Chichester Corporate Challenge – Race 3

It’s 7pm on Wednesday 25th March and I am standing outside the West Cornwall Pasty shop in Chichester.  Must be time for the Chichester Corporate Challenge.

A pasty

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that my event write ups usually start with my alarm going off; however this was a very rare event indeed.  Rather than starting at silly-o-clock, the Chichester Corporate Challenge is run midweek after 7pm.  This was the third race of a three race series and I was representing my company, Moneybarn.  

Most alarming about standing outside the pasty shop was that I was on my own (and not eating a pasty).  I was positive that I was at the right pasty shop; however I was due to meet my colleagues at 7pm and nobody was there.  My usual sense of direction at the front of my thoughts, I was fairly convinced I was at the wrong pasty shop and busied myself examining Google Maps trying to see if there was another one around.  A few minutes later I saw a bunch of my colleagues casually ambling towards me and knew that I was actually in the right place.  Perhaps I was a bit early?  Having never been early for anything before perhaps this is what being early feels like.  It’s lonely 🙂

Exchanging a bit of chit chat with my colleagues I felt nervous.  Much more nervous than I should have.  It’s a big deal for me to represent anybody other than myself whilst racing as I always want to put in a good performance and not let the side down.  

Soon it was time for the “A” race, which featured runners capable of running the 4.5km course in less than 18 minutes.  We had two representatives in this race (neither of which was me) and as they set off at lightening pace for their 4 laps of the course I set about a combination of warming up and cheering them on as they went past.

In what felt like a very short amount of time both of our runners from the “A” race were finished and it was time to make my way towards the start with my colleagues for the “B” race (featuring everybody else who wasn’t in the “A” race).  As is customary for my racing, I took a start position fairly close to the back and waited for the off.

In the back of my mind I had a target.  One of my colleagues had confessed earlier that she was looking at a time around 22 minutes.  I thought that if I kept up with her that would be an excellent result for me over 4.5km. My plan was formed. I would stick close behind her and if I felt good at the end try for a last minute overtake.  She was positioned just to my right, so I kept my eye on her I waited for the start. The start was announced and the group surged forward. Within 0.3 seconds I had lost sight of her and that was the end of that plan.  Hannibal would not have been impressed.

So without my master plan to follow I just ran.  Weaving through a few slower competitors eventually a couple of other Moneybarn runners overtook me so I tagged onto the back of them.

The short lap involved 4 left turns covering tarmac and cobbled streets.  Following the 4th left turn you were back where you started on the “start/finish” straight.  As I made it through the first lap the race organiser announced I was running with a group that were on for a 22 minute finish time.  Immediately I was concerned that the pace was too strong for me and I would fade.  Never the less my competitive nature kicked in and there was no chance of me slowing down.

Through the second lap in around 10 min 30 seconds if anything I was speeding up, but I felt good.  I hadn’t competed in an organised running race since the Stubbington Green 10k in January and the buzz of competition was probably delivering more adrenaline than I would have ideally liked.  Half way gone though, so might as well try to hold the pace.

Third lap done I was suddenly on for a finish around the 21 minute mark, which was beyond my wildest expectations.  I was also acutely aware that my breathing had become a lot more laboured.  Also my watch was reporting a heartrate of over 180bpm which is getting close to my running maximum of 192, so I clearly didn’t have a lot more in the tank.

The fourth lap was a bit more of a struggle; however I completed it in sub 5 minutes and crossed the line around the 21 minute mark (21:03 according to my Garmin).

Mentally scanning over my body I realised that I had not picked up an injury.  What a result!  Not only had I run at a reasonable average pace (the fastest I have ever managed) but I had done so without picking up a niggle.  This was especially important so close to the Marathon and was great news.

So all in all a successful event.  I put in a good running performance for my team, didn’t get injured and really enjoyed myself in the process.  The rest of the team had all done very well and everybody seemed pleased with their performances.  As they headed off to the pub to partake in a post race beverage I parted company with them to head home to see my wife and kids and try to lend a hand with the newborn.

During the ride home (motorbike not pedal – I’m not that keen) I had some time to reflect on how my race season is shaping up.  A 10k PB at Stubbington, a 5k Parkrun PB, an excellent run/bike/run at the Portsmouth Duathlon shaving 8 minutes off last years time and now a good performance at the Chichester Corporate Challenge.  Compared to last year, which was a series of errors and mistakes at almost every race, 2015 is looking a lot better than 2014.

Egotistically, I know this is down to the hard work I have been putting in during my training hours and it does feel good to be reaping the benefits.  Next event is the Brighton Marathon, a truly daunting thought.  26.2 miles is a very long way to run and I have never managed longer than 19 miles in training (which almost killed me).  Still only 11 days to go till we find out what “Iron” Snook is really made of.



And now for something completely different

Tonight I am doing something I have never done before.  I am representing my company at the Chichester Corporate Challenge.  Tonight is the final race of 3 and despite my failure to turn up at the first two due to family commitments, my place is still secure for race 3.

The route is 4.5km round Chichester, consisting of a 4 lap loop.  There are two waves of runners.  Race A is for those amongst us who are capable of running 4.5km in 18 minutes or less.  Race B is for everybody else.  I am in Race B.

Competing when I am representing somebody other than just myself is an interesting experience.  I am very used to playing team sports (well football at least) and so you would think that this would translate into a team running event, but it appears not to.  As such, I am way more nervous about running 4.5km than I should be.  For a man who ran 30km on Sunday, it would seem logical that 4.5km would be a walk in the park.  The problem with this is as distances get shorter race expectations seem to get bigger.

For the longer race events, simply finishing is usually my aim.  I didn’t give two hoots how long it took me to run 30km, I was just pleased to manage the distance.  For the shorter races I now have pre-conceived ideas of how long they should take me.  For 4.5km, I should be able to maintain a fairly quick pace.  I don’t have to worry at all about endurance and really I should be able to attack the race at full pelt.

Bearing in mind that I ran a 25 minute 5km at the Portsmouth Duathlon (where I had to follow this with a 15km bike ride and then another 5km run and was subsequently pacing myself), there should be no reason I cannot run a solo 4.5km faster than 5min/km pace.  I have never really attempted to run this fast before.  This presents me with two options.

1) I run at 5min/km pace which I know I am more than capable of and finish in around 22-23 minutes.  A perfectly respectable time.

2) I go for it.  Head out at 4:30/km pace and see if I can hold it.  This would give me a finishing time of around 20 minutes if I can hold on.  A much better result that 22-23 minutes, giving me a better showing for my team and company.

It seems a no-brainer that I would go for option 2.  The problem with this is the risk of getting injured.  As you run quicker, the chance of picking up a injury increases.  It is obvious that I need to do everything that I can to avoid injury; therefore option 1 becomes the clear favourite.

In truth, I don’t know which I am going to go for.  My competitive streak is very strong and the desire to do well for my company will push me even further.  Can I ignore this and run sensibly to make sure I don’t get injured?  

We will have to wait and see.

Update:  I managed the 4.5km in 21 minutes according to my watch.  Not bad at all.  Very pleased.