Racing. It’s a funny but precious concept in the world of 2020. A year which we all thought would be loaded with racing, bizarrely, has been almost race free. However, whilst the situation allowed, I made the most of the opportunity to race and headed to the PB5k in Ardingly to take my legs for a spin.
When I initially saw the line up, I was nervous but excited, as it was stacked. There were so many class athletes and I had no clue where I would stand amongst them. With no consistency or regularity in racing at the moment, it is difficult to know where you fit in and what sort of fitness you are in. This makes it a bit of a guessing game and a gamble, but exciting nonetheless.
On the morning of the race I had a mixture of feelings. Excitement and nerves obviously flowed, but it also felt very unfamiliar. Whilst the gap without racing wasn’t as long as it was in the first lockdown, I felt a lot of my nerves were coming because I felt like I had forgotten what to expect from a race!! It sounds silly, but I wasn’t sure if I’d remember how to go with the race or how it felt being in the race itself. The week and a half leading into the race my legs hadn’t felt great, but this is very common for me when approaching my period. I knew I was due on the weekend of the race, and typically it would come just before the race. However, this didn’t throw me off at all, it actually gave me a bit of confidence and relief, because I knew the heavy-legged feeling would be gone, and it was. It also gives me that boost that I am a healthy functioning athlete and should channel this healthy strength into my performance, and it did, because I felt really strong when racing.
The race itself.
The race itself was really well organised, and it was nice to be able to race in a slightly larger group than I have in the past few races. The course was on an open show ground and included 20+ turns over the whole 5k. I also knew as soon as I arrived a fast time wasn’t going to be on the cards as the winds reached 15mph and it began to rain, but it was fun conditions nonetheless.
Throughout the race I felt pretty strong. My legs were able to cope with the surging as we had to slow round corners to not slip and speed up as we came out of them. I started off in the pack, but as the race went on we spread out slightly. I ended up slightly isolated in 4th place, which wasn’t great in windy conditions, and in hindsight (it’s always easy to say) I wished I tried to cling on to the leaders for a bit longer. At the 4k mark, Callum shouted to me from the side line, “you’re strong enough to get her” (3rd place) and this really made me think, actually, yes I am. I caught up with third and intended to sit on her shoulder until nearer the end, but I was feeling strong, so I pushed on ahead and overtook her. I picked up in the last 500m and came in 11 seconds behind the leaders in 16:35.
I felt slightly bitter sweet at the end. It was great to race and push myself, and I am grateful for every race I get to do at the moment, but I would’ve loved a faster course so I could accurately see where I am time wise, as I’m feeling in great shape. I massively surprised myself by coming 3rd as with the high quality field of girls running, I didn’t think being in the top 3 would be achievable at all, but it was. I think it has shown to me the importance of believing in myself and being more confident going into races. That being said, it is difficult when racing is so infrequent, as you have no idea where you stand or what sort of shape you are in.
Who knows when the next race will be, but after last weekend, I feel ready to get back to racing and when until the right race comes along next. For now it’s time to focus on training and enjoy Christmas!
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!