This isn't a 'look at me' post but more of a comment around the approach some of us take to races and training. I'd wanted a PB at this race when I entered as done it twice before, but had no reason to expect one. This side of 40, I'd expect some sort of gradual improvement on the back of a culmination of months and years of running, but hadn’t done anything specific in preparation for this race. In fact I’d hardly run at all since a 50 mile ultra at the end of October.
Mrs theoptimisticrunner and I arrived at registration having had about 3 hours' continuous sleep the previous night due to optimisticjunior Version 2.0 keeping us up, so neither of us were in the best state to start running our socks off. Into the bargain, I'd forgotten to wear a watch so there would be no split timings or similar fancy bollocks. I was lucky to be fully clothed, awake and at the start line given the previous night's disruption.
I listened to a great Talk Ultra great podcast once which featured an interview with an American ultra runner (could have been Mike Morton). The gist of the interview was that he had run and won a cracking race (Badwater), but narrowly missed out on a course record by a minute or so. He said that minute probably stemmed from inefficiency during his run - taking too long at checkpoints, changing his shorts, not making full use of downhills etc.
So my approach to this race was that I was going to run as hard as I could for as long as I could. It hurt a lot, I got really hot and was out of breath for most of the race. I felt like I was going quite slowly and it seemed a while before I got going.
I had to stop and walk at the top of the housing estate opposite the Spread Eagle in Otterspool/Bredbury, but I picked up a good pacer to keep me going through the estate and on towards the final part of the course.
A high five from Rob Taylor at the foot of New Zealand road sent me flying up it with renewed energy. As I entered Woodbank park the race clock said 1:08 – a PB was on the cards but how quick could I be?
I usually try and finish as strong as I can but the final lap round the sports track was more of a trot – even though Bob from Emmerdale read my name out over the tannoy - with a good dose of coughing and spluttering at the end.
What has this taught me? Leave the watch at home and just enjoy yourself!