This time last year I posted a race report about the best run ever. You can read the race report here.
This year, Jean and I returned to the Dave Clark 5 for another bash at this lovely low key 5k. Earlier that day I had chatted to Sue about my target for this race. I was fresh off the back of a sub 50 minute Hogsmill 5 mile on the previous Sunday. I figured I would be able to quicken the pace slightly to incorporate the .1 of the 3.1 over 5k. So, a sub 30 minute would be the target but anything starting with 30 would be brilliant.
Peter cancelled our early morning Thursday appointment to avoid a meeting clash. We rescheduled for the following morning but at least, despite the increasing fatigue building in my legs over the last few weeks, I would be fresher than previously thought.
We opted to ride to Nonsuch Park. I met Jean in Craddocks Parade and then set off up Craddocks Avenue, opting for the most direct route rather than our usual cross country. It had been raining on and off all day. The forecast was for more rain later and not 30 seconds after we set off we found ourselves subjected to a deluge that continued for most of the ride. By the time we got to Nonsuch were were soaked through, but at least we were warm.
The Dave Clarke 5k has always been a small event. This year, it attracted just over 60 runners. The lack of numbers painfully evident in the small groups hanging around waiting for the start. The majority of which were Collingwood AC here for their annual 5k challenge. Despite a quick journey to Nonsuch, Jean and I had just enough time to chain up the bikes, go to the loo and collect our numbers before lining up at the start.
With the low numbers I found myself almost on the front of the start line, opting for the inside line around the first bend I was amused to find lots of people around me jostling for position. We were straight into race pace from the off and I selected a pace I thought I would be able to maintain for the full distance. The plan was simply to run hard and not panic.
After the initial settling of positions I found that I was gradually gaining on people ahead. Quite a few of the runners were known to me and I focussed on Derrick from 26.2RRC just ahead.
The race follows two short loops around the mansion house before extending onto the south side of Nonsuch Park on an out and back. It’s pretty flat the whole way round and normally reasonable underfoot although today the footpath was completely submerged in one place, guaranteeing a foot bath later.
I thought about my form and felt it was good. Body upright, arms pumping, legs tired but strong, cadence quick, breathing steady. So far, so good.
As we passed the house for the second time and onto the second lap, the watch beeped to signal the end of the first mile. I glanced down, deciding that whatever the information, it wouldn’t affect the effort level. 9:15 was on the clock.
Oh my. Sub 30 was on. Definitely on.
I willed myself not to panic and lose my head. I’d got off to a great start and still felt comfortable. I passed Derrick and then worked my way up to the next person ahead. This race was all about me against myself. Anyone else in it was incidental to my goal but a useful tool for motivation.
We headed round the back of the house again and onto the third lap. We passed the time keepers and David the race organiser who was shouting encouragement (in a tone that sounded vaguely surprised to see me there). Happily this meant I would not be lapped, a first in this race, and this thought spurred me on.
My legs were starting to really fatigue by this point. I re-focused on form and broke the rest of the race down into chunks. The drive with the speed humps that was gradually uphill. Right at the corner and downhill (recovery) into the out and back portion. A foot wash followed by gradual uphill to the next corner then a right turn and downhill to the turnaround cone. The most difficult part now, back uphill to the corner and left. Downhill back to the footwash then a left turn and about 500m to the finish. Hang on and hope for the best.
I completed each portion bit by bit. Pushing when I could push, then relaxing for a few seconds to regain breath, then pushing on again desperate to get to the end and not blow it. My pace through the middle portion, although not as comfortable as the first mile, still felt fast.
This was mine to lose now but as long as I stayed calm…
On route around the cone I noticed Derrick right behind me. As we climbed again I could hear his breathing right behind me. He said ‘Come on Nicky, stay in front of me’, but I wasn’t interested in a race against him today. When he passed me I resisted the urge to go with him, just trying to run within myself. I was my own target.
Now my breathing really started to labour but I knew I had only 800m to go. This was attrition. This is where the effort really counted. Pain is temporary but victory is forever and all that crap.
At the final left turn I permitted a glance at the time on the watch. It said 25 something. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! I could practically walk it from here and still get under 30. Oh my God. With a lump in my throat I pushed and pushed as hard as I could. Round the gradual right hander, up the short slope (short steps are best to maintain momentum) then pushed on to the finish. David read out my time as I passed 27:41, I promptly burst into tears. I had done it.
Not just done it but smashed it.
I put my hands on my knees and bent over, heaving and battling to regain my breath. Very quickly it came back to normal and I was beaming with a huge glowing smile and an elation that lasted for a few days.
I tuned round to cheer the others on including Jean who finished in 33:13. Awesome.
And then made my way back to Florence who was waiting there in the increasing gloom, to transport me back to Ashtead and home.