Since completing the London Marathon I have had an incredibly busy race calendar. The Polaroid Series dominated the last couple of months with its weekly battles and last week saw my club host the Brian Goodwin 10k. Whilst I love the 10k as a distance, I was starting to feel that my performances were hitting a plateau as most weeks saw me sacrificing quality training sessions in order to get sufficient recovery for the next race. It was a welcome change therefore to see the DunRen Open Graded Meeting appear in the Club Summer Championship this week with a 1500m event on the cards.
The Harriers use a track once a week through the winter for training sessions however I had not taken part in an actual race on a track in a very long time. With no idea of what time I would be capable of running I couldn’t help but feel incredibly nervous before the start. We arrived early at the sports centre in Linwood and I spoke to one of the coaches from the club about my predicted time (I was asked to declare my expectations at the registration desk). I was advised to estimate 4:30 as a conservative debut target.
The event began and I took a seat in the stands as the races kicked off with the 100m sprint. It was great to sit on the terraces and watch the athletics unfold as I don’t often get to watch many of these events. There were some fantastic performances and it was great to be able to support my fellow Harriers in the early events. With a couple of nervy hours to go until my race I decided to get a swift espresso from the sports centre cafe to try and wake myself up a bit and it definitely did the trick. By the time of my heat I was raring to go.
One of the organisers called us over and I was told that I would be in the second heat alongside several of my club mates. Lining up on the start line was terrifying. I had decided to ditch my garmin so that I would not be tempted to chase a time and instead I determined to follow the advice of Iain and just sit on the shoulder of whoever would take the lead on. The gun fired and everyone pounced over the line at a speed which made me panic before it settled down by the first bend. I was tucked into second place and felt comfortable as we rounded the first corner. Coming out of the first lap the race was fairly frustrating; I was unsure whether to make a break for the lead or to continue sitting back in second. It was becoming clear that the guy in the lead was struggling to maintain the pace and I knew that my club mates were tucked in close behind me and would be keen to chase me down if I did not get away from them. With 600m to go I decided to make my move and I kicked away from the leader. As I heard the bell for the final lap I was too scared to look behind me to see who had kicked with me and that fear drove me round the first bend. Along the back straight I put in one last push and felt the familiar burning in my chest as my lungs started to really have to work. Still afraid to glance over my shoulder I had no option but to grit my teeth and keep hanging on for the finish.
I crossed the line in 4:25 which was a little slower than what I had anticipated but I was really pleased to win the race. I loved the experience of racing on a track and the support from the Bella crowd was phenomenal. I have a few more races lined up and am definitely keen to have another crack at the 1500m. I believe there is a meeting in a few weeks time which I will be marking in my calendar!
Photos courtesy of Iain Burke (Bellahouston Harriers)