Brig bash 5
I had hoped to be writing this on the new website but I’ve missed a number of blogs due to that hope and I've got so much to say - for a change!
Brig bash is a small race which starts and finishes in Bridge of Earn, just south of Perth, about an hour from Edinburgh.
I have ran the race a number of times and really like the route. Quiet country roads, reasonably fast course and the buffet afterwards is great.
Mandy and I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so I went in and collected my race number and then sat in the car watching the rain start.
It was a 7:30pm start and the car thermometer said it was 17C outside, a bit warm, but the rain took the edge off.
At 7 I headed out for a warm up with the other guys from Edinburgh AC. 2 miles to get the legs woken up. Some strides and drills and then we made our way to the start line.
The course start had a couple of bottlenecks within the first couple of hundred metres. I decided to get myself as close to the start line as possible. I was standing right behind Bryan Mackie, Stuart Johnston and Colin McGill. I train with them on the track and know they are faster than me so this looked like a good place to be. Nicholas Wolverson also runs for Edinburgh and he was just beside me. He is a mile monster, eating up ultra-distances for breakfast and occasionally training at the track as well.
We got off to a good start, missing the bottlenecks and getting in to a good pace. Bryan, Stuart and Colin were off but Nicholas was just on my shoulder as we settled in to the race.
Now, this might be where the race went so wrong for me, I was looking at my watch, checking the pace, chasing the PB instead of just relaxing. Well actually, that's not entirely true, I felt really relaxed and the first mile felt comfortable but then the watch showed 5:29 first mile!
Mile 2, 5:38 was more on target but something didn’t feel right. I turned my watch screens off and just ran by feel from here on in, only 3 miles to go.
About 2 and a half miles in, there is a small incline and I eased off the pace. Nicholas pulled ahead but I wasn't going to worry, he is a stronger runner and I could feel a twinge of a stitch coming on.
Mile 3 to 4 is slightly downhill and I was feeling a bit better, I relaxed my posture and focussed on getting my legs turning over. Lifting my knees and just relaxing my body. I caught up with Nicholas again and briefly passed him but it wasn't to last. The stitch was poking its head up just to remind me that it hadn't gone away and it was just waiting to kick in - I wasn't willing to let it win!
With less than 800 metres to go I had been able to stick with Nicholas and one other runner, we came around the final corner and I was just about to pass the other guy and make a charge for home when the stitch had the final say.
I pulled up instantly, unable to breathe, I wondered to myself if I could run the final 300 metres holding my breath, I briefly stopped and walked but I wasn't going to let anyone catch me in this final part of the race. I didn’t catch Nicholas or the other guy but I also didn’t let anyone else catch me.
I approached the finish line, crossed it, probably in my slowest ever finish and clocked a time of 29:09. My 5 mile PB is 28:55.
Even if I hadn't got such a bad stitch I wouldn't have PB'd, my pace had dropped too much over the rest of the race.
Once I crossed the finish line the stitch didn’t get any better and I need to say a massive thanks to Bryan. He worked his magic and got me to a point where I could breathe deep again. I was going to try and explain his technique but it's not easy to describe in text, all I will say is, it worked!
I was pleased to finish 13th / 230
I took yesterday off from running because my ribs were still sore, even just walking I could feel where the stitch had been. I plan on going for a ten mile run home tonight as the weather is looking pretty good, no pace in mind, just nice and easy.
So I have had a day to reflect on what happened. It should have been a PB race. The simple fact is, I went off too fast. It felt comfortable enough but there was no way I was going to be able to sustain 5:29 pace. I'd basically gone hard from the start and my body wasn't ready for it. Even with a 2 mile warm up.
I should have checked my watch sooner.
When I did look at my watch for the second mile, I was focussed on keeping the pace at 5:40 but I maybe should have backed off here, get the average pace to 5:40 again and then be recovered for the final 3 mile run home. Instead my pace was suffering from mile 3.
I think I need to do more short races, races that really push my fitness rather than endurance. I would like to give another 5 mile race a go this year, I just need to try and find one!
Feedback I've had from my coach is I should have hit the first mile in about 5:45 and picked the pace up over the next 4 miles, rather than go out like a mad man and drop the pace on the following miles. I would agree with him, I think it would have led to a more enjoyable race and maybe even a good PB. Another race done, more lessons learnt!