Apologies for the lack of updates- in future I'm going to try and update more frequently but possibly with less though a full training break-down will be coming...
I've unfortunately managed to pick up a quite bad ankle injury. I could feel some problems on the outside of my foot on my last day at Oxford but still had a good weeks training the following week. Deciding to play it cautious I then took a week off with only two work-outs- unfortunately over that week my ankle got significantly worse. Thankfully after one disastrous Tuesday run the next week I have been on a relative improvement since then and haven't missed many days running but quantity is way down. Quality-wise I missed two work-outs that week and a fair few steady runs. This week I did a "half" session on the Wednesday with 3 x mile (2:30 easy lap jog) with times of 5:05, 5:01 and 5:03 whilst easing off a bit for my training partner.
Then on Friday I decided with my ankle not particularly playing up on the Wednesday and just the residual soreness to chance a 3000m race. Shorter than I normally race well at but not quite as bad as the 1500m I thought it'd be an interesting race as rather than go for a fast time I decided to race it a bit more tactically. It was at the Herrts Phoenix Good Friday Open Meet and therefore my home meet! Having put down my PB and it being the fastest time there (though 3 more had predictions of 9:10-9:15 so it wouldn't be easy!) the pressure was building...
With 13 in the race it was going to be a scrum and unfortunately my clubmate Paul Greaves ended up getting shoved directly into me with my clipping the back of his shoe- thankfully no serious damage was done. By 150m in mark I was still boxed in at about 8th place with a girl and 2 young lads of about 13 or less ahead of me together with all 4 of the more serious threats. Adam Searle from Phoenix's long time rivals Stevenage and North Herts, a Enfield and Harringey athlete, a Southend athlete and clubmate Greaves. As we came up to the 400m point in around 72/73 seconds I went past the two young lads and moved comfortably into 5th place.
This brings me to something I just majorly do NOT understand about young athletes. Those two lads went on to run something like 10:30 or more than 84 seconds per lap and they went through the first lap in 72 seconds??? That is probably as fast as their 800m pace. For any younger athletes out there reading- if you get the pace right you will run a MUCH better race.
Anyways- I was settled into the group and sitting along quite comfortably as they towed me along at 9 minute pace and as this was meant to be more of a tactical race with hopefully a reasonable time I was quite happy! I felt very relaxed just sitting at the back of the group with the Southend lad up front. We went through 800m in 2:24 and I went past Paul on the home straight on the third lap as he dropped off the group. Now we were down to 4 and no-one looked like dropping off or particularly kicking on with Searle, E and H (Adam Jones) both happily sat behind Southend (Matt Clarke). We went through the km in 3:01 and then the 1200m split was 3:37/8 Still dead on pace. Unfortunately as I stayed lurking at the back I could feel easier and easier whilst normally this would be a good thing I knew it meant the pace must be slipping. Sure enough 1600 came in 4:53 or about 4 seconds lost on that last lap. I decided to make my move and on the home straight go into position and then kicked on with 3 laps to go (but still 200m more at the slower pace) and swiftly put enough distance on the group that they couldn't sit on me (far too often I see athlete make a break and not get enough distance to be clear of the group). The 2km split of 6:06/07 showed I'd made up a touch of time but still no chance of the sub 9! As I continued to try and break away I could hear supporters cheering for Jones apparently in pursuit of me and that he was catching. I kept on working whilst keeping a bit in reserve in case he caught me with the wind definitely tiring me out and the new faster pace making the lactic kick in. As I went through the bell still clear in 7:58 I could feel myself slowing and tried to kick on a bit and as I came down the back straight I thought I had it. Coming around the bend I could hear renewed cheers for Jones but held back until the straightaway where I left everything go for 9:07 and one of my faster 3000m finishes yet together with a win! Then looking down at my watch I realised I may have run a PB albeit only 2 seconds! This was very unexpected as I thought from the 1600 and 2km splits of 4:53 and 6:06 that it was out of the window- if I'd realised I was on for a PB I think I'd have had maybe a touch more in the final 400m because as it was I was thinking more about kicking on if Jones caught me. Eventually Jones was second in 9:11 with Searle in 9:14 and Clarke in 9:22. As both Jones and Searle are 2 dead or sub 2 800 guys pulling clear of them is great.
Splits of 3:01/3:05/3:01 are encouraging. I felt very relaxed through the first km. The second km the group slowed by around 6-7 seconds and my hard last 200m sped it back up before the final km being hard work on my own. I think sub 9 can and will happen very shortly provided my ankle heals and I can start doing some lactic work. Most important will be getting into the right race! I think I'm most happy about at 1600m being 4:53 and finishing in 9:07. In lots of previous races I go through 1600 in 4:48 and fade fairly badly- today I was kicking on and finishing strongly. I have little doubt that if the group had carried on at 9 minute pace I would have a sub 9 right now.
So good news for the summer provided this ankle heals up!