Watford open. 3000m. No surprises on the target - sub 9. Just like it was again and again and again last year and again and again and again this year. Desperate to scrub that infuriating 9:00.23 off the record!
Bit of a warm up rampaging round a pitch black field in the rain with Simon and his mate. Because you're never 100% sure which race you'll be in, you need to be ready for the earliest possible, which I was, but as I was in the second race, I was probably fully warmed up a bit early, and my legs felt a bit stiff by the time our race came around, at what must have been almost ten o'clock.
Big field means it takes a while to settle into a place, and I notice immediately that Simon has jettisoned the sensible 72s pacing strategy and is heading out with the lead group. Screw that for a game of soldiers, I'm sticking with the 71s. Well, it's a 70 to start with, but it always is. Second lap and the pace is already feeling hard, maybe I'm suffering from not having properly raced anything shorter and faster than 3K this year. However, it's a 71, so 2:21 at 800, and the 1K comes up in 2:57.
Now I'm in a bit of no-man's land. There are people around, but a few metres ahead and behind. Still, at least it's good to have space to run in. The 71s keep coming, feeling increasingly hard work, and 1600 is reached in 4:44ish, which is still ahead of schedule. Simon is way ahead in a good group, not going to bother chasing him.
The 72s start coming in on the fifth and sixth lap, but I know I'm ahead of target. More worrying is the feeling that I'm going to run out of steam at this pace before the last lap begins, but at least I'm counting down now. Into the last km, and it's just a case of hang on. 600m to go, and the mental calculations for what happens if I have a meltdown start. 400m to go and the clock says 7:44. All I need is a 76. That's slower than 5k pace, but I try to hit the last lap hard anyway.
200m to go, and someone is coming back towards me. It's Simon Coombes! Right, the race is on! Put the hammer down, or what little hammer I have left, and I'm eating up the ground. 100m to go I'm 5m down. 50m to go, I pull alongside. He sees me and responds. We're neck and neck. No-one blinks and we press for the line. Briefly consider grabbing his hand and holding it aloft, in the style of Dick Beardsley and that other bloke, but think better of it. Across the line right alongside one another, and neither of us know who crossed first.
Either way, I'm stoked to see that I have broken 9 comfortably. Final results confirm that it's 8:55.22. Final results also show that I have edged Simon by the width of a money spider's ballsack - an imperceptible 0.02 seconds.
Thank god for thread rivalries for spicing up a race!
So, with my only PB since last September being the marathon, I now have four PBs in August, and my plan for five August PBs is nearing completion. Bonza!
Great triathlon there Reggie, and fingers very much crossed for the GB qualification. You can join Dean and IC on this thread's internationals list.
Handy reps there SG, sounds like there's plenty of speed in the tank. Will be interesting to see which parkrun you crop up at. Maybe we can have a sweepstake.
CC, good threshold session, I really like those 3 or 4 x 10 minute ones, although I usually do them on the track.
Dean - sorry to hear of your travails, and shame not to see you down at Watford, was looking forward to meeting you. Recover well, and hopefully there are still fast times in the tank for the remainder of the season.
Simon, nice front running there. Yes, I shall be there all present and correct tonight. Will have my eldest in tow, he doesn't usually mind a bit of spectating. We ought to agree a target time so we end up in the same race. I usually put down 8:55.
Track spikes - I wear them up to 5000, but my feet do moan for a couple of days after that. I've got a track 10000 next month, but think that'll be a bridge too far for the spikes.