OK. How does it happen? You race regularly, pushing hard to achieve your best time and hoping that each time you do, a PB is at the end of it. You can pick your course,decide whether the weather will be appropriate to the challenge, knock your pan in and..... zilch.
Today was my first time at Alloa. I entered mainly because I was too late to enter the Balloch to Clydebank, although I'd always hankered after a run in what is a superbly organised race. I also wanted to get a race in as I hadn't raced this year. Dire warnings from JR about treating it as a training run rang in my ears. Just have a good run. No heroics and enjoy it as a bit of speedwork. After all, goals 1 and 2 for 2009 relate to races of 53 and 95 miles.
Alloa is "undulating". The weather is windy, especially for the 4 miles along the road from Tillicoultry to Alva and beyond. There's a stinker of a climb at 11 miles followed by another about a mile later that does your legs.And you have no real speed in your legs after a winter of mileage far higher than you've ever done before.
So. I start slowly, heading wee Pat Burns for about 50 yards only because I skipped onto the pavement to get round some slower runners, but stayed ahead for only about 50 yards before letting him go off into the distance. NO. I'm not racing. I stopped for a pee at two and a half miles, losing about 150 yards on a Central AC runner who was matching strides with me. I was enjoying the race and the relaxed pace. Then I got into a wee group who kept changing places along the road. A guy from Giffnock North, a girl in a red vest, and an older runner whose stride rate was twice as fast as anyone else's. We kept overtaking each other and soon I started passing runners, including Central AC, that had been ahead pre-pee and then overtook two of our local ladies who were probably having an off day as I never can beat them. Then an Irvine vested guy who ran away from me at Grangemouth a few years ago and whom I'd never got close to again. Although mile splits had more ups and downs than an RBS balance sheet, each variation could be put down to either the hills or the headwind but suddenly I realised that instead of the wheels coming off at 9 miles as usual, this muppet was actually heading for a good time, certainly faster than I'd imagined possible. Hitting the hill at 11 miles, or rather at 10 and a 1/2 miles (ending at 11) I'd dropped the Giffnock guy and the girl. I was really delighted when the older guy asked the crowd at the top of the hill(a good crowd too, obviously aware of where and what was required support wise)for a big cheer for the over 60! As we hit the flat and then downhill he asked me if that was the last hill. I replied, "Surely to goodness it is" but no, there was another smaller but for some reason harder hill to go. Then it was all downhill and into the finishing straight and some support from Elaine, Jim and Pat from Milburn as I kicked past the old fella, stopping my watch at.... 1.41.05? (Chip time at 1.41.03) Can't be. It is! A P-pigging-B! by 43 seconds. With a pit stop. On that course. In that wind. Go figure! Handshakes with those around me, especially the girl in the red vest whose main target was 1.44 required to qualify for a guaranteed spot in a marathon (Edinburgh?). She did that OK, and some.
As I walked along for my t shirt and goody bag I met Pacepusher, waiting on Mrs Pacepusher finishing. He didn't get a PB;-). I looked for them after getting changed but couldn't see them so don't know how Caroline got on. Early results were already posted on the control caravan and I arrived home to a text confirming my time and place of 339th of 972 finishers. Not quite top 3rd. But ticking off part of one of my goals; to achieve 3 PBs this year.
Than I made the first bad move of the day, electing to drive home via the motorway to Stirling. Roadworks at the point where the Motorway from the new Clackmannan Bridge meets the M9 at Stirling. 4 lanes into one, a nightmare.
I'll sleep soundly tonight!