My second outing of the season was as successful as my first in Killarney. I always enjoy the Wicklow Fit4Life series and today’s treat was 5k race in Wicklow Town.
As always for these races, the course was relatively hard and the field small and competitive. These races really retain the “old school” field yet leave nothing to be desired in efficiency. There’s something nostalgic about having no closed streets, no water-stops, and no goodie bags, somehow it makes the running purer.
While some may lament that the courses are not really suitable for setting records, I think this makes them better races during the final stages of pre-season where you want to get as close a race simulation as possible without expending everything in search of a PB.
I had chosen the race as my time trial for my first week of “Coordination” training, the first of four weeks, before two taper weeks deliver me into the competitive season. These races are to see where I am at and where I need the most fine-tuning.
The field took off fast, and I settled into the back of the second group, slightly conservatively. My plan was to run 3:30, then three 3:40s, and then another 3:30 or so. According to program, if I could run 18:05 without going all out, I’d be on track. Anything faster and I’d be ahead of schedule. I reckoned, I could break eighteen with an effort similar to the Good Friday 5 mile.
We ran from the Murroughs at the waterfront out back towards Wicklow Town, I quickly made my way up the field, a trend which continued throughout the race, giving that nice “feel-good” factor. I’d trained through the week with hard windsprints Monday and a 62-minute fartlek the day before, but the legs were strong and didn’t buckle despite the small climbs and headwind fighting against us until the turn.
First kilometre came home in 3:33, so far so good, I stabilised on 3:41, 3:40, 3:38 and then put in a very good 3:23. As I closed in on the finish, my watch showed “4.97”, so fearing the course would be a bit short, I sprinted through the finish and did an extra 50m, just to be sure. 17:55 for a slow course and a prize for being third man in the Open category. It’s my second best 5k time and remembering how I struggled and suffered to finish in 19:15 two years ago at the same stage of the season, the omens read well.
In the Lydiard system, the way to evaluate performance is simple: Did you die off near the end or did you have trouble finding extra gears? For me it was more of the latter. I felt like I could have thrown in a few more kilometres at this pace, exactly as in Killarney three weeks ago, whereas I could only raise my pace so many notches. So basically my aerobic work has paid of and there are great strength reserves there to be used. What I need now is to shake off the four weeks of anaerobic training and polish off my speed for the next five weeks.
An enjoyable race, good competition, feeling fresh and full of energy, seems I’m getting pre-season right this time… (hopefully I didn’t jinx it there, but ah, I am not a superstitious man).