Club handicap race – Fewston Reservoir.

The week following London Marathon consisted of a well needed sports massage, an unsuccessful club run and plenty of rest and food. Oh and i may have told my London story a few time during the week also.

A week on and my legs were starting to feel more normal. However, not wanting to do to much to soon I decided keep the beginners group company on Tuesday evening. It was great to be out running with the club again and my legs felt pretty good, no screaming muscles. It was also great to get my off road shoes on again as i am fed up with tarmac. The mixture of the river bank, fields and track oh and the great company was just what the Dr ordered.

Following a successful outing on Tuesday i decided to take part in the next round of the club handicap series. The next round was a 4 mile loop around Fewston Reservoir and a repeat of my first handicap race with the club this time last year. Following that not so great performance, setting off first and coming back last, i hoped to do better this year.

Meeting waiting/warming up at the reservoir car park was a great turn out of club members. There were eventually 40 runners taking part in the race meaning there were plenty of points on offer. My build up to London consisted or mainly longer runs and very little (virtually non existant) speed work and with not fully recovered legs i was not expecting to get many points. However, as this race was only 4 miles around the reservoir i was going to give it everything and see what happened.

We lined up at the start area awaiting for the start. A single runner was first off i was in the second group being set off 2 minutes later. Following a count down from 10 seconds my group was off and i sped off in pursuit of the of the leader. I initially went off hard but eventually settled into a hard but more manageable pace. The route around the reservoir is made up of lots of little steep undulations and a weaving well made path. Occasionally i could see the leader in front before he disappeared around the corner, but i was slowly closing in on him.

Just after the first mile i looked over my shoulder and could see that, like the leader, i too was being hunted down and soon i had been caught and was overtaken to relegate me into third. At half way point i got the chance to have a good look behind me as the route ventures up along the road before returning back to the reservoir bank. There was a very little gap (about 10 seconds) behind me and i was expecting to be caught again very soon.

Once down the steps from the road and back on the reservoir bank i upped my pace slightly to try and prolong the inevitable wave of overtaking runners. Running at this faster pace was making my lungs and legs work hard and i was unsure how long i could sustain it. With just over a mile from the finish I was yet to be overtaken by the chasing pack and still remained in third. I was still working hard and maintaining my new pace but i was starting to get tired legs.

With just under a mile to go i was caught and overtaken (by the eventual winner), i was now in fourth. Towards the end of the reservoir bank and approx 1/2 mile to the finish i was caught by a further three runners relegating me to seventh. However, i was gaining all the time on runner who was set off first and i really wanted to catch and pass him before the finish and gain a place back.

Down some steps to the road and the run into the finish was about 0.3 miles. I was caught by another runner on the run in to the finish but i upped my pace and tried to keep with them. Eventually i caught the runner who was set off first meaning i had made up the 2 min deficit, however he was not going to let me pass easily and the race to the finish was on. The final 50 metres of the race is up a steep hill to the finish. Not wanting to be overtaken again i gave it everything and with pumping arms I sprinted up the hill re-overtaking someone and creating a small gap behind me. While sprinting up the hill i was overtaken into sixth place and i eventually finished in seventh, so i thought.

As soon as i finished i turned around and could see a mass of runners powering up the hill to the finish. This was a very tight race and the handicaps people were given were spot on. Club runners streamed through the finish however someone was missing. The lady who over took me before the half way point had not yet finished and it was quickly evident that she had taken a wrong turn. I was gutted for her as she flew past me and would have won the race easily. However, this meant that i actually finished in 6th and as there were 40 runners taking part I was awarded 35 points towards the championship.

I managed to complete the 3.97 mile race in 38:37. I was really happy with my race and gave it everything i could. My pacing was good during the race, hard but sustainable, and i was able to have a sprint to the finish. My legs and lungs were burning and i felt great, high on endorphins!

When i got home i looked on the club website at my 2013 time and I was amazed to see i was 5 minutes quicker this time round. I am now looking forward to the next club handicap as by then my legs should have fully recoverd. However, the handicap race results are partly in the hands of the person who sets the handicaps, fingers crossed i get a favourable one.

Now looking forward to an off road run on Sunday, wife permitting.

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