We had our monthly Sage Fast Friday 6k race around Salford Quays yesterday and despite me taking 30 seconds off my best for the course I still didn’t win the coverted trophy. I suspected I was hustled though.
I am running out of contenders for the race as James has left Sage to join rival software house Iris and both Pete and Matt are to follow him over there in the next few weeks (yes this is as worrying as it sounds!). Yesterday was the last time that both Matt & Pete would be able to join Mark & myself and I had targetted this event as my peak for the week, allowing a little tapering off of my running training from the frequency and intensity of recent weeks.
Despite me buying the Fast Friday Trophy I have not legitimately held it as my own yet and so yesterday was quite important to me. Sadly Matt’s knee prevented him from competing. He’s been running as often as me and has set an Endomondo mileage challenge against his wife and a 3 mile speed challenge against his best friend and maybe that has pushed him into doing too much too quickly. Pete started making whinging noises and all manner of excuses during the morning saying that he wouldn’t run in the rain (I now realise he was winding me up) and Mark was having digestive problems which were probably not helped by the 4 shredded wheat he reported (via Facebook) that he had eaten that morning. My chances of victory seemed higher than usual.
It wasn’t raining at lunchtime but was cloudy and much fresher than in recent months. I felt good having breakfasted on cake (homemade fruit loaf actually) and had been sipping SIS Go for the last hour before setting off. Pete’s PB for the course allowed him a 3 minute 42 second handicap start over me and Mark would wait an extra 55 seconds before beginning to chase me down. Pete has run a sub 3:20 marathon in the last year and has always had the potential to run quicker than his 27:30 PB for the 6k course, but he has had niggles and injuries that have prevented regular running – but only up until the last 3 weeks it seems.
I spent most of the 3 minutes 42 seconds messing around with my smart phone to ensure I had both suitable music running through my headphones (it has to be Delphic) and Endomondo was ready to record. The headphones also allowed me to hear my kilometre splits via Endomondo’s ‘Digital Bint’ (aka the audio coach) and I was going to use her guidance to run an even pace. Although there are a few twists and turns around the course that prevent a perfectly even pace, I intended to run under 3:55 for each kilometre with a hard push for the 5th (to log a fastest 5k for the Sage global challenge) and then hang on for the last kilometre to beat my 24:08 PB. I did almost run to this plan but for the fact that I went off too quickly and clocked the first in 3:29. I cursed myself and slowed to do the second in 3:56 and third in 3:49 which was putting me back on track although I was breathing far too heavily. Sadly I didn’t hear any splits after that and I didn’t push especially hard for the 5th but gave almost everything to run through the line. I didn’t catch Pete though. I took 30 seconds off my course record but he must have taken over a minute off his – I felt like I’d been hustled or at least he had been slow playing his abilities for the last few months.
I didn’t have the consolation of keeping Mark behind me either as he was at the finishing line to greet me. How did that happen? It turns out that he felt uncomfortable and stopped off at Sam Platt’s rather than have a Paula Radcliffe moment then walked back from the pub. So despite my PB I finished last! I forced the loser’s medal onto Mark with his DNF and grudgingly passed the trophy to Pete. Next month there will only be me and Mark and I wonder if I became quicker than him he might disappear off to Iris too? Though I suspect that is never going happen. I clocked 19:12 for 5 kilometres which is a lifetime best that I am delighted with at the grand old age of 39, but sometimes, it seems, your best just isn’t good enough.