Tamworth 5 Miles

I got back from my USA trip on Thursday afternoon slightly jet lagged and a little worried about how much fitness I might have lost over the last 3 weeks.  The good news is that my weight was more or less the same, but my race during the USA trip showed my legs were quite rusty.

A few weeks ago I saw the Tamworth 5 mile race advertised and noticed that the route goes near to my house.  Although I didn't particularly want to race a few days after my holiday, it seemed rude not to enter.  It was also a good opportunity to test some new lighter New Balance trainers I bought whilst in the USA for $50.

As I knew the route pretty well I expected the second mile to have a gradual but tough 40 metre climb, followed by an up and down third mile before it being mostly downhill to the finish.  The tactics were to hold off for the first couple of miles and then to gradually wind up the pace.

We started at Tamworth Athletics Club track and as we set off the pace was extremely slow, none of the usual lunatics sprinting.  By default I was leading and despite trying to slow down no one really wanted to take on the pace.  Over the first mile it was much of the same and by now there was a lead group of about 10 of us and it was getting to the point of virtually tripping over myself.  I knew the plan was to take the first couple of miles fairly easy but this was ridiculous!  We went through the first mile in a pathetic 5.47 despite being mostly downhill - I pretty much knew straight away the first mile killed any chance of a fast race time.

Start - Pace was so slow I was in the lead by default

The second mile was the gradual but consistent 40 metre climb.  Whilst I had planned to take it easy the continued slow pace was starting to become irksome so I took the lead and increased the pace.  Pretty much straightaway everyone started to fall behind and I knew this was probably going to be the decisive move.  Despite being well in the lead - perhaps 15 seconds or so the mile split was even slower than the first - 6.14.  This time though there was a legitimate reason for the slower mile!

The third mile I knew very well as I run that section most days and it gets within 30 metres of my house.  It started off with a sharp descent and then a sharp re-ascent before flattening off for the remainder of the mile.  As I got to the third mile marker I had a look back and saw that my lead had now extended to about 25 seconds.  It was at this point I knew the race was for me to lose.  The mile split was 5.30 - pretty reasonable and just slightly outside my 10km pb pace which was not bad considering the up and down nature of the mile.

The fourth mile was sharply downhill, losing most of the early ascent in the second mile.  This was my only outstanding worry of note, if my descent was poor I could lose a bit of time and then it would be a case of defend the final mile.  As it was the mile was fairly comfortable although by now I was starting to puff a bit.  The mile split was a fairly meaningless 5.06 - 31.42 10km pace.

As I started the final mile I had another look back and I couldn't really see anybody behind so knew my lead was at least 30 seconds.  I was starting to feel quite tired, but knew the race was won as I couldn't lose that amount of time with the distance remaining.  The mile started off fairly flat but a couple of minor ascents here and there with a 10 metre net gain.  It was then just a case of re-entering the athletics stadium and complete the final 100 metres on the track to claim my first victory since 2008!  I think technically its also my first ever 'proper' victory in a UK Athletics sanctioned event.  Due to a small sprint over the final 50 metres it also ensured  I beat my USA time by 1 second so a small pb to boot.  I ended up winning by 36 seconds whilst 3rd place was a further 14 seconds back.

Into the final straight to complete the victory

It was great to come 1st out of 161 and even better that it came with a cash prize of £25!  This is in addition to the £100 I won at Race the Train and an Apple and Raspberry Pie in Vermont - not a bad month!

Collecting my prize

What has the race told me?  Not sure if I'm honest.  The first mile was so slow any chance of a fast time was out of the window straight away.  To provide some context my first mile in my last race was some 36 seconds quicker so I went from one extreme to the other.  It was pleasing to see the final mile was run in 5.12 despite it being marginally uphill and I was starting to ease off.  The course overall is not a classic pb course so to just be a minute or so slower than my equivalent 10km pace, despite the slow first mile probably shows i'm there or thereabouts.  Probably a bit of rust but I hope its nothing more than a couple of weeks of good training cant sort.

The table below shows how my mile splits were all over the place.  It really shows how slow the first mile was, but also the up and down nature of the course making it difficult to reach any definitive conclusion how my fitness has fared in recent weeks.

I have two more races coming up, the Tamworth 10km in two weeks followed by the Birmingham Half Marathon a week later.  The former race will be quite interesting as last year it was my first ever race since returning to the running scene.  Whether I'm in sub 34 minute form will be interesting to see.


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