Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Fighting post-race blues and returning to form

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So I’m back from dull and dreary Mallorca to the sunshine and warmth of a British summer. Yes, you do indeed detect a hint of sarcasm!

Coming home has been something of a shock to the system. Or maybe that’s not quite the right way of articulating it.  The fact is, I think I’m suffering from some kind of post-race blues.  I’d placed such a lot of emphasis on doing well in Mallorca that the sense of euphoria at crossing the line and smashing my sub-5 hour goal has now been replaced with a kind of emptiness.

The problem is that the qualifiers for the ITU Age Group world champs in London start in just over a week’s time.  I simply can’t afford to have this current lethargy! So it’s time to give myself a good kick up the backside and get back into the final preparations for the race in Chester on 2nd June.

Things were helped a little by racing a local 5km road race this week. Organised by Severn AC up in Gloucester, the course was pretty flat and fast.  Some serious ‘runners’ (as opposed to triathletes pretending to be runners) were in attendance, but I was relieved on arrival to see that there were also plenty of ‘normal’ people just out for a mid-week blast.

My coach’s advice was simple: don’t smash it in the first mile, hold back and then start picking off people through to the end.  Simple enough in theory.

In the end, in the rush to get to the start line, I probably actually started too far back in the pack and had to spend the first two minutes weaving and dodging through much slower runners.  I was conscious that I didn’t want to get held up, but also mindful of coach Newport’s instructions not to kill myself in the first mile.

My shiny new Skechers GORun2 shoes felt great - I really had made a good choice to run these in Mallorca - and my legs felt a lot lighter than they had done in the previous 48 hours.

I had deliberated set my Garmin to show time only, so that I was unable to check pace (it was an unfamiliar course, so no recognizable landmarks to check distance by for most of it, anyway). I wanted to run this one entirely on feel.
By about ten minutes I was hurting, but it was bearable. No doubt I was working hard and little more to give, but I wasn’t exploding either. Good stuff. I yo-yo’d a little with another guy and there was a girl ahead who was running about the same pace, so I just focused on staying with her.

Flying in my lovely Skechers GORun2s!Into the last 1,500 metres and I had a rough idea where I was so decided I just about had enough to step up the pace a little more and then just hold on to the finish.  I managed to lose the guy on my shoulder and slowly reel-in the girl ahead.  I think she was beginning to falter as when I did pass her, the speed differential was higher than I had expected (I made the mental note to stay strong right through the pass, to psychologically discourage her from coming back at me! Thanks Chris McCormack) and then I could see the finish line about 300 metres ahead.

One final push and I crossed the line.  I was confident that I had finished sub-19 minutes, but checking the Garmin to see 18:33 was both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because I was FINALLY back under 19 minutes – and solidly under at that. Frustrating because I was literally TWO SECONDS away from a 5km Personal Best.  Dammit! I should have pushed a little harder!

What it does show is that Coach Newport’s methods are working. Although not a PB, Tuesday’s time was 30 seconds faster than I’ve run any other 5km this year. That has to bode well for the coming short-course racing in June.

And so my racing mojo is slowly making a return. As long as it’s fully back in place by next weekend then hopefully I’ll be in good shape for the London qualifiers.  Just the small matter of there being about 150 people in my age group all trying to qualify at the same time. With only 25 places to go round all the qualifying races, it ain’t going to be easy!

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs