Thursday 5 January 2012

First Race of 2012 - Fladbury Festive 5 (and a bit)

2012 started out with a nice easy 5k to ease away the effects of New Year's Eve.  For once, I was first out of bed, and when I finished sorting out the detritus, the house was still quiet.  So, I headed out for a short run to loosen up and be ready for the Fladbury Festive Five on the 2nd.  It had been a while since I last ran without a pack full of the bits I'll need for longer races, and the feeling of freedom was overwhelming.  But, there's only so much time and energy after a night of revelry, so I had to shelve that feeling and hope it would come back the next day.  The race is only 5.6 miles, so I hoped to have enough in the tank to have a good run.

For the first day in far too long, Monday dawned bright.  The race wouldn't start until 10:30, but we were entering on the day so I made sure we arrived nice and early.  Fine for me, but I'm not sure my in-laws, who were visiting for the long weekend and were commandeered into the cheering section, appreciated the fine facilities and many runners milling about. Nic and I enjoyed the chance to catch up with various friends who were also competing.

Not long out of the blocks, I realised that I was just behind fellow EVRC runners Bob and Stuart (who had planned to hold to my shoulder for as long as he could).  At Mortimer last month, I marked Bob for the first 4 miles before I picked him up.  At Bredon in July, I marked him for the entire race (and never caught him!).   So, I decided to try to stick to Bob for the first half and then see how things went from there.

The first mile sped by as we raced on mostly road and gently down towards the Avon.  As the second mile passed, we encountered the first real bottleneck of the race.  The line of runners in front of me bunched as they climbed a stile (a slippery and tricky one).  Nice, easy stiles have enough space for a full shoe facing the fence, rather then a little bit of wood that runs parallel to the fence, like this one.  The result is that most runners were taking a few extra seconds to avoid slipping and straddling the fence in a most uncomfortable way.  I decided not to bother with taking care on the far side and launched myself off the low fence.  Luckily, my landing wasn't too messy and I kept the momentum as I began running again.  The extra momentum gave me a few yards, if only because I didn't slip on the downward wooden step.

Somewhere exists a picture from Bredon of me boring holes into the back of his head as I try (and fail) to catch him on the long descent.  So, when I saw someone taking pictures, I thought I'd lighten my spirits a little by showing how hard I was trying to close the small gap between us.

Trying to claw my way back up to Bob, with Stuart just holding on.  (picture courtesy of  race organizers "Friends of Fladbury" and race sponsors Birdseye Sports, Evesham)

Bob kindly encouraged me as I finally passed him - telling me there was a hill just ahead.  I'd been wondering if I would have any sort of hill to help me pick up some time on those in front.  As it happened, the hill was fairly small, but it took its toll on a couple of the guys up ahead.  Over the next mile I picked up runners one by one, trying to hold a steady pace at 7:00.  A couple of these runners have recently finished well ahead of me, so I knew I was having a good race.  By the time we crossed the rail bridge at five miles, I was running on the edge of what I could maintain over any reasonable distance.

Good club support from Tara, Linzi, and their families with 400m to go spurred me on.  My eyes were already watering from the effort (so, I don't actually know who else was cheering), but I started to kick harder, passing two more runners with apparent ease.  But, with only 200m to go, I realised I'd kicked a bit too early when the dry heaves came to get me.  I had to slow down just to keep running upright.  One of the guys I'd passed overtook me, and I didn't have anything left to regain my place.  I started to recover after about 10 seconds and was able to give one last push to keep anyone else from catching me.  I'm sure my in-laws were cheering me on, but goodness knows I couldn't hear anything above the sound of my own discomfort.  Fortunately, breakfast stayed where it was!

Overall, I ran quite a bit faster than I had expected to, finishing 21st.  In part, the underfoot conditions were better than expected.  The fantastic turnout from EVRC (25% of the field) meant that I had a pretty good idea of how I was running based on who was around at various points in the race - and stoked up some competitive spirit!  The good club support also meant that we helped the local village raise funds for its community projects.  Nearly as important, though, it gave us a chance to celebrate over the fine cakes and tea provided as part of the entry fee.  So, thank you very much to the Friends of Fladbury for providing such an excellent start to 2012!

No comments:

Post a Comment