Throwing caution to the winds

After a frustrating few weeks in which my lingering breathing problems torpedoed any serious attempt at interval training, I was ambivalent about turning out the for Fetch west-midlands mile today. It was clear that a serious attempt at 6:00 was out of the question, though maybe 6:13 (my M60 PB) was within reach. Last night I was a bit wheezy but the wheezes settled after a puff of my inhaler and this morning there was no trace of a wheeze, so I decided I would run. The event is a sociable get-together of Fetchies as well as being a chance to race over a mile – a distance that still retains a certain magic aura.

The divisions were based on predicted time, so I lined up with the second division (predicted time range 6:00 – 7:30). My expectation for my own time was in the range 6:10 to 6:20 but in light of my lack of opportunity to develop a good sense of pace in that range, I decided I would run a purely tactical race with the goal of finishing within in the first three, and let time look after itself.

Biking Badger led off at a fair lick and I slipped into third place, feeling fairly comfortable but aware that the pace was faster than I could maintain. My time for the first lap (plus the extra 9 metres) was 89 seconds. Biking Badger kept going at his initial pace but almost everyone else slowed a bit. Coming into the home straight for the second time Ronners went past strongly into second place and I tried to follow him but realised that he too was headed for a time well under 6 minutes, so I would have to settle for a contest for third place. I covered the second lap in 93 seconds. As a result of my initial attempt to keep up with Ronners I had opened up a small gap separating me from rest of the field. As far as I could judge from the spectators’ calls of encouragement to the runners behind me, I was about 20 metres clear of the following pack as we entered the third lap. I was still feeling quite comfortable, and decided that my strategy should be to hold onto a moderate lead over the ‘pack’ for as long as possible without pushing myself too hard, so that I would be fresh enough to hold off any challenge in the final lap. My time for the third lap was a leisurely 99 sec. I continued down the back straight in the final lap maintaining a comfortable pace listening for the challenge from behind. But no challenge came, so I picked up speed in the final 200 metres and finished quite strongly, covering the final lap in 93 seconds, for a total time of 6:17.

In retrospect I think that perhaps I could have made a stronger effort for an M60 PB. If I hadn’t taken it easy in the third lap, I might well have achieved a time around 6:12, but in view of the uncertainties about my breathing, I think I made the right decision to run a tactical race. There is no doubt that I was right to let Biking Badger and Ronners go – their finishing times were 5:48 and 5:49 respectively, and there was no possibility that I could have matched those times. So I am quite happy with my third place, even though the next time I run a mile I will be aiming for a faster time.

The event is a sociable, light-hearted event and in addition to the mile, the program also includes some 100m races, which gives the non-sprinters a chance to remind themselves why they took up distance running. However, when Slickster crossed the line in the first division race in 11.20, I was glad that I opted for the third division. Although it had been a brilliantly sunny winter day, by the time I stripped off for the third division race the air temperature had dropped, and I was aware that my muscles had stiffened after the mile. I did a short warm-up that got the blood circulating a bit more briskly, but as we lined up I was still rather stiff. However as I have never actually run a 100m race before, it was too good an opportunity to miss. No-one in our division was a specialist sprinter so I hoped I could make a reasonable race of it, without pushing myself too hard.

I concentrated on running as relaxed and as fast as possible, and at 60 metres was pleased to find myself in the lead, but I was aware that a runner a few lanes to the left of me was closing the gap. The competitive instinct took over and I threw caution to the winds. In the next few strides I opened up the gap again, but at 75 metres I felt my right hamstring tear. My experience last November when I had completed a 1K repetition during an interval training session after a minor tear of my soleus and had subsequently been scarcely able to train for several weeks, should have reinforced the lesson that one should stop immediately when muscle fibres start to give way. However at this point I was only about 20 metres from the line, leading in what was my first, and perhaps life-time only, 100m race. So I simply focussed on relaxing as much as possible without losing too much pace, and crossed the line in first place in 15.8.

So now I have an M60 PB for the 100m. In fact it probably could be described as a life-time PB, but despite not having kept records of the races in my youth, I am fairly sure that in my heyday I often covered the final 200m of a 5K at around that pace or faster, so I would be reluctant to record it as a life-time PB.

Afterwards we assembled at the home of el-Bee and Velociraptor for a cake-fest. El-Bee had organized the races, and between them they provided a wonderfully hospitable day. It was great to meet other Fetchies. As Fetch is an internet community, it is especially good to have an opportunity to get together socially from time to time. So overall a very satisfying day: a satisfying tactical race for third place in the second division mile; a victory (albeit over other non-sprinters) in my only attempt at 100m and an M60 PB for that distance; and a great cake-fest. I hope the torn hamstring does not prove too much of a problem, but on balance, am prepared to accept that life is more fun if you are not too prudent all the time.

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3 Responses to “Throwing caution to the winds”

  1. Ewen Says:

    Great report Canute. I winced a bit when reading about he hamstring, but even if you’re out for a little while, that was too good an opportunity to let go. I haven’t been game enough to race 100m for many years. Maybe later in the season…

    Good tactical run in the mile for third place. There’s a sure M60 PB there next time with a stronger third lap. Sub-6 at 60 has a certain ring to it!

  2. Andrew(AJH) Says:

    Well done Canute, on the races and the report. Hope the hammy heals quickly!

    Is the Velociraptor you mention the same one that posts on the Ausrun forum?

  3. canute1 Says:

    Ewen and Andrew, thanks for your comments. Today (24 hours after the race) the hamstring does not feel too bad, though it doesn’t react kindly to any loading, so I will not be running in the very near future.
    Andrew, even though I note from his website that the Ausrun Velociraptor is probably in the UK at present, the Fetch Velociraptor is definitely a different person, as she is female. It’s a great pseudonym for a runner

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