The Christmas 5ks 

On Saturday the 10th of December I took part in the Christmas 5ks at Battersea Athletics Track. The event was organised by the Clapham Chasers. Since the Fast Friday 10k track race I took part in early this year I have been on the look out for more track events. I’d mentioned this to Sam Cornforth (runs at track on a Tuesday night and works at Runners Need) and a week or so ago he let me know about The Christmas 5ks. I didn’t sign up straight away just in case other races/events popped up (I get pretty bad FOMO!) but as the day neared the calendar was still free so I registered. 

It had been a little while since I’d raced the 5k distance (apart from the odd parkrun) so I was looking forward to pushing the pace and seeing what time I could manage. Having only just got over the lurgy/a cold I wasn’t too sure how I would feel trying to run quickly so I calculated what paces I’d need to run for various times. The times I had in mind were:

a) 16:30 – 3:18 min/km

b) 17:00 – 3:24 min/km

c) 17:30 – 3:30

As I had been taking part in Advent Running my legs felt quite tight in the week before the race. I think this is mainly because I took part in a shorter track session (including drills) on Monday. Taking this in to consideration I thought I would probably be capable of between 17-17:30 but if they did loosen up and feel good I would try to get as close as possible to my 16:31 PB. 

I ran 4K to the track to warm up and got there in plenty of time to pick up my race number and watch some of the other races. 

I chatted with a couple of other runners and bumped into Joe Spraggins (Clapham Chaser, we met at the Olympic Park Mo Santa thingy last year). We had a good catch up, discussed our goal times for the race and jogged a couple of laps. 

I headed to the start area and did a couple of strides just before the 11 o’clock start. The event was really well organised, there was a special area coned off for us to warm up in. We were all called to the start line where we discussed what our goal times were and what paces we’d have to run. The pacer in our race was for 17 minutes. Initially I was thinking to aim for 17:30 and then up it if I felt good but due to there being a pacer I decided on the start line to follow him and see if could hold on. 

After waiting for the last two runners to join us we were sent on our way. Straight from the off there was a group of four or five of us tucked in behind the pacer. I positioned myself at the back of the pack initially as I didn’t want to have to take a wide line and clock more distance than required. It took a couple of laps for me to find my stride but the legs soon loosened up and I was feeling comfortable running around 3:25min/km pace. I was focussing on keeping close behind the pacer, as the group thinned out a little I passed one or two runners to make this easier. 

At the halfway point the group had shrunk. One of the runners dropped out and two or three others had eased up. There was three of us still on the tail of the pacer, sub 17 minutes was still in our sights. The laps went by really quickly, I guess only having the Fast Friday 10k to compare to it would feel quick. The legs were starting to tighten but there was only a few more laps to go. With 2k left I picked up the pace a little to get alongside and eventually pass the other two sub 17 hopefuls. Before I knew it we were into the last kilometre, I surged again. Due to some decent pacing I had some energy for a sprint finish to cross the line ahead of the other two runners in 16:49. Mission accomplished. 

Here are the stats/splits:

I really enjoyed the race, it was just what I needed to assure myself I still have some speed in the legs despite small mileage over the last few months. Racing with quicker runners is always great too, I feel as though I have picked up some much needed motivation. I will definitely try to race over 5k and 10k more in the new year. 

Joe crossed the line sub 17:30 which was bang on his plan. Well done mate, cracking run! He is going to be training for two Ironman triathlons next year, good luck with that. After my effort I watched the final race with Calum, Scott & Ben (Run Fast cheer crew). This race included a fellow Run Fast member, Davide. 

He ran well and finish in 16:30ish in what is only his third proper race back from injury. Well done mate! 

I hope those of you that have/are racing or training this weekend run well and enjoy it. 

See a lot of you soon

Steve 

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