Friday, 4 November 2011

Return to winning ways at Glarner Stadtlauf

Its taken 18 months but finally I stood on top of the podium again last saturday at the Glarner Stadtlauf in Switzerland. And it was great to be there, the feeling made all the better because I had averaged sub 3min kilometres for the twisty town centre criterium course and beaten Marco Kern, a promising young swiss runner who has run 3.45 and 8.11 this summer.

For a while now I have promised myself that I could only start to prepare for a marathon once I had recaptured 30min 10km shape, so i'm now in an intellectual battle with myself as to whether 7.865km on a difficult course is equivalent or not. Or perhaps I just have to go and run a 10k in December !

The toughest part of saturday was remembering how to win. Its not as simple as just being the fittest runner (I was there or thereabouts) or having the fastest finish (I definitely didn't) but how you use the qualities you do have in the heat of battle and how you can influence your opponents to not make the best of what they have. And after 18 months without a win and more than 2 years since a really close race I was wondering whether it was still there.

After a fast start I was leading the second group on lap 1 (out of 5) and Marco was going away from us. The Glarner course is a typcial European criterium course. A loop in and out of the town centre, taking in the main street and with plenty of twists and turns and a short sharp climb. Spectators everywhere creating a great atmosphere. One of the best things about these races are the abscence of kilometre markers and no real sense of what pace you are running at. Garmins are useless with the tight turns and buildings so you can just run in your body with complete freedom rather than being stuck in your head analysing split times and thinking about stuff too much.

By the end of the first lap the gap to Marco had stabilised and some of the fast starters were dropping off my group. From there I started to close and when I eventually caught Marco his breathing was only slightly harder than mine and he was able to comfortably stay with me into lap 3 when the fight in my own mind began.
I knew I was safe for second place and sometimes the brain says "thats good enough, take it."

One of the thin
gs that has re-invigorated my running this autumn has been racing like a kenyan (or as I did when I was young). In other words, having a go with no fear of the consequences. Its easy to say and much harder to do but as an older athlete i've had enough 2nd and 4th places (my speciality) to entertain my grandchildren for years to come. So in the middle of lap 3 I decided to up the pace on the small hill and up it again coming off the top. And it hurt, like hell, but there was a small gap by the end of it.

Coming to the end of lap 3 I could still hear Marco and the brain was saying "you can't keep this up for two more laps and he has got a good sprint finish", so I decided what the hell and pushed again to increase the gap. And guess what, the gap opened. The pain increased but my legs held together. At the bell my lungs were burning and I felt like I was being hunted, and that fear just kept me focused ahead and maintaining my lead to the finish.

Really pleased with how things turned out and looking forward to getting back on to the muddy stuff between now and the new year.

1 comment:

Alex said...

congratulations Adrian, well done.