We had our second Fast Friday handicap lunchtime race around the Quays yesterday. This time there were 4 of us, it would have been 5 but Pete, (who has run a sub 85 minute half marathon and I regard as dark horse in our competition) had an early morning physio appointment for some sciatic pain and was told not to run later in the day. Since training and completing a marathon last year he’s taken a break from running and only in the last couple of months has he started running again. He has the potential to be quicker than me but his current handicap means I need to give him over 3 minutes start in the race. Anyway no Pete but up against me was the steadily improving Matt who won the contest last month and has clipped a further minute off his PB since then and James who is training hard for a C2C bike ride and hasn’t run much in recent weeks so his form has dipped. The forth runner was Mark who is training for the Fleetwood marathon and is much quicker than me. He’s run the course at a gentle pace with me but since he hadn’t ever ‘raced’ it we decided he would start with the same handicap as me.
I was looking forward to running with Mark, to have him help regulate my pace and push me along, though I was always prepared to let him pull away at some point. Yesterday was scorching hot and we all needed to be careful judging our pace, it didn’t seem like a day for setting PBs and course records. I stayed with Mark for the first mile but as we passed the Watersport’s centre I noted we were running sub 6 minute mile pace which I knew I couldn’t sustain. I let him pull away slightly and Mark realised I was a bit uncomfortable. We crossed the footbridge by the Lowry and as we headed toward Sam Platts I let the lead increase and I dropped back to 7min mile pace. I could see that we were both going to catch James within the next kilometer so, satisfied that I wasn’t going to finish last, I relaxed further to allow my heart rate to fall to something less dangerous. When I caught James he was walking and I coaxed him into jogging for a couple of minutes before he told me to leave him and push on. As I crossed the green ‘Mark Addy’ bridge I could see Matt ahead though I was unsure that I could catch him before the finish. I upped my pace but Matt is a steady runner himself and wouldn’t have been tiring, maybe if I’d given my all I could have caught him but I finished within 10 seconds of him.
In the searing heat Mark had set a course record of 24 minutes, which I’m sure he will easily beat in cooler conditions and he claimed the winner’s trophy. Matt and I were about 90 seconds off our PBs and we were all delighted to present James with the award for coming ‘bottom’.