Last Sunday held my first track race of the season and my second club track race ever! Having done very little speed work since September, I was undoubtedly even more apprehensive than usual. I didn’t know if my legs were going to be able to take the speed as I had been doing long, hard and slow stuff all throughout the winter. Nevertheless, my nerves were slightly quelled by the fact that it was my first one of the season and it really didn’t matter…inevitably though, I still wanted to do well and score a new PB.
The week leading up to the race, I was incredibly anxious – worsened by tapering. Honestly, I think the most awful thing about racing is having to take time off proper training beforehand. I’m usually a complete mess without my regular training runs – they keep me sane throughout my busy schedule! I just don’t feel quite right without them! I had to endure the first Saturday without running since I can remember but, sure enough, Sunday eventually rolled around. I packed my race bag and swapped my cross country spikes for shorter ones (with great difficulty – my granddad had to use a wrench)!
Soon, we were in the car and driving to Carshalton. We arrived a whole hour and a half before my race was scheduled – just how I like it! This meant we had lots of time to explore and warm up. Speaking of warm, the weather was the best I had seen it for ages and it was the nicest thing in the world to actually be able to wear my shorts and vest without freezing.
By 12:25, I was starting my drills. However, disaster struck. I was doing some strides and suddenly felt an agonising pain in my hamstring. My hamstring has been playing up for a while now but the pain is infrequent, on and off and never really that bad…until that moment. It hurt so badly I hobbled off the track to where my coach and family were sitting. I was in tears because I was convinced that there was no way I was going to be able to do the race. 5 minutes before we were due to start, I was lying with my face in the grass, crying whilst my coach massaged my leg. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to run and I would have to drop out. But, thankfully, my coach convinced me to get up and give it a go. Deep down, I knew that I would be more annoyed at myself if I didn’t even try and the pain in my leg was less intense now. So, at 12:35 I managed to get myself on to the start line with little to no warm up and paralysed with fear. Things weren’t looking great for my first race.
The gun goes and we’re off! They decided to run all the ages groups together but I immediately found myself in last place. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy. However, I completely surprised myself by managing to keep a cool head. I ran at a steady pace for the first two laps, trying to ignore the fact that I was still at the back of the field. Much to my delight, my tactics soon became successful. About half way through the third lap, I noticed most of the runners were tiring…but I was just getting started! Over the course of the last lap, I managed to pick up the pace considerable and get into second place! I crossed the line with a big new PB of 5:15 and a podium place! It felt awesome!
Personally, I couldn’t be happier with my race – especially considering the circumstances! I’m pretty sure lying on the floor in tears 5 minutes beforehand isn’t the best preparation plus it was my first track race this season so, hopefully, with more suitable preparation and after getting more into the speed season, I can get some good times! I’m also very proud of how I handled the situation. A few months ago, I would have definitely dropped out of that race or at least completely panicked due to starting off in last place but I managed to stay calm and execute a very composed and tactical race – which I don’t think I can say I have ever done before! I really can’t wait for some more track races as I really did enjoy this one so much!
I hope you all enjoyed reading! I’m finally off on the Easter holidays which is great as I can have a lot more time to run and blog and do just general fun things. We are also driving up to Brighton tomorrow for a very exciting weekend of running: my brother and I have the Brighton Mini Mile whereas my dad is tackling his first marathon! I’m sure it will be a weekend to remember so certainly look out for a blog post on that coming soon! Wish us luck!