Promising Times

Following the Time Trial in the last post, I ran an easy 8 mile the following morning and then an hour on the elliptical trainer in the afternoon in between covering the F1 Post GP test at Barcelona. The left hip and groin continued to give concern which continued into Thursday’s long club run with GRC, which saw the hip ache for much of the run. It wasn’t enough to slow me but the ache was similar to what I experienced when the second sacrum fracture occurred, so it wreaked havoc on the mind as I feared the worst with every stride.

Thankfully no ill did materialise and the body was grateful for a scheduled rest day on the Friday. I woke early on Saturday morning to head to Melton Mowbray Country Park for a second stab at the parkrun held there. I arrived a little later than planned and so could only do just over a mile for a warm up. The nagging pain in the left hip was still there; I prodded quite firmly in the lower back and felt a release in the hip area. We were called to the start and was delighted to feel no discomfort at all from the moment we set off.

I was in fourth for the opening 100 meters or so but took first position by the time we reached the narrow bridge and set off up the steep hill for the first time. I formed a group of three who soon split from the rest of the field. The other two were unwilling or unable to take the pace so after the first mile (5:26) I made it my intention to try and make a decisive break so they couldn’t use me as a wind break on what was a fairly windy day.

The Melton parkrun course is a busy, twisty, two lap affair made up of sections of off road, gravel paths and part footpath. It meant there was little opportunity to pour over the Garmin data during the run. So aside from the mile splits and an occasional glance at the (pretty high) heart rate, it was a rare case, for me, of running to feel.

At the start of the second lap I still had my two shadows in tow. As we hit the big hill for the second time I knew that would be my point of attack and I pushed hard. It worked, for by the time I reached the summit I had a four or five second gap. There was to be no more looking back and I pushed on down the gradual descent on the other side.

It was there I suffered cramp in both lower quads. It was a similar cramping to what I experienced on two occasions post Christmas last year. I put it down then to Christmas excess and dehydration. I think I can claim I was dehydrated too at the parkrun. I also noted that on each occasion I’d eaten spicy food the night before, so there maybe a connection there. The pain was quite severe. If I had not been leading or if I wasn’t on for a good time, I probably would have stopped. However the lure of both a first place finish and a good time willed me on. Mile two was covered in a slower 5:46, but I dug deep to keep pushing all the way to the finish, clocking 5:36 for the third mile and crossing the finish line first in 17:25.

To put this time in perspective, it is a course PB for me by 1:29 and is currently the second fastest time run by anyone at Melton. It is my equal third fastest parkrun on any course (My best is 17:20 at Coventry, then 17:21 at Peterborough). Both those courses I consider to be much quicker than Melton, which is hilly, twisty, and half off road. I was very pleased with the time; a little less happy with the cramp in my legs.

This ruined plans of a long warm down, instead it was an effort to walk back to the car, which I had parked in a hurry and couldn’t quite remember where it was. Thankfully by the end of the day the worst of the effects of cramp had worn off and I looked forward to cycling with Witham Wheelers the following morning.

The Sunday morning club ride was a lot of fun. It was a group of around 20 riders and I, from the off, was feeling quite strong, taking turns at the front into a headwind. At around 30 miles I joined a group of four who formed an informal breakaway to the coffee stop. I struggled at times to stay on their wheels, but I was a lot stronger than I was four months ago. Following a tea and Bakewell Tart, the run home began gently enough but soon the pace picked up and I was again comfortable in staying somewhere near the front of the pack and taking turns. At times I could have gone faster but we were under instructions to keep the group together as best we could.

We were split a little by a level crossing, so the final miles I wasn’t in the front group. I saved my efforts for the final hills in the Belvoir area and was pleased to clock the tenth fastest time on Strava up Countesthorpe Hill and the second fastest time on the drop back down into town from Barrowby. Seventy eight miles was covered in a shade under 19mph and I felt as fresh at the end as I did at the beginning, which is very encouraging.

Monday was a bit of a shambles. I was supposed to row, run and swim at the gym, but I was delayed getting there and then forgot my swimming trunks, so could only manage the row and run. The treadmill run though was pleasing – eight miles covered in a progressive manner in 55 minutes, culminating with ten minutes at 16-17 km/h. Not being able to swim (and test my new goggles) is not great preparation for the upcoming triathlon, but at least it is only 400 meters of swimming to be covered, which I should be able to do on a minimum of training. To make up for the lost exercise, I put in an easy 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer in the evening.

Yesterday’s Time Trial with Witham Wheelers also didn’t quite go to plan. It was meant to be a lap of the road race circuit (Around 12 miles), but a lack of marshals (And competitors) meant at the last minute the TT reverted to the usual ten mile effort. I was cold and wet, my feet numb, and I struggled to keep up the heart rate over the course and nearly came a cropper on a couple of the wet bends, both covered in loose gravel. My Garmin time of 26:47 was therefore pleasing under the circumstances, as was the post ride brick run – 5k covered in 20:00.

Following an easy run this morning over some hills and trails, the plan now is to consolidate ahead of Monday’s BUPA 10k in London, which will be quite easy as I will be flat out working for the most part on the Monaco GP, which is always one of the busiest F1 events of the year. I’m hopeful if I can stay injury free and avoid a repeat of the cramping episode I suffered at parkrun, I could put in a half decent performance on Monday. It will be the first time I’ve raced in anger since last September, so it will be interesting whatever happens.