Thursday, 20 June 2013

British Masters 5k Champs 2013

On Sunday I was in Horwich for the British Masters 5k championships. It was a race that up until a few weeks ago I had no intention of entering, I’d said to myself I wasn’t going to enter a proper race until I could run a sub 18 minute parkrun, without any pain in the ankle area. And then I got the call from Salford’s masters section organiser, Dave Lockett, we had two M45s entered and could I consider it as it takes three to tango in this game. Naturally I was wary, at that point I’d run one parkrun, a 19:25 in Edinburgh, in some pain, plus I could hardly move for the following two days. But rather than say an outright no I said I’d let him know after the next parkrun, which was scheduled for Delamere the next day. An 18:39 there wasn’t any great shakes but it was a big improvement on Edinburgh and I was in slightly less pain on the run, more significantly I was able to run the next day. So I got in touch with Dave, I told him I wouldn’t be in any shape to make much of a difference but if I was needed I was available.

A week went by and training was going well, I even managed some reps with Ray, which culminated in another progression at the Delamere parkrun, this time18:12, less pain on the run and, again, I was able to resume training the next day. With a week to go before the BMAF race I decided to try some shock tactics in my training, to try to get the ankle to move more freely, I was still limping away at the start of my runs and had been told by a client that my running looked a bit suspect, when he saw me running towards Tatton Park. So last week I began my shock tactics, this being, to do reps as fast as I could, fewer than I would normally do but doing some each day. I started on Monday with 12 minutes of quality, repeated that on Tuesday but decided to step it up to 18 minutes on Wednesday. Perhaps that Wednesday one was too much as my ankle was stiff on Thursday, so back to easy running and then running with a client on Friday. The ankle hadn’t eased up by Saturday so I took the day off running and did something I would never do the day before a race, under normal circumstances, painted the ceiling. I’m no Michelangelo, but I’m quite proud of my work, it shows my ‘White’ period perfectly.

Come the day of my race I was up early, once again heading to a race with Rob Tudor and Graham MacNeil. We arrived nice and early, which meant I could pick up my number without having to queue for an hour. At this point I was informed, unlike every other year, there were no club prizes. WHAT! Rob and I were both on the recovery trail from serious injuries and wouldn’t have bothered entering this race if it wasn’t because we wanted to help Salford achieve the best result they could, now we’d committed ourselves for nothing. Both of us have good reputations at the event, last year I was 3rd M45, the year before that Rob won the M45 title, the year before that I was 2nd M45 and back in 2006 I was part of the Herne Hill team which won the M40 title, only to have that taken away from us, a week later, on a recount. So it was understandable that we both wanted to be in better shape before we tackled the cream of Britain’s master athletes.

I had been confident I would break just break 18 minutes, but less confident it would help Salford to medals. Now it didn’t matter and I found it hard to motivate myself before the start. It was odd, I’m the sort of person who thrives on championship events and have a record that shows I’m capable of bringing out the best of me for them, even when the chips are down, but now this race felt like any ordinary event. Knowing that I wasn’t capable of pushing myself beyond my level of fitness, due to the achilles problems I couldn’t see anything positive in doing the race. But I was there so at least I’d try, and if I could sneak under 18 minutes at least it was a further improvement.   

Arriving at the start line I found out the walkers were due to set off 3 minutes before the runners. This happened last year and, without any disrespect to either the runners or the walkers, it created a first lap bottleneck. It wasn’t enough time for the walkers to thin out and the runners were all still bunched when they caught up with the walkers, with the difference in speed it was a pile up waiting to happen. Last year I was being elbowed towards a walking crowd and had to check my stride to avoid an accident. I did mention this to a NVAC representative and suggested the walkers set off 3 minutes after the runners but nothing’s changed. This year my start was more subdued and I found myself hemmed in by a crowd of much faster starting ladies, once I’d extricated myself from that I settled down to a pace that I found fairly pain free but also hard enough to feel like I was actually doing some work.

Over the three laps I passed a number of runners, and had a good last lap battle with Dave Jackson of Horwich RMI, but I was most surprised to see Rob Tudor and Graham MacNeil, not that far ahead. This made me think I was either going faster than I had anticipated or Rob and Graham were having bad races. A solid run from me, I think there’s more to give but not sure how much at the moment, saw me finish in 17:21, about a minute slower than the previous year, which placed me in 10th position for M45s. Rob was 7th in 17:00 with Graham getting the better of his younger car mates with 16:54 and 4th place in the M50 age group. I was pretty pleased with the result, it was at least 30 seconds quicker than I’d anticipated and closer to a number of other Salford Harriers than I could have expected. Now it’s time to settle down into my training. I was also able to catch up with my old Belgrave mate, Paul Freary, another great athlete who’s suffered his fair share of injuries lately. It was good to catch up with him and good to see him claim the silver medal, now he’s joined me in the M45s.

We didn’t hang around, it being father’s day, Rob was being taken out for pizza by his daughter and I had some work to get on with. Once again a good race over a great circuit, though I think the road surface could do with a little attention before next year. Hopefully someone will also decide to set the walkers off after the runners for next year.

This week I started my training regime for real, I’m still having to fit it around my growing client list so it can be pretty tiring, but I’m not complaining. Naturally nothing’s ever simple when it comes to running and I’m now having to put up with hay fever, which is very annoying, but I don’t suffer it when I’m running so maybe I should do a few marathon training runs!

Written by Roger Alsop

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