A good day yesterday at Sefton Park in Liverpool. As mentioned previously I was running for Otley AC in the North of England 12 stage road relay - I was running stage 7 for the B team [we've never managed two teams before so that was excellent news for the club].
My relay leg was 4.9 miles (7.9 km) and, based on current training, I expected a time of about 32:30. I know that isn't very quick I've only resumed proper training in the last couple of months and I didn't really expect to have regained my old speed as yet. When the team captain, Mick Jeffrey, reported that he had run 31:41 on a very good course [no big hills, no wind, etc] I started to think that maybe I should aim for a quicker time.
With no mile (or km) markers on the course it's always a case of running to feel in these type of events and so I set off at a pace I felt comfortable with but at the same time knowing that I could respond if pushed at the end of my run. By coincidence Huw Illingworth was beginning his run about 20 seconds or so after me - he was in the A team though - so I expected him to pass me after not too long. Sure enough he stormed past after about a mile and by the time he got to the flock of pigeons on the course he was about 30 - 40m ahead of me. As he ran through them they all scattered but to my surprise they all landed again in the same place before I arrived. This unexpected obstacle wasn't so easy to deal with and at times I almost trod on a couple of birds and had to deal with panicking pigeons flying into me and another runner just behind. Luckily that wasn't a problem on the second lap.
At the end I did manage a sprint finish with another guy from a different club and to my surprise my time was 29:09. Very happy with that. In terms of speed I was the fastest runner in the B team and quicker than two from the A team.
In fact, on checking my previous races, I haven't run so quickly since late August 2010 when I completed a 5k parkrun in 18:17. So, the speed seems to have returned.
Otley A finished a good 28th and Otley B finished 46th. Overall there 46 complete teams finished along with 11 incomplete ones. Full results are here and there are lots of photos here.
Thanks to Mick Jeffrey for organising teams and Huw Illingworth for driving.
And tomorrow there's a 50k training run.