The race started and I settled into my running quickly leading out a group of 5. I had been pre-warned that this was to be a race of 2 halves - lots of drags in the first half including what was described as a mile long hill, then some lovely downhills and flat sections to finish with. That proved to be pretty accurate - but the tough start of the race was made worse by the fact that we were also running into the breeze, plus the road was quite narrow, especially after the first right-hand turn where there was the grass median strip, and lots of puddles either side. Anyway, back to the race...
We took the first turn right and I was still leading. Through the first mile in 5:32 and shortly after the group of 5 had been whittled down to 3. Myself, Jason and John took various turns at the front, but nobody was prepared to make any moves on the long uphill mile. To be honest I wasn't feeling great at this point, made worse when John decided to try a surge about halfway up the hill. We all stuck together and normal cat and mouse service was resumed.
Upon reaching the top of the hill we were greeted with the next mile marker (a 6:00 split!). Then another turn right and as soon as we hit the main road the pace was on. Jason took up the running with me in quick pursuit and John fell off the back. I suddenly felt great - I tried a surge which Jason responded to, then another surge with the same result. This was the first time in a long time that it felt like I had a few gears to play with and with another surge I hit the lead and I seized the opportunity to really put the foot down. There followed a lovely downhill section that seemed to go on and on and I continued to run strongly. Through the third mile in 4:57 and still using the hill I was running full tilt. As the hill ended I had a moment of panic as I still probably had the guts of a km to run but luckily the remaining terrain was as flat as you could hope for. I really pushed for home and after a few more turns I could see the finish and with a final mile split of 4:42 I had crossed the line in 21:11 for the win. Jason was back in 2nd about 10 seconds behind with John snatching 3rd.
I'm taking a lot of positives out of this race. Firstly, the quick finish - a 4:42 last mile is sub 3:00/km pace and my Garmin recorded my quickest ever km of 2:54 as part of that mile. Okay it was course and wind assisted but still a nice way to finish. Secondly, the fact that I felt like I had more - I was cruising at the end and would have gone quicker if pushed. Okay the overall time wasn't great but it was a very tough first 2 miles and when the race did spark into life, I had plenty in the tank.
A warm-down of 3.3kms to give me 11.7kms for the day. Absolutely piss wet through by this stage, and then the long wait at the presentation for prizes which I eventually gave up on. Not to worry, a long hot shower when I got home and all was well in the world.
That's 89.4kms for the week. A couple of decent sessions in there plus a good race hit-out so I'm now ready for the half. I'm going to give it a real dig and probably regret that at around the 15km mark but at least I won't die wondering.