack and have them all pass you back (I'd had enough of that at Amsterdam!).

For the final two miles, I pushed hard to keep at a high heart rate, especially when I saw two club vests coming back to me.  In the last mile, there's a nice long shallow descent where I opened up my legs and tried to chase down my clubmates.  In the end, I finished a full 20 seconds faster than the previous effort.  Not much change in time, but very pleasing since I've only been doing speed sessions for a few weeks while I try to avoid injury between marathons.

Once finished, I had a chance to catch up with the club's quick runners.  It turns out that we had quite a good result - 1st place (Danny Harris), 2nd lady (Emma Gill), 1st Men's Team, and 1st Women's Team [results not yet confirmed by the organizer].  So, well done to EVRC, and congrats to the organizers for setting up such a great fundraiser!

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