Racing the Old Blokes
I arrived a little late so warmed up with a short jog and 3 strides. Our race director had set up a rather narrow start chute so my usual grid position produced a momentary delay of 5 seconds or so before I was up and running. I was wearing the Hoka Cliftons — the super cushioned and stunningly light (265 grams, size 13) training shoe. The harder Kinvaras may have been faster, but my legs are liking cushioned shoes! After 500 metres I found myself running behind a lady with a dog on a lead — she on one side of the path and the dog on the other. Should I resurrect my steeplechase skills and hurdle the lead? Ah, maybe not! It wasn't long before I was able to get past and settle into a steady (hard) tempo.
Passing the Maccas morning breakfast crowd I looked up ahead and saw my rival Jim taking the sharp left turn that leads under the bridge. Wow, that's quite a lead! As we turned onto the concrete footbridge I could see that Jim had formed a group with two other old blokes, Paul and Graeme, with younger bloke John along for the ride. Their advantage was about 75 metres but I could sense it was slowly reducing. I didn't feel like I was speeding up (which was proved by my post-race splits). Maybe they've started too fast? At the half-way turn I was closer and felt like a catch was inevitable. I hope it happens before the last 100 metres! As we ran off the bridge onto the west side of the lake the small downhill gave me the momentum to overtake John and Graeme then Paul and Jim in quick succession. 1k to go! I ran as hard as I could, fearful of Graeme's final sprint (which he used to defeat me in an earlier Parkrun).
Now I was using young blokes and kids as unofficial pacers, racing along beside the lake and readying myself for the final speed-bump of a hill into the park. Up and over, then a modest (it felt devastating!) sprint to the finish. Stopped the Garmin after the line, pretty pleased to see 22:52 (official time was 22:54, so agonisingly short of a new Parkrun PB). Never mind, I'd had a good race! I think the additional cycling training I've been doing is starting to produce results. I still don't feel 'fast', but I feel strong which is a good place to be. My average heart-rate for the race had been 146, so a pleasingly low 669 heart-beats per kilometre. One kilometre splits were 4:38, 4:34, 4:34, 4:35 and 4:33 (the first closer to 4:32 taking into account the delay at the start). This coming Sunday I'm racing the Melbourne 10k, looking forward to it as a catch-up-with-friends holiday rather than a race. I hope the weather is typically Melbourne-perfect!