Alsager 5

Time to race at last! After being ill through from mid-November to New Year this was long overdue.

Alsager is always a quality field at the sharp end & a race I’d wanted to do for a couple of years but with it being a fair drive away hadn’t previously been in shape to justify the drive.

This year was different & although deep into marathon training I felt I was rounding in to good form & more than ready to get stuck in to a proper race. Unfortunately the weather gods had other ideas! Although the snow stayed away the wind didn’t & it was a baltic 20+mph that was constantly swirling round all morning.

We got there in good time, picked up the chips & got going for an easy lap of the course. Bad mistake on my part as this was too slow for me, especially given how cold it was so will address that next time. A slow change at the car due to not being able to feel my fingers & it was time to make our way to the start & warm up properly.

It was clearly a quality field & the first mile was going to be pretty rapid with a following wind. I got a reasonable start & was in the middle of a lead pack of about 20 heading round the first bend. A small group of 4 made their way off the front & I worked hard to stay with the second group. Looking back, I was working far harder than I’d expect with the wind behind us to go through the first mile in 4:48 – clearly the cold was having as much effect as the wind!

I drifted slightly off the 2nd group & was inadvertently the leader of a chase group but despite running into the wind I was able to push the pace on hard & through the second mile in 4:56 it was just me & one other (Matt Barnes) who were left to chase a top 10 spot. We worked reasonable well together but did race more than we perhaps should have & therefore didn’t get the most benefit from sharing the pace into the wind.

We started to make some headway into a couple of people dropping off the next group & over the next couple of miles slowly caught & passed a few (5:01 & 5:03) & felt to be working hard. The wind was especially brutal between 3 & 4 1/2 miles!

Matt just got a gap on me as we took the last few corners which weren’t especially clear & I couldn’t pull that back. So 10th in 25:08. Despite the cold & wind I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw 25 on the clock as I neared the finish! I hadn’t checked my Garmin throughout & thoroughly expected the time to be closer to 24:30!

A long drive for a rubbish time relative to current fitness, but good to be mixing it towards the front during some high mileage. Next race is a bit more low key at the Stamford Valentine’s 30K on the 15th where I’ll have a couple of easier days before & look to run this hard for the first time. The Hague will soon be here & I’m happy with progress towards that currently. This isn’t a picturesque race, but it is definitely a fast course. There aren’t that many options for early fast 5M/10K’s in the UK so worth a trip if in good early season shape.

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