First 1st

Last weekend was a first for me, I managed to win the Innovation Sports Vivobarefoot Clapham Common 15k. I signed up just a few days prior to the event after Alan (a good friend and pacer at Niketown) let me know he had signed up. Some of you will realise a trend forming, a friend mentions a race and I end up racing. Having not done a 15k before I didn’t know what time I could do but to know I would PB by default is always good. 

Having signed up to the race I did some course and results research, that’s the logical way to sign up to races right? I discovered the route would be zig zaggy for want of better words. This reflected in the winning times from previous races, roughly 56 minutes (just over 6 min/miling) was the winning time for the previous race in the series. I thought this would be achievable as my half marathon PB equates to running quicker than 6 minute miles but obviously it depends who else turns up on the day. Obviously because I thought this would be achievable I headed out on Saturday at the hottest part of the day for a quick 10 miler to loosen up, not sure what possesses me at times.  

So with an alternative taper completed I headed to Clapham Common bright and early on Sunday morning with the idea in my head of winning the race. My legs felt a little heavy but I was still confident and was in race mode, I even wore split shorts and a vest for a change. Plus I warmed up, something that Alan commented on and said “you’re up for this aren’t you?” I was. It was nice to be in a race that I could compete to win after doing races for fun and pacing the last few weekends. My race strategy was lazy and straight forward, I would sit on the shoulder of my closest rival (not literally) and outsprint him when I felt I needed to. 

The race began at 10:04 just after the 5k and 10k had set off. The first lap consisted of a lot of weaving and learning the route which we would repeat another two times. Unfortunately there were people setting up fences and this caused a bit of havoc less than a mile in but that and the confusion of a lot of tape aside it was a smooth race. In the first two kilometres myself, a serpentine runner Christopher and Rory (Team Dillon) took to the front. We started off relatively quickly clocking a sub 6 minute mile before settling into a pace just over 6min/miling. After a few kilometres myself and Christopher pulled away from Rory making it a two horse race. 

I stuck to his heels pretty much all the way round, even when we both started going in the wrong direction down a wide path despite the big yellow arrow. Once back on route we kept pushing and every now and then Christopher would surge to try and open up a slight gap. I have raced a few times near the front and always prefer to follow someone. For example I have finished 1st at Southwark parkrun the 4 times I’ve done it but each time I’ve followed someone for the fist lap or two and then just held the pace. There will come a time hopefully when I’ll lead from the off and deal with that thought of being chased but I think being the chaser is much more motivational. As we moved into the 3rd and final lap we injected some pace into the race knowing we just had 5k to cover. I kept close particularly around the bends. 

I stuck to the task even though at times I felt pretty knackered. I got alongside with about 1k to go and then kicked from 800m. I thought this could’ve been a little early but luckily as I strided out I felt good and the gap opened up meaning I could claim the win in 55:09. I was happy and relieved to complete the job and claim the trophy. The most rewarding thing was probably the time due to the terrain and weaving. The only reason I did that time was because of the competition Christopher gave me.  

 Rory, Christopher and me

Rory finished in 3rd place and afterwards he got someone to take a photo of us. We had a quick chat about future races and he has moved into the world of ultras so to post that time was impressive. Alan finished in a strong time in 11th place and was fresh as a daisy as we ran 4 miles to Westminster Bridge before heading our separate ways, I was feeling the effects but it was worth it. 

Later on in the day I spoke to my mum and having seen a photo on social media of me finishing first the first thing she said was “Was no-one else running!?” That wasn’t entirely the case but I know that there are a lot of runners that could’ve turned up and rained on my parade. This is something that I have thought about more recently when running at track. Because track is like a little running bubble you can sometimes end up thinking about what pace other runners are doing. It doesn’t happen often but there are two things you can do with these thoughts. 1) give up because someone’s always going to be faster than you. Or 2) Run as fast as you can to keep the gap consistent or smaller and get as strong and as fast as you can. After all there’s that saying that goes roughly like this “to compare yourself with others (in running or not) is a direct line to unhappiness” so stick at it and become the best you can be I reckon.

The last weeks been fun running at track and pacing The Running Works Run Club. I hope everyone’s had a good week and good luck to those of you running and racing this weekend.

Steve 

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