Neptune Festival 8k
Don’t think I’ve ever raced in so much rain; it was absolutely torrential from the time we arrived at the start area to the time the race was over! Not that I’m complaining of course – I love running in the rain and to be honest it kind of reminded me of racing in my younger days in Wales. Great fun!
The warm up was pretty uneventful; about a mile and a half on the boardwalk just to loosen things up a bit. I chatted with a couple of friends as we ran and before I knew it I had about 10 minutes to get changed into my Running Etc. singlet and Brooks ST3 Racers shoes…
Got to the start line just as the one and only wheelchair racer was being let loose 5 minutes before the regular gun time. I wondered how she’d cope pushing through the massive amount of water on the course, but watching her blaze into the distance I realized she’d do fine.
My goal was just to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. I found myself in about 10th position at the half mile, although to be honest it was really difficult to see very far ahead with the amount of rain falling. I followed the double yellow line in the middle of the road which seemed to be the area with the least surface water; it was also the part of the road with the least camber to worry about. Yesterday, after my easy treadmill run, I though I felt the beginnings of an IT band problem and was very wary of doing any further damage to the area. Luckily, an early 15 minute session on the foam roller seemed to have done the trick.
So, I covered the first mile in 5:54 which felt much slower than I was actually running. I was expecting a 5:45 split based on perceived effort, but I guess running through a shallow stream on the road offers more resistance than dry pavement.
Mile two was a 5:52 and by now I was up to 5th place and right on the back of 4th place runner Pete Gibson. Pete is one of the guys in the running club that I admire the most; he’s 52 years old, quiet, unassuming and has stayed at the top of his game by sheer hard work and determination. He oozes talent, races like a pro and is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. I stayed with Pete for maybe a half mile before he started to pull away. I really tried hard to stay with him, but unlike the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon where I scored a rare victory over Pete, today I couldn’t match his pace.
I missed the third mile marker (probably focused too much on catching Pete), but continued to run strong on Atlantic Avenue with the slight tailwind out of the south. The combined mile three/four split was 11:43 (5:51.5 average) so I’d maintained my pace despite the feeling that I’d slowed down a little.
Finally we reached the turnaround cone, which meant less than a mile to go to the finish. Running south on Atlantic I got to see all the people chasing me and realized that barring something bizarre happening, I was safe in 5th place. It was great to see my wife Ally still running (despite a foot injury that meant she should have been resting on the sidelines) and this gave me a boost to kick it in to the finish.
I think I closed a little on Pete in the final quarter mile, but it was too little too late, and he’d run another perfectly timed race. I crossed the line in 29:15, 16 seconds outside a PR, but really happy with a very solid performance and even paced race (my pace for the last .97 of a mile was also 5:50 per mile). 5th place overall was good to earn me a very nice plaque (pictured above) and left me feeling good about my current level of fitness.
I jogged back about seven tenths of a mile to run the last part of the race with Ally; her foot was hurting but she was keen to finish the race, which she did in 43:09.
Very enjoyable event! Great to catch up with so many people after the race and apologies if I didn’t get talking to anyone…..
Splits: 5:54 5:52 5:52 5:51 5:50
Photo: courtesy TriDuo Sports Photography