RACES: Craanford 5k

After Aoife’s successful assault on the 40-minute 10k barrier, she had pencilled in the Craanford 5k race, a small road race in Wexford, to crack her 5k PB of 19:10 which had stood since 2008. She had a cracking season that year, one of the last before her long injury lay-off with a suspected nerve injury.

We had prepared her well for slightly higher speed of the 5k distance with another interval session Tuesday, windsprints (1 mile of 100m sprint, 100m easy) Thursday and then some Cut-Downs (three sets of 3 x 100m with each one a second faster) Friday. This comes off the back of a consistent spell of training with more than 50 miles per week and up to 60 miles for the last several months.

Sliabh Bhuidhe Rovers had us outnumbered at the start!

“Tag-along” Cassidy

As we were going to a party straight after the race, I reasoned that I should just as well tag along. Once I made that decision I decided to use the race as my “Out and Back” session although I knew I would have to run a bit harder than is ideal at this time. I justified my choice by needing to set down a “fitness marker” at the beginning to see where I stand and how big the gap is between “where I am” and “where I want to be”. Tomorrow I’ll post a separate article to discuss my training over the last 15 months and why it has been quite different but now on to the race:

The oppressive heat (23 degrees at 5pm?) didn’t agree with my low level of current physical endurance so didn’t have that “extra spring in my stride” but kept a reasonable pace despite being boxed in early on. At the mile point, Aoife and I were running side by side. She then put in a huge effort to which I did not even try to respond. My mind was focused on my usual plan: settle and claw everything back on the descent. When you have no race training, ideal pacing strategy becomes hard to achieve as you are constantly guessing what you are capable of doing without blowing up. Specific workouts breed this certainty.

Crossing the line with a strange pose. What am II seeing in the sky? relief? Aoife already waiting!

Downhill

The turn came and then a steep downhill which really tested our technical ability, I clawed back two spots here literally sprinting down the hill – the heel of my foot never touched but I could have let myself go more, as a bit of friction burn underneath the ball of my left foot attested. It was a fast enough kilometre but far away from the 3-minute kilometres I would expect to be able to put in on such a generous slope.

I worked to keep ahead of the SBR man I had just passed on the final section of drag and as we turned into the finishing straight I could see the race organiser and Aoife. I reckoned then and there that I could close the gap which was about 150m. Just as I began my acceleration I noticed that Aoife was putting in a final big effort and she immediately fell out of reach. Then I had breathing behind me. The SBR man was preparing his own assault on me. I drifted past the race organiser and then decided to time a long sprint so I could respond to the late attack. I notched up my pace very gently until I could hear the runner coming very close. I listened carefully to his breathing and kept notching up the pace until I could hear that he was wheezing. Just at that moment I upped my cadence by several gears and stayed in front. It was a nice tactical moment and a rare victory in a sprint finish, even if I should take it with a pinch of salt – when running at my best speeds, my competitors would put even more pressure on at the end.

Aoife looks back on beaten hubby, after the narrow escape in Killarney there was no comeback this time!

Conclusions

The time of 18:56 was nothing to write home about, in fact I’ve only run slower on two occasions (Ashford 2009 and La Santa 2010). BUT in tomorrow’s article I’ll go into why this race was a sign of marked progress when it so obviously seems not to be – I’ve had specific objectives and things to balance for the last 15 months and I’ll try to explain it in full details. The pieces of the jig-saw have almost fallen in place now although the full effect of this will not become obvious until the new year.

Race splits: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/379331939

Overall verdict: a great day for Aoife and a useful day for me: I now know where my physical abilities stand before beginning the final technical adjustments and then ramping my mileage back up.

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