So I need to catch up on a few race reports, starting with the John Carr 5K race series. The John Carr series is interesting, with three identical races taking place each Wednesday evening across three weeks. I decided to enter all three – that would give me three chances to ‘get it right’, there was a slight discount for entering the whole series, and you’d get a beer for completing all three.
I hadn’t run a road 5K since… well, ever. From a mixture of Parkruns and Parkrun style races I had a 5K PB of 17:28, and I was keen to get that under seventeen minutes.
Riding high off the back of post-marathon form but with a bit of a rest, I was optimistic for the first race of the series. I felt ready, I had my pacing strategy in place, and I was going to nail the sub seventeen minute 5K. However it turned out I had other plans. I was at a work training course/conference during the day, and took advantage of the free lunch, pastries and coffee throughout the day. As a result my insides were playing havoc with me in the run up to the race, so my confidence was starting to dip.
I went out hard, but on pace, holding myself back a little bit before the push up the first hill (I’d been able to recce the route before the start). The second mile out of three was a bit slower as it included the hill and trying to pick the pace up, but I still seemed on track. In the final mile I was still on pace – the finish line came agonisingly into view, but not quite quickly enough. It was then that I realised that my penchant for pacing by miles rather than kilometres came back to bite me. I’d worked out the pace to finish 3.0 miles in under 17 minutes, not 3.1 miles. I crossed the line finishing in 17:19. A PB, but room for improvement.
Equipped with a new pacing strategy, I was back and ready! No hanging around with slowing the pace down on the first mile, even harder up the hill so I lost less time and could make it up before heading back down for home.
Again, that’s what I thought I would be doing before I decided to run 15 miles the day before – 2 miles of run/walk with the other half, and then 13 made up of the run to and from run club and an all out smashfest on the Adel loop. As a result my legs were smashed, and I wasn’t able to execute the plan, coming home in 17:26 – better than my pre-John Carr PB, but still pretty ropey. One more try.
The final race of the series and one more chance to get it right. Surely I wouldn’t muck it up this time?
Nope. The Sunday before this race was the Calderdale Way Relay. A cracking race but a hard, hard effort, and come Tuesday at run club I decided to lead a hill reps session – purely so I could plod up as slowly as I liked and skip a few efforts. I took it as easy as possible, but I wasn’t optimistic for the legs coming up alright for race day.
As expected, on my little recce trot with my club mate George before the race my legs felt dead. The only thing to do was, as ever, to go hard and see what happened. As it was I got into a good group, and I was there in the mix with George and Kevin Ogden from Spen AC. I forgot for a while about the pace and was just racing, although my legs were heavy and tired. On the way back down the hill George pulled away from me – which was good, as I had something to chase on the way back in, and it was just enough. Not for a sub seventeen, but for a 17:16 PB.
A summary of my thoughts?
- Racing smaller races more frequently means you can get quite blase about preparation. I struggled with this on every single race in the series.
- 5K is a race where you can’t really muck around with the pacing. If you are ahead of the minute per mile pace and you feel that you need to run at a more comfortable pace – don’t.
- Running a race series is great – the disappointment from getting one race wrong quickly disappears, and you have the opportunity to try different approaches for each attempt!