Yesterday saw the first Chiltern League cross country fixture of 2010 held at Shuttleworth in Bedfordshire. And doning my new Leighton Buzzard AC team shirt for the first time I had to give it my all and not let the team down. It was a fresh afternoon but not so cold as to require anything more than the standard vest and shorts which its seems is a strict requirement of any XC fixture. My warm up consisted of a nice cup of coffee and a 10 minutes reccie around the course. The race was 3 laps around a 1.7 mile circuit that was muddy underfoot but very runnable. It also included a long climb in the first half which certainly pushed up the heart rate!
Wearing my garmin and heart rate monitor would give me instant feedback on my pace and how hard I was pushing to ensure I didn't blow out at the beginning of the race. It also meant that I could analyse my effort post race.
There were 15 LBAC mens runners so a good turn out with some encouraging words spoken at the beginning to fire me up. In short go out fast, get in position and hold on for the rest of the race! It really is that simple. There are no hiers or graces with this kind of racing. Everyone is honest and genuine and runs with a grit and determination to do their best and run themselves into the ground.
We were on the start line and I was feeling good (the coffee did the trick) and with a shout of GO we were off. I found a comfortable yet hard pace and settled into my stride early. On the first lap you are very much aware of all the runners around you... just infront and right behind. No room for letting up on the pace of you will be overtaken. I was actually looking forward to the long climb as I felt this could be my strength with all the endurance running I had been doing. And so it was that I used this opportunity to steadily pick off 1, 2, 3 runners infront of me. After the long climb it plateaued and then dropped off with a nice steady downhill section to recover. Lengthening the stride on the downhill and letting go also allows one to pick up a good pace, and the opportunity to past a few cautious runners.
After lap 1 I knew that I was pushing hard but not so hard that I didn't think I could keep up the pace. If anything I got more comfortable as the race progressed picking off more runners on the uphill section, and basically hauling ass throughout! Lap 2 came and went. In Lap 3 I knew that my breathing was heavier and I was needing ever more oxygen to pump the blood to my rapidly beating heart. The stats really do tell the story of this one. My average heart rate for the race was 187 BPB. My avg mile heart rate splits for each mile were 179, 185, 188, 192, and 194BPM, and a max of 198. So there is no doubt that I was certainly pushing myself all the way.
I crossed the finished line in 31:47, which I was well happy with. I think I would have to say my best ever 5 mile run (in training or racing), not that I do many over this distance ;-)
And now that I'm running London again this year I think this type of racing can only aid with increasing my fitness and speed. Both of which I will need to run better than last year and get a time that I think I'm capable of.