The race in question was the Newlands Valley Round promoted by Keswick AC. From Keswick it goes over the bridge to Portinscale, up the hills to the Swinside Inn, down to Stair, up t'other side of Stair to the Newlands Pass road where turn right to come back almost to Braithwaite but then head right again to follow back to Portinscale and Keswick - 6.8 miles.
Last Monday I was alone for the 8.75 miler and instead of running steady away, I tried as hard as usual and recorded 6:18 pace. Slowest for some time, but alone, without the youngsters to try to stay ahead of, that is good enough. Tuesday I felt very lethargic and cut short the intended 7+ jog-with-dog to just 4 miles.
So to tonight. I didnt feel much like racing as I had a rather tiring day at work. One site all day long is actually much harder work than my usual day of driving between 4 or more sites and then sitting in office doing paperwork/plans/emails/ quotes etc.
After walking Scamp for a while by the river below the old rail line near Threlkeld I felt a bit more energetic again and drove the couple of miles to Keswick to get signed on. I dont really have a proper warm up routine - I ran up the hill to the school twice, hard, and then did some stretches and two little sprints on the flat road by the finish.
The gun went and four lads immediately formed a lead group. James Douglas (Border), John Mason (Border) Steve Littler (Wesham) and another very young lad, unknown to me. I was in fifth and made no attempt to go with them. By the bridge into Portinscale I had been joined by 3 others so it was two groups of 4 heading the race.
I am sure I didnt set off too fast but within another half mile I was dropped by my group so was now alone in 8th on the road. Another half mile after that, approaching stair, I had caught back to one of my former group and I think I dropped him climbing out of Stair. The really young lad from group one also came back to me here so I was in 6th now. Trouble was Michael Cunningham (Borrowdale) had caught me very slowly and we two then raced all the way to the end vying for 6th and 7th. We exchanged a brief word or two at one stage and I suggested if we kept the pressure on we might get the lad in fifth who was not pulling away and was looking behind him a lot. Michael is a lad I have recognised from racing against for 10 years or more but I have never really had much of a craic with him.
On the slight downhill in Portinscale to the suspension bridge I took a 30 second breather then pushed hard again to maintain a gap which had opened up between us. I felt it was possibly 10 or 20 metres at that stage. My plan must have worked I think, as the gap at the finish line was more like 30 or 40 metres.
Stats then. I was 6th from just less than 100 finishers. 1st Vet 40. 3rd counter in winning team.
I was pleased to have been able to race hard for nearly 7 miles and not tie up or struggle at the end.
My time of 40.11 is 5:55 per mile which for approx 11k on a fairly lumpy course is OKish but nothing startling. Back in the day (sorry Stu) I would have looked to be just inside 5:40 pace over a hilly course like this, so 15 seconds/mile slower is quite significant. A 10 seconds/mile loss in the intervening years would be easier to accept.
Next week there is another race (Round Latrigg) and the week after that the Dumfries 10k. Only the Dumfries event will see me curtail my tough training regime beforehand so hopefully another week of speedwork, racing and tempo runs will see me perform well there.
Extra Extra. Friday night, I've just done a session of 800metres intervals. Every intention of doing 8 of them but I feared that after 6 I might be struggling and need to quit. Little wind meant only the slight elevation difference would make one direction faster than the other.
Set off a bit harder than usual for no1 (after last weeks poor 2:56) and got 2:45. Good
no2 (mild downhill) gave a 2:39
no3 exactly as no1 with 2:45
then a one second bettering downhill to record 2:38.
Halfway through the session now, and I reckoned I would soon begin to suffer in a big way or my legs would give up the ghost. As I got into the thick of the third uphill (5th effort) I promised myself that if I failed to do another 2:45 I would quit at 6 as it would be a sure sign of lethargy, and cutting short would be sensible.
I was astonished then to record 2:43!!
The next one (downhill) was the toughest of the night, by 300 metres into it my CV system felt like it was working on override. I thought this was because I was so completely knackered but my watch revealed it was because I was running so damn fast. It showed 2:34 as I finished
The final two reps were a bit more sedentary and matched my earlier efforts of 2:43 (up) and 2:39 (down)
What a session. a mile longer than I expected to manage and much much faster than last week (although to be fair last week was the first time doing this short distance in several months).
About 5:22 average pace.