So 3 weeks after my 16:18 PB in Ballincollig I’m ready to rock again and hoping to be knocking on the door of a sub 16, or even better, running though the door. The race is the Garda BHAA 5k down at the flatlands of the marina, one of the fastest 5k’s around Cork without doubt. I ran this last year in an extremely satisfying 16:27 and that was probably one of my best races of the year. I felt pretty confident going into this one, feeling nice and rested and going well in the training sessions. Got down with plenty of time to spare, quick registration and then a 20 min warmup with a clubmate though in hindsight I ran this a bit too quick. Bit of a delay at the start but around 8:10pm we got called to the line.
Mile 1 – 5:10
I was standing there on the line looking really cool and ready to rock, then I looked down in horror to see my left shoe lace was only tied once and quite shoddily, a disaster waiting to happen. I had no option but to take the risk and so I bent down to tie it, seconds to go before the gun. 3 sturdy loops later my head was back at it’s usual height and we were ready to go, phew! Off we went and I settled right in with a group, one of which was my nemesis in green (MH) from the last 5k who edged me just before the line. 1st and 2nd placed runners were already creating a sizeable gap and then there was a group of 3, myself, MH and TK. TK is a very tall local track runner who has now turned to the roads and also happens to hold the M45 national 800m record, fantastic athlete. I knew I was in with a strong group so the plan was to stick with them and let the time sort itself out. There was a reasonable headwind for the first 800m but nothing drastic, we turned and then had a nice stretch with the wind behind us and I was feeling ok for the first mile clocking 5:10. I glanced down and knew I was on track for the sub 16, let’s keep truckin’.
Mile 2 – 5:19
I guess it’s obvious that I lost seconds here. I was just focussing on sticking with the group but was really starting to feel the effort levels rising. We passed the starting line again and into the headwind for the second loop. I was at the back of the group with MH leading I was getting some good protection from the wind behind TK though it wasn’t intentional to be sitting, I was really struggling to keep up. We hit the 2 mile mark just before the turn and I saw the 5:19 flash up. I kind of knew there and then the sub 16 wasn’t on today as it would require a sub 5 minute mile to pull it back – not happening. I’m thinking I would have been much better not knowing the splits as the head was too focussed on time today.
Mile 3: 5:14
We turned yet again onto the final stretch and I’m working extremely hard, bellowing. I’m also wondering once again what the hell I am doing out here putting my body through such hardship – completely irrational in hindsight, I love it. I look at TK and though he was probably feeling it, he looked like he was moving effortlessly. Another runner joined the group from nowhere and I was in awe of how easily he powered his way past the group to the front, in the last mile! TK and himself stuck close, I drop just behind them by a few meters and MH is struggling to keep with the group. The last mile was just a case of pure perseverance, I want to curl up in a ball on the grass and rock gently. I knew my coach was waiting just before the line so that motivated me to keep working hard and to be fair I did keep the last mile quite consistent though it really felt as if I was slowing. TK as expected with his track pedigree, motored away from the new guy who was now a couple of seconds a head of me and had enough of a gap to hold his position. Finally the finishing straight came into view, I glanced at the finishing gantry clock and I see 15:3x with still 0.1 of a mile to go. I know the sub 16 is definitely not on so I just give it all I’ve got in the hope of a PB. I crossed in a heap clocking 16:13 in 5th place and a 5 second PB. Initially disappointed but in hindsight it’s progression and a PB is a PB regardless of by how much.
As mentioned earlier, a sub 16 5k is not easy and maybe it was a bit unreasonable to expect to go from 16:18 to sub 16 in 3 weeks. I think it’s going to be a case of scraping the seconds off gradually and targeting sessions to recreate those conditions. Today I focussed too much on the time unlike the previous 5k where I purely raced it. The time will come, that I’m sure of but maybe a little less obsession with the clock and more focus on the race is needed. If I compare my last 2 races, though both extremely hard, it was the Ballincollig one still felt tougher in terms of effort and that was the one where I had no preconceived time going into the race. As arbitrary as it is, 16 minutes is just another barrier we runners create but it’s one I desperately want to achieve and in a sense it’s a great motivator because I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
Overall, I can’t complain and I’m happy with the progression recently. it’s probably an accurate reflection of where I’m at currently and all things considered I’m in a pretty good place and thankful to be healthy and running well. Now back to work on the track!