Race Report: Ipswich Summer Series Final Race 5k

21021_893710250699642_4762369378363768488_nChristchurch Park 20/8/15

I’ve been away in Suffolk for the last week and at the time of booking the holiday with the family, knowing I’d be missing a couple of races back home, I searched for something in Suffolk to keep me going!
I registered to run the last of the Ipswich Summer Series – a set of 5k events run across the Summer. Events have also been organised in the nearby seaside town of Clacton.
I’d never been to Ipswich before, let alone the park in which the race was set: Christchurch Park.
On arrival people were beginning to gather and from a general look around there were clearly going to be some fast runners. There were a number of clubs represented, with the main groups from Felixstowe Road Runners and Ipswich Jaffa. A guy from Sheffield in particular looked like he’d be the pace setter and the one to beat over the 5k. Not that I was thinking in any way that I was likely to win, my PB at 5k – run on the Riverside Park Run circuit – was 21.37. My key focus was trying to sustain my pace more evenly, I tend to run a 6.2 to 6.4 first mile on a 5k and then falter somewhat! I was also aware that the course was described as ‘undulating’ so wanted to keep enough in reserve for the hill sections.
At 7pm we were counted down and then off. The initial section was a flat stretch of about a quarter of a mile. As expected the guy from Sheffield flew off with a group of 6 of us in pursuit. I fell in alongside a couple of others at what felt like a decent and comfortable place. The remainder of the first mile was relatively flat with the odd up and down, slowing quickly to navigate around the features of this Victorian park. I was really happy with the first mile 6.21 minutes and feeling strong.
Then alas came the climb at 2k towards the end of a first lap of two. With Keith’s voice ringing in my head I increased the frequency of my steps and reduced my stride length. The hill was a steep and continuous climb. My pace was ok but my breathing became more erratic effecting my rhythm. A flat completed the first lap. As I ran through the start / finish line the marshal shouted out ‘just over 10 minutes’.
I was delighted with this but the climb had just knocked the wind out of me. Not quite sure why but I was beginning to struggle and knew the climb was coming again at the end of the race. Slowing somewhat, I was passed and moved into 8th place. My split for the next mile showed the drop in pace 7.17 minutes.
Struggling through the next km I began to recover my breath and prepare for the final climb up again to the finish line. As we zig zagged around the bottom end of the course along a boardwalk I was passed again but decided to let them go as I was aware of another runner approaching me quickly from behind. I was determined to hold the distance between us, but she was pushing hard.
The final climb at the end of the lap arrived. I felt rather sick at the top but pushed on for the finish and managed a sprint to the line: 21.49 minutes and 9th place.
Clearly, I’ve still got lessons to learn over pacing as my mile splits show: 6.21 mins, 7.17 mins and 7.33. The woes of a novice racer! I also need to work on adjusting to climb with the change in breathing and then recovery. I’ve got the stamina, but it just needs balancing and I guess that will come with experience and advice and support from you all. I am after all, at 8 months in, still relatively new to this running lark and very much a race novice. Most of all it was great to represent the club and I have a genuine sense of pride each time I pull on the vest; hearing the imaginary words of encouragement from fellow hoops!
Dominic Martin

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