After a month's break it was back to racing last Sunday with a return to Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire for the WINDMILL 10K ; a Fylde Coast Running event.
Yet another 10K you might be saying? True. But, as with Mo Farah at the moment, I personally still find the event a suitable challenge for where I am after 49 years of competing.
I'm not inclined to pay up to £90 to "run" through rivers, crawl through tubes or fight my way through barbed wire!
No, the challenge this season was to run even sub 7 minute pace for 6.2 miles , get back to under 43 minutes and put a brake on the downward trend in 10k times year on year.
Unfortunately, 4 of the other 5 races in 2012 over the distance have made that task impossible. Platt Fields was waterlogged, Boggart Chase included half a dozen stiff climbs, Stanley Park was a maze of twists and turns, Tholthorpe was hot and hilly. The first attempt at Salford was too soon; I lacked the fitness.
But not having dipped much below 40 m.p.w since July hopes were high for a good performance on this flat coastal run with few twists and turns; just as long as the wind behaved! And with 700 entered there should be competitive company all the way around.
As I warmed up I met former training mate Ilkley's Eddie Irving whose online entry had apparently failed; he took up my suggestion to "run around with me". Capable of sub 38 as an M55 it would be a tempo run for him. He ran under 50 mins for 10 mile at his best.
Being Remembrance Sunday we stood for the customary 2 minutes before heading south along the promenade past the Lytham windmill. We covered the first "garmin" mile in 6.54 ; bang on target. Turning back and heading north as usual we started to chase down several clearly too fast out of the blocks for comfort going through 2 miles in 6.46. The video shows I was 63rd at this point.
What wind there was now taking a bit of a toll on those in front and we continued to go overtake. I don't know how Eddie normally races but I hoped that he was enjoying the thrill of the chase as much as I was. Miles of 6.57 and 6.55 followed. A sub 43 clocking looked certain as long as the wheels could stay on! Which they did; a fifth mile in 6.45.
We were back on the promenade now with a warming sun on our backs, the breeze pushing us from behind and some welcome support from dozens of spectators. We continued to overtake as we hit the 6 mile point in 6.47. Eddie pulls out at this point as I mount a final charge over the last 0.26 (?) in 1.39 to bring me home in 42.43. A season's 10K PB and 25 seconds faster than last year; so very pleasing.
The splits then at 6.54 6.46 6.57 6.55 6.45 and 6.47 were much as I would normally run so I'm not sure that having Eddie present made a difference but who knows? Certainly going through more than a dozen runners who fail to maintain the pace over the second 5K is now becoming the norm as I eventually went through to 46th.
The category win proved elusive as usual; finishing 2nd of 15 to the superbly consistent Wesham runner, ALAN HUDSON. But perhaps THE run of the day was that of M65 JOHN MORRIS (Wolverhampton) who ran a fantastic 40.12. Hardly surprising to see that he tops this UK's 10K rankings with a January time in Paris of 38.32 when he was younger.........66!! Phenomenal!
Pat's video clearly shows how Wakefield's PAUL LOCKWOOD (31:38) dominated the race straight from the "gun" and was never threatened with FCR's Autumn Breaker 10K winner, IAN GRIME (Newham) second (33:25).
Blackpool's BEV WRIGHT is well used to winning her vets F50 category but may well have been surprised to win overall in 41:30. Perhaps her young rivals were racing on the country.
So all in all a pleasing day at the seaside. A fine, enjoyable, autumn day and one for which the wind was not too unkind. Rare for the Fylde coast. A 147th 10K which for once went to plan and the challenge of consistent sub 7 mins pace was faced and overcome.