My next goal is to run a new 10k personal best in March. I have planed to go to Eastleigh for this attempt where I have set my official PB in 2011.
To achieve this goal I have to work hard and be determined, as I am not getting younger and speed certainly does not come with age! This shall be the basis for the upcoming mountain running season where speed in the flat is not exactly essential. But it gives you confidence and makes your legs move quicker which is good for fast downhill sections.
That's why I've decided to do the Ashford 10k, to get a first attempt on this distance under the belt. From the trainings on the track I knew that I have great deficits on the base speed. I know that I am missing the force of the cycling training which I have not been doing for months now (basically due to the beautiful English weather, long days of sunshine and smooth road surfaces) but have to pick it up again better sooner than later.
From the Park runs I knew that I should be able to run between 32 and 33 minutes. The course had to be changed on the day because parts of the roads were flooded but fortunately the organizers were able to accommodate with the circumstances and had a backup plan which was a 5k stretch with a turnaround point. The course is undulating which makes it interesting for tactics but not exactly fast.
Everybody gathered at the starting line and all I wanted is to run a solid and smart race. The horn sounded and some local runners went for it and were sprinting with a 3min/km average into the first hill (the usual procedure :)). After the first kilometer I was in 3rd position and was in reach of the two leading guys which did not seem to slow down and I had to make the move to be under control of the situation. As I was passing the local Ashford runner he was breathing very heavy and I knew he is going to drop right away so I went to the front and made sure this would happen. The other runner, Daniel Bradley of Tonbridge AC, did not have any problem to follow me and I gave the lead back to him. Daniel is the guy who won the park run in Maidstone in between my two wins in the exact average time of my finishing times which means we had about equal strength.
Now this is the time I love most when I have a game plan and can play my tactics. After he pushed for another couple of kilometers I made another move and got a gap of a few meters but he would not drop. So I had to be patient and just carry on at a speed where I would not overdo myself, keep him occupied and was still able to attack again when the time comes. Just at the second aid station after 6km Daniel rushed past me and our positions were reversed. I was now following a few meters behind him when we reached the hill where he was looking for the deciding gap. I stayed calm and started the counterattack in the following slight downhill with 2.5km to go. I was expecting to get away from him quite easily as he looked quite exhausted when I passed him. But he was hanging in there tough and stayed just about 5 seconds behind me. Now I was missing the force in my legs so I had to concentrate to be as efficient as possible and not to show any weakness. The closer we got to the finish the more I was hoping he was not able to out sprint me but then again if he had the strength he would have closed the gap before.
I crossed the finish line in 32:24 just 3 seconds in front of Daniel and thanks to him I was keeping the pace high all the way. According to my GPS the course had about 100 meters elevation which puts the time in a better perspective. I think it is fair to say I have achieved what I wanted from this race. The legs feel still good and are ready for the next training block!
Now I need to get my bike sorted and get those miles in!
Here are the results