Last weekend was one of my favourite in the year - the Green Belt Relay. For those who aren't in the know the Green belt is a 22 stage, 2 day relay race around London with each team member running a leg on day 1 and day 2. It tends to attract pretty competitive teams and has a great atmosphere. Highly recommended.
So day 1 I was racing over roughly 10 miles from Staines to Windsor with the first and last third or so offroad and the middle section on park roads. From the start it was clear that it was going to be between myself and Jeff Cunningham. Jeff is a top class competitor and rival but he's clearly still struggling to get London out of his legs a bit! We were even until about 3/4 miles in when we hit the top of the hill ( I hate hills). I managed to push away off the top and despite a minor misturn in the park stayed clear and pushed on to get a new stage record. It was nice getting my stage done early as it meant I was able to a) have a drink and b) cheer on the rest of the team going around! Unfortunately my achilles (not that bad one, the other bad one) decided to play up so I spent a lot of the day getting acquainted with ice cubes (of course to get the ice cubes I had to buy a pint of cider first...)
Day 2 we very nearly missed the stage - we were headed in the wrong direction and going fast until some local knowledge got us re-directed and we made the start with minutes to go. Day 2 was against my frequent rival Hugh. I tried to go with him but after a mile or two it was clear he was a man on a mission and I was floundering! He broke away and I ended up staggering to the top of Reigate Hill (did I mention I REALLY HATE hills). I was still clear of third and fourth until my garmin decided to take me down a very nice driveway. By the time I got back onto the path Steve Whitehead had caught up and with Hugh well clear, the team being more than 2 hours behind Steve's Stock Exchange mixed team already I decided to take the easy route and run around with Steve rather than get myself lost again. We had a nice natter going around. I was planning on breaking clear with about 400 to go on the 8.7 mile leg and kicking in. Unfortunately the Garmin beeped for 8 miles, we turned a corner and there were some people in pink bibs standing near what looked awfully like a finish line. I half started to sprint, still not totally sure with Steve likewise - as I got a little closer I realised it must be and went flat out - Steve wasn't dropping though! As someone commented afterwards - normally in these sprints for the finish one party gives up and the other coasts in - that didn't happen here! Thankfully I managed to get my carcass over the line first.
The team as a whole did really well and with a roughly 50/50 split of men and women I felt it was a very strong performance in the mixed category which only required 2 women. Personally I was a bit disappointed on both days - I just didn't feel myself with very heavy legs. Hopefully back to normal soon!
Wednesday seeing as Hayley was doing a BMC at Eltham I decided to give it a go as well - it was so close to my work I figured it'd be a laugh. Looking at the entry list it was clear that there was going to be two races - a sub 4 one and a ~4:10-15 one. From the gun I was at the very back as we went through in 67 and I'd moved past Justina my club-mate. Tucked in behind Buzz Shepherd we caught one youngster relatively quickly hitting 800 in around 2:14. I then pushed past and caught another youngster with around 600 to go and started trying to maintain the pace. I didn't catch the lead group but I put a few seconds on the chasers and was generally quite pleased with a 4:14.9 showing. My second fastest ever and with no specific pace work done I'm sure in the next few months I can post something a little bit quicker. Definitely an improvement over the paltry 4:22 I ran at SML!
So on to Brockwell Park on Saturday. My lunchtime run partner Mike Leong was taking a stab at a sub 18 clocking on the mildly difficult Brockwell Parkrun 5k course. I like Brockwell as it's all on tarmac and has a small(ish) hill that you go up both laps which on lap one seems fine but seems very tough on the second lap!
The pacing went pretty well. We were through the first 3k roughly on pace, a hard 4th k up the hill meant we lost around 20 seconds on the pace but the last k Mike really rallied to run his fastest of the race and drag back a lot of the time for an 18:10 which is worth sub 18 for sure on a really fast course. Lots of room for improvement as well there.
My left achilles hasn't been totally happy since the Assembly League 5k - minor tweak and it's never been really painful but I'm aware of it. Hence I've now embarked on an aggressive strengthening, icing and calf massage campaign on both achilles - it's fine now but marathon training is approaching and I need them both to be in tip-top shape and strong as an ox for that.
Right - enough for this time - take care people and see you at the races.