Track Race Afternoon in Stockport

When I was still in school, I never really got into running; it just didn’t interest me. I formed this opinion due to school running consisting mostly of short distance races, and I had discovered from my other sports, that I was not really much a sprinter.

As I’ve got older, it has become abundantly clear that I have much more prominent slow twitch fibres than fast twitch in my muscles. The difference being that in my older years, I now realise that just because you are not good at something, is not necessarily reason to avoid it altogether.

With that in mind, I went along to Stockport Harriers ‘David Tivey & Len Mullen Memorial’ track event afternoon; a really nice event that covered the 100m, 200m and the 1 mile for able bodied and wheelchair athletes.

I had no expectation, or delusions of grandeur here, so when they asked me which of the events I would be entering? I answered with all the confidence and conviction that a man with a bewildered face and shrugging shoulders could convey – “All of them!” I said.

My spider senses started tingling immediately at the start line, when my competitors all started fine tuning and adjusted their starting blocks (or whatever you call them) Did they just bring them from home? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t have one; I don’t think that mattered.

The starting gun went off, and to quote from Anchor Man – “I immediately regret this decision!”. I will admit here that after the first 10m, I was already so far behind I stopped trying, to spare my embarrassment. I pranced, skipped and fell over the line eventually; playing more to the crowd than anything else, who were all being quite supportive in fairness.

For the 200m, I decided that I owed it to myself and the organisers to actually TRY in this one, and I did; it’s just the result was much the same.

Right from the starting gun, everyone flew passed me with ridiculous ease. I looked on in admiration really; watching legs moving faster than I could make mine go; powering further ahead of me with every stride. Nevertheless, I ran as fast as my little legs would allow me to and finished with a slightly less embarrassing margin. So it would seem I have been right with my assessment all these years. I’m really NOT a sprinter! At least I know for sure now.

The mile race was one I thought/hoped I could make a decent account of myself in. I wasn’t planning on doing any Mo Farah school of tactics here; my plan was to set off and simply run around the track 4 times as fast as I could. It didn’t really bother me that I was blocking the headwind for the runners immediately behind, only for them to sprint ahead on the last straight. I was running for a time more than a place (although it was nice to not come last this time if I’m completely honest).

I knew that my cruising pace for a marathon is usually between 6:30 and 7:00, so I had a think what time I wanted to get. I knew that a 4 or 5 minute mile was pretty much out of the question, but maybe 5:30 was doable? I’d be annoyed if I did slower than 6… I crossed the line with my lungs on fire (think I might have picked up a mild chest infection) in a respectable time of 5:23.10.

So what have I learned from my school day of an afternoon? I think I’m probably going to let the sprinting go. It’s OVER!! I’ll continue using 400m and up mostly for my speed training, but I would really like to work on that mile time however. The theory being that if I can train my mile time down to closer to 5 minutes, my marathon cruising pace should improve proportionately. Certainly can’t hurt to try anyway. Challenge accepted!

Then I ran home, which I don’t think anyone else did. A nice, cool 10 miles, or at least that’s what it would have been if my curious nature/stupidity didn’t have me unable to run past a single trail footpath when I didn’t know where it went; probably nearer 15 miles in the end. Oh well! You live, you lear…. Well you live.

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