I completed Ironman Florida in November and enjoyed an extended break up until New Year. No cunning seasonal periodization, I just felt like doing nothing or at least nothing of any consequence. My only rule was that if the run or bike or swim moved from recreational to something feeling like training then it was time to stop and go grab a cake and coffee. I fully embraced the training regime and stretching my belt to its final notch, a notch showing no signs of wear and tear. So, all set for 2014 with a physique verging on Clydesdale proportions but at least I was well rested.
Folksworth holds no mystery for me having done it more than a dozen times. It’s a brutal 15 miles of lung bursting hills offering no place to hide, sometimes described as an ‘honest’ course. It’s always the first race I enter for the new season, a great benchmark of where my fitness is or rather isn’t. This year it was panning out to be more isn’t than is.
The start is always great fun, the first mile gently downhill, encouraging runners to race from the gun fuelled by unbridled delusion. I approached the race with my usual self talk, you are out of shape, your calf niggles, you did a big ride Saturday blah blah, positioning myself mentally in the ‘it doesn’t matter’ zone, carefully managing my own expectations.
So, BANG, we are off and I got swept along for a 6 minute first mile, twit. OK, check the legs, all good, right, keep comfortable but ‘on it’ until the wheels fall off. Mile after mile ticked by, I even hit the hills like I was doing reps, pushing up and over the top. I purposefully hadn’t started my watch (no HR to run to either, mind games) so I had to ask fellow runners from time to time what the pace was, around 645s. Lap one down and I still seemed to be in a good place so I kept at it and tried to keep my cadence high. I had secretly thought 7min miles would be a good result and had set that as a loose goal but it was looking like I would be well inside that. In the last few miles I reset my goal to be sub 645s and pushing along I slipped just inside this, averaging 637s.Very satisfied to come within touching distance of previous times, 1:39:03 29th overall, although it must be said conditions were as good as I have ever experienced.
Happy with that, now to dial back the cake and dial up the miles.