Three weeks on from a ‘successful’ running weekend, well it’s all relative in my world, I was back at Dolgellau on Saturday for another Park Run. In the two weeks in between I’d placed 2nd & 4th in stormy conditions, respectful enough but both times at just under 21 minutes were in truth disappointing & I was never in contention to win them.
A small field gathered at the start but excluded all three who’d beaten me the week before, was this at last my chance of a victory? One or two un-familiar racing bodies as ever also gave me cause for doubt. That said I was taking things seriously by scrapping my recent preference for running shorts & donning my compression shorts instead, small things matter?
As normal the race to the front puddle was won by a pint sized kid who loves this short 40 metres of limelight (carries on like that he’s going to be seriously quick when he grows up) but I was hot on his heels hoping he’d get out of my running line before I would be forced to trample him beneath my feet, thankfully he obliged & I was soon out in front.
After two hundred metres there were no sounds of feet behind me ‘is this then, finally my turn?’, an understandable feeling after 4 previous second places. Another 200 metres & then I heard them, footsteps from behind & getting closer. There was still hope as I optimistically reasoned that he might be putting too much into getting onto my heels that he might fail on the stamina test later on.
At the first turnaround Glyn the Marshall smiled & cheered me on but as I rounded the cone my pursuer (not the guy I most feared during my pre-start survey) was just 3 metres behind. I maintained my pace as he did too so as we rounded the 2nd cone at halfway the gap was still 3 metres, he clearly had me on a string all I could do was hope & keep running scared as fast as I could despite feeling pretty sure that he was playing with me.
Then about halfway to the 3rd & final turnaround the footsteps became just a little bit fainter, I surged to try & make a telling move. As I rounded the final cone once again to a smiling & cheering Glyn I saw my nemesis was now a few further metres back, I didn’t stop to measure it but lets say 8 metres to be reasonably precise, ‘this is it Paul, run the last 1,250 metres like your life depends on it, you may not get another chance as good as this one’, which is what I did.
Over the bridge for the last time, 700 metres to go, & I still had the gap ‘push Paul, push, you can do this’. Then it happened, 400 metres to go, the footsteps began to come nearer. For a runner who doesn’t have a killer kick I at least kicked as if I might find one but 100 metres out I thought the game was up, 40 metres ‘I’m holding him’ then came the change, he began grunting, he found his killer kick & stormed past me with 5 metres to go as I responded with a resigned ‘you bastard!’, I’d lost the win by less than a second.
In truth it’d been a real race & my nemesis aka David Brickman (new to the Dolgellau Park Run) had not only pushed me to my best time since resuming Park Runs this Autumn (16 seconds of improvement & 48 seconds faster than the week before). The further better news (upon reflection) was that I’d also beaten my course pb (from pre-covid times) by 3 seconds as I’d crossed the line in 20:11 a time which was faster than the winning time of a couple of weeks before. So hanks David for pushing me to such a great (for me) time.
Afterwards David & I congratulated & thanked each other as we waited for another David (also new to Dolgellau, the guy I feared before the off) to cross the line nearly one & a half minutes later having been in his own ding-dong with two regular over 65’s in the form of David Wright & Clive Edgington.
I have to be happy with the way I ran, my kilometre splits told me I was running well & came in at 3:55, 4:05, 4:05, 4:05 & 4:01 respectively, the last showing me that my loser’s 4 second kick needs some serious attention. Track evenings in Bangor in the New Year beckon for sure unless someone decides that that would be bad for my health.
Since signing up I’ve only missed two days running, am enjoying my running a great deal despite some seriously inclement weather at times, put in a fast 10K from home earlier today & am now well on track to go through the 2,000 mile barrier for the year as a whole. For December I signed up to 8 Challenges & had achieved 4 of these within the first two days, namely 24K in 24 Days, Half Marathon (both achieved on the 1st), 5K & 10K (both achieved on the 2nd). Since then 3 more challenges met so only the 300K for the month remains out there for me to chase, barring injury that’s looking in the bag in the days ahead.
All very positive for my turn the clock back dreams for 2022 so lets hope that the trials of the last couple of years are soon behind us for good & that we can all set ‘realistic’ goals for the year ahead.
A final thought, excluding the small Whippit, I’d led the field for 4,995 metres but must now focus on how to find another 5 metres from somewhere, motivation may well be the key to un-lock that door.