The national track championships take place this weekend August 8th / 9th in Santry,  Despite there only being one runner from the club taking part there was plenty of supporters from the club. Many thanks to everyone for coming out. 

I was running in the 1500M heat 1. I had known from previous years that nationals are a big step up from the Graded series.  You are up against the best runners in the  country, many of whom are at least 5 years younger than you and allot faster. Despite being up against it, racing in the nationals is a fantastic experience.

As with championships racing the race you have to register well in advance and then check-in at least an hour before.  In Santry this all happens in the indoor warmup area. Once you collect your number and check-in you are free to watch the other races until 40 minutes before your scheduled start time.  For those last few minutes you’re in the call room. The tension is palpable, all the top guys know each other and it’s easy to get intimidated. Alberto Salazar once said “I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards” and it’s true. 

When the race is ready for the off we were lead out to the track. I was in heat 1 of 2. Thee first 5 qualify automatically and the the 5 fast runners up. It’s amazing how different everything looks from inside the fence that surrounds the eight lanes, it inevitably gives you goose bumps, a great experience.

The 1500M starts over on the back straight. After 5 minutes of technical issues and a bit more posturing we were ready for the off. In any middle distance race it’s important to know where you want to be at every stage of the race. I had 64 second laps in my race plan today, That means going through with 3 laps to go in 48 seconds, today it was 51. A combination of slow championship racing and a strong wind scuppered those best laid plans.  I always used to struggle at the 1500m never getting  the times I wanted.

This year I’ve gone from 4:14 down to 4:05. I ran 4:05 on a sunny calm evening in Santry so it was always going to be tough to match that with today’s conditions. The won thing I did learn this year is that you have to push from the start. In hindsight I should have moved a bit further up into the main group on lap 2. The pace was too slowing to a jog, going through 800M in 2:16.  In a graded I wouldn’t have thought twice but the way the race was unfolding it didn’t make sense.

Down the back straight the pace started to pick up and with the big guns able to finish those last 700M in close to 90 seconds it was always going to be a struggle. As the race started to wind up with 400M to go I thought I was still in contention to sneak one of those runners up spots but  the ever increasing pace was a too much. An attempt to go around a few lads with 350M to go  fell flat when I ended up in lane 3, not making any ground.

By the time there was 200m to go  I was starting to really struggle. It is true that speed kills. In running, it kills anyone who does not have enough of it.I ended up with a slower than hoped for 4:10:05, better than what I started the year with but not quite what I had hoped for before the race. My only frustration at the end was knowing that if I had just gone out and tried to run my own race in 65 second laps, I’d be in tomorrow’s final. There’s always next year. I probably freaked myself out a little by seeing that I was 3 years older than anyone else and 10 years older than many. Despite that that this has been my best year yet. So it’s the end of a great track season. 3 PB’s but still chasing that sub 9 3K and sub 2 800M.

Season often end in one of four ways: complete burnout, injury,  a mediocre goal race, or a huge PB! Regardless it is time provide to take a bit of time and do some active recovery. It can be tempting to put the nose to the grind and ignore that the body needs some rest. After a long run tomorrow I’ll be hitting the gym for the next 10 days and taking a few days holiday. The beauty of active rest is that when it comes time to starting a new base building phase, I wont have to start from where I started last Spring. It also allows some time to reflect on what to do better next time out.

An enjoyable day with the highlight being a fantastic finish by Mark Christie in the 10K.

I’d encourage everyone to go out and watch Karol in the 5K tomorrow at 12PM.