Watford Open Meeting 3000m

4 September 2019

After not being able to post for a few weeks I've now done two in two days; you're welcome! 

At the start of the year my main aim was getting the love back and challenging PBs; well in just over a week I've added two PBs to the tally and now have three of the year!  I am lovin' it.  

With family and work responsibilities I find it hard to run really good quality sessions that a lot of athletes take confidence from and help them progress.  I've been doing about 2 sessions a week all year, but at 6am it's pretty difficult to run at a pace anywhere near where I'd like to race at!   

To try and finish the summer season strongly I put three races in the diary in ascending distance.  I've been doing plenty of miles recently and have generally found if I can run quicker at shorter distances it's helped my confidence that I can then get close to that speed, but run further.  

So with the ultimate aim of getting back to a sub 15 for 5k I started at the mile (4 laps) on Tues 27 Aug at my home track, then the 3000m (7.5) on 4 Sept at Watford and finishing the season with the 5000m (12.5) Kent AC championships (who accept guests!).  My sister in law has been great and been able to lend an extra pair of hands while I've been out for the first two and my parents are coming up to help for the 5000m; I hugely appreciate their help :) 

After the first two it's so far so good!  The mile was part of a brilliant, friendly low key local event the 'Tour of Milton Keynes' (that I won in 2016) put on by our club that includes 6 races of various distances and terrains over the course of 6 days and your time is cumulative across the week.  I didn't do the whole tour this year (mostly because 7pm is about when my kids go to bed) but as the mile properly licenced and goes on Power of 10 I decided to go for it.  

There's only so much you can say about running round a track (just over) 4 times, but it went pretty much to plan.  I was hoping to run 4.30 and win, but came 3rd with 4.34 (PB by 2 seconds).  It's not quite as quick as I'd like, but proved I could run 68 laps to give me confidence for the 3000m.  I loved racing on our home track, but did not love the PB tax that I had to pay that night.  My legs were screaming and I just couldn't switch off; I was banished to the spare room!  

My legs were tired for a couple of days afterwards, but I managed a decent session on Saturday morning and had a great group easy Sunday leaving me feeling good before Watford.  

The Watford Open Meetings are a brilliant opportunity to run fast with athletes coming from all over ready to go as hard as they can.  Unfortunately, the 3000m (the longest event offered) is always the last event of the night and often the A race isn't until about 10pm!  Now, I'm generally in bed by 9.30; so this isn't ideal.  It is also just under an hour drive away from Milton Keynes so means a difficult journey down at peak time after work and then a late arrival home (and disrupted sleep if I have PB tax to pay) but when it goes well it's so very worth it!  

Traffic was pretty kind to me on the way down and I arrived just before 7; despite getting a transfer of a friend's entry number pick up took seconds; very easy.  I went back to the car and tried to relax.  Just after 8 my Dad arrived on his bike having cycled 12 miles over from Barnet, having his support such a huge boost.  Dad hoped back on the bike and cycled alongside (club mate) Graham and I on our warm up.  I felt sluggish at first, but 10 mins later the blood was pumping and I was looking forward to the challenge.  I didn't want to go off too fast, but also didn't want to start too far to the back as the field (unlike at a BMC Grand Prix) was likely to be quite stretched with the winner and last place likely to be about a minute apart which is almost a full lap by the end.  

I wanted to finish well into the top half of the field which should see about an 8.45 finish (70 second laps); my PB was 8.54 and it was there for the taking, it was just a matter of by how much.  It felt doable, but it's easy to say and a different matter to actually execute.  I did a few strides and put my race shoes on; it was go time!  

Just before the start it was announced that (3.57 1500m runner) Sam Costley was pacing at 67 laps, which helped me visualise where I should be in the pack.  We flew out and I got into a position in the middle and tried to relax.  We flew round the first lap and I felt good clocking ~69 seconds.  I tried to not push too hard and burn out and let a few runners go past me.  The laps ticked by and I held my position well.  I was probably a bit too conservative and didn't push until about 800m to go and then tried to empty the tank although I don't quite have the speed I want yet.  I came past a couple of people and finished strongly finishing in 9th place (23 started) in a new PB of 8.49!  

A lot of the lads in the race were younger and stepping up from 800/1500m and were completely flat out on the track.  Being so used to high(ish) mileage I panted for a few seconds, but with the adrenaline pumping felt absolutely fine pretty quickly.  I shook a few hands and walked over to my dad and to celebrate! 

You can watch the race here if you want to :)

Like a true pro I went for a jog warm down, had quick shower and then drove straight to Maccies round the corner for a Veggie Deluxe meal; I laughed as I entered to see Max and Sam Costley waiting for their order and had a good chat with them while we ate.  They had 2 hours to get back to Southampton, my 45 minutes suddenly felt a lot easier.  Fortunately, the M1 was clear and I managed to get some acceptable sleep.  

So now I have just over a week until the season ending 5000m.  I've done 4 laps at 68s, then 7.5 laps at 70s I'm going to give 12 laps of 71/72 sec (with quick final 0.5) a go next week!  The race is generally won in about 14.45 with a few going sub 15 so I should have plenty of company; I'm ready.  

Photo: with the best dad a lad could ask for.