I'm sure we could all be forgiven for thinking that Mr Howe simply laces up his trainers, has a bit of a warm up, 321 go and then 30 odd minutes later wins the race. With that in mind it was refreshing to see a true contest on Tuesday night. I say 'see' in its loosest possible sense as I was catching the odd glimpse from the other side of the Mire.
Competition is always best (in my humble opinion) when you've got someone to compete with. Just check out the photos at any of the 10K races of our Postal teammates finding that extra gear in the closing stages when a rival comes alongside. Would those finishes happen at the same pace without the incentive of competition? I haven't asked Jordan but I'd like to think he got something different out of the race on Tuesday. A win is a win but by a 3 second margin is something else. There must have been a few extra beads of adrenaline coursing round their veins after the finish. It's only right to say a huge well done to James Tucker from City of York for pushing Jordan so close. Great running both of you.
The form guide suggests that the 6th race in Wistow could be a classic. If you're not running that night then I suggest you get there to watch, it could well be worth it. My rationale is based on the fact that the season's results suggest Tucker (anyone else thinking of Grange Hill right now?) is stronger on a flat track and Wistow is certainly that.
In the meantime, we're all very proud to have a Postal runner as winner of the series as we can now say that with 4 races out of 6 counting. Huge congratulations Jordan, the challenge now is can you win all 6? That would be something.
Aside from having the honour of having a series winner in our ranks, the other magical thing about the evening was the sheer number of Posties who were charting some fantastic times.
The men finally stepped out of the shadow of the ladies and came 4th in the team race. Really good going when you consider the quality of the opposition and Jim in 6th place in 38.31 tells its own story. Having to run well under 40 minutes to count in the team race is a measure of our improvement as a club.
Within there we had some fantastic achievements with Elliot in 35.06 and Dom in 35.49 both standing out for me. We also saw Di finishing 4th in her age category with Elliot also achieving the same finishing position in his category. To finish off the top 10's we had Billy in 9th.
The final mention of the night goes to Jess and her rather impressive new PB of 43.45. Readers may recall that in the last race report I wrote about one of the challenges of taking part in the race being the fact that you only see your part of the race and miss all the wonderful things taking place elsewhere. Completely unprompted, Ben has sent me his report on the story of this race with Jess. It appears unedited so please forgive the occasional spelling and grammatical error as I can assure you that Ben's written English is in a different league to my French.
So here's Ben's version and if anyone would like to pen a guest report after the next race just let me know.
What is it like to run as Ben? (not like him)
Behind this pompous subject, I just wanted to have a go at your previous challenge of writing the stories of my race.
Never trust a season runner telling you, "I am taking it easy tonight, because ...". It's a filthy lie going as far back as the invention of running shoes (nobody ran before that point). You could almost organize a bingo for the excuses given before the start of the race: an injury, lack of training, recovering from / staying fresh for a "real race", a bug caught at work, heavy meal. The list goes on.
So on Tuesday, I decided to take it easy. I stepped down from an unachievable PB hunt to support one of our fantastic club runners: Jess. Over the last months (if not years), she has been consistent at training, racing, having a laugh with her friends whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring. She never broke the 45 minutes mark on a 10k, and it felt like a pace I could sustain, if I was lucky. I tried not to brag too much about this commitment, and got ready to the start line.
Of course, as soon as there was room in front of us after the starting mat, everybody decided to go as fast as they could. Jon aimed to stay in front of me for the whole race (he could carry my personal 5k sign, as I am always catching him around that mark), and got in one of the YPH train with Andy, Chris and Billy. Some fastest ladies were there too, with Di and Sophie leading the way, and it almost took me one k to reach my target: Jess.
Once I got to her, it was simple: staying as consistent as possible, getting our pace in sync and chatting as much as possible to not focus on the potential discomfort. I have some hollow sentences like "don't forget that's your easy pace" or "you will catch me later", but in the end, the aim is just to feel comfortable (and slightly cocky to laugh about it). Try to say it with a French accent, and you can almost get away from anything.
The first few Ks went alright, with the main subject of conversation being the direction of the wind and where we would experience the worst of it. Those with more experience should laugh at that comment, considering that the weather is always wrong at Knavesmire, but this Tuesday, the conditions were perfect. Even Jordan concurred on it after the race, just suggesting that a slight drizzle from time to time would have been nice to stop getting a parched mouth.
Once the first lap was completed, it became possible to start counting them instead of the kilometers, joking about the possibility of Jordan lapping us 100m before the finishing line. I am not sure I would have been able to just sustain his pace for 100m and then keep going for another lap. I bet his sprint finish looked epic, with just 3 seconds separating from the second runner who stayed with him the whole race.
The second lap was much more exciting, as we managed to gain some distances on the previously mentioned YPH train. Billy, equal to himself, was maintaining his pace better than a metronome, but we had been slightly accelerating. After a chase of nearly a mile, we managed to salute him and pass by, already on the next runner.
By that time, it was clear that the sub 45 was in the pocket (with a 30-45 secondes cushion) and I knew we could drop it to a sub 44. Seing Chris on our third lap was definitely a massive assistance, as anything new at that stage was welcome, as we were on our 8th kilometer, the long straight line with the wind not really helping us. Once in the South bent for the 3rd time, everything became easier: a slight respite from the wind, the slightly downward hill (Strava says there is none, flat as a pancake), and better than anything else, no more the-straight-boring-line-of-death.
Obviously, I had to suggest that we finish strong in front of the crown, with a 200m measure with the sign. Apparently, it was not so wrongly calculated and we managed to overtake some extra runners. Stop the clock: 43.45 (or something like that). PBs have been eluding me for some time, but enabling a fellow runner to achieve it has almost the same taste to me. Don't get me wrong: Jess could have achieved it on her own, potentially faster without me. But having somebody next to you is priceless and you can lose yourself in the beauty of running fast. Stronger together.
I would not be able to finish without mentioning the YPH spectators, which were second to none. I tried to pay my contribution to the club by offering some words of encouragement to other runners, but failed to remember some names (sorry). In the end, it might be better as they might prefer to not draw too much of my loud gibberish.
If this text doesn't meet the YPH standard (you set the bar quite high, Simon), please feel free to shred my membership card, and I'll try to join DGB, wherever he could have been seen running last. Having said that, it might as well trigger some wanna writers, challenged to do better than this unworthy attempt ;-).