"You're not going to let me do this last one myself, are you, lads ?" The lads, 2 fit young men in their 20s responded by coming back onto the track aand jogged with me towards the 300 metre mark. I asked them what they had been doing and they informed that they had completed 2 x 1.5 miles in preparation for a bleep test they had to pass for recruitment into the fire service.
"What have you been doing?", one of them asked. "16 300s, this one being the last."
The rest of the reps had gone very much to plan for once. Having survived the attentions of a rampant Alsatian dog and a hissing swan in the park during the warm up I set about the task of hitting the target time of 72 seconds for each 300. If I could manage this for 12 I would add another 4.
71.9 71.4 71.9 71.7 72.3 71.6 71.2 71.9........excellent consistency and well up to the mark but they are starting to hurt and I start to think that 12 might well be enough but it would be useful to do 16 to compare progress against the last set of 16 I'd done.
71.8 72.1 70.7 71.3 . 12 done so I decide to complete the set of 16.
70.8 71.0 71.1.............just one to do.
The young men had finished their efforts and had been watching me whilst they recovered but were up for one last 300. One of them had looked strong on his efforts. 6'1" and 15 stone; rather dwarfing me at 9 stone 6 and 5'11". I'd have been quite happy for him to just share the effort and maintain the times.
But inevitably it turned into a bit of a race. Perhaps I was keen to do a David over Goliath act. The young man tracked me through as we rounded the bend and hit the straight. Continuing the "fight" we crossed the line shoulder to shoulder .........62.7!!!!!
Goodness knows where I pulled that speed from. But in retrospect it was a silly action! Me and my big mouth! I could well have torn a calf or hamstring and bang would have gone months of sound training this year. As it was I survived and can smile about it. It turned out that my fellow "sprinter" was the brother of Lee McCash who was a national class local runner ten years ago, sadly doing little nowadays.
So the third track session in 7 days went very well; the best set of 300s for a long, long time.
Athletics Weekly was on the mat when I arrived home. A headline reads....Lemoncello opts for marathon. Presumably written without knowledge of his blog or before he had written it.
It was interesting to note that the runner nearest my 1983 time was Jethro Lennox of Shettleston Harriers in Scotland, pictured here.
(Were his parents fans of Jethro Tull and Annie Lennox?)
This young man has excellent results on the fells. One notable victory being the prestigious 3 Peaks race in 2008 amongst others. He ran 2:53.39 compared to my 3:13 in 1977 but recently he seems to be shifting more to the roads now as I did. He just has the edge on me across the distances as you might expect (except steeplechase)
Perhaps he has been inspired by other leading fell runners who overcame a fear of tarmac with great success......Keith Anderson 2:17, Kenny Stuart (2:11) and Dave Cannon (2:11) amongst others. Great fellrunners who became great marathon runners.
3 easy pace days for me now before Monday's 5K hosted by my own club, Sale Harriers, starting at 11.15 a.m. (American readers please note)....a very sensible time!