Lovely little 3 miler this evening. First of the Hayfield series, and my first short race for quite some time.
Originally I was going to be doing the Old County Tops this weekend, but unfortunately circumstances have dictated that to not be the case. There was also an invite for the Scottish Islands race, which would have been amazing, but things didn't quite come off there either.
In preparation for next weeks Jura, I decided that a bit of short fast stuff should be good, especially to see how I go at speed, considering the stitch that keeps re-appearing.
There was a decent turnout over in Hayfield for this little Friday evening race, more than 100 runners, which I think is a record for them. Glossopdale had a fair few out as well, with a good number of them having their first taste of non-road racing as well. Well done all.
The start down the road was a kind of inbetween state, not all out sprint, but certainly not sedate. I knew I had to get near to the front as it gets very thin very quickly, and if you're behind the wrong person going up the single lane your time/placing gets hammered through someone elses pace.
I fell in behind Mark Burton (flashbacks to the last time I ran this race in 2012) and kept with him up the first incline. It had started raining just as we were lining up, which, although the temperature had dropped to a more acceptable level, had made it a bit greasy underfoot, so the first fast descent on hard track was a little interesting.
Across the bridge and over a couple of stiles, and I eased past Mark on the ascent up the cobbles. Taking a bit of a wide line (as I was a bit oblivious to the actual line enabled Mark to get back next to me, but I was first out of the field, nearly took a wrong turning (thanks to Roger Ashby and his humungous dog for pointing out the right direction).
Up through the trees and I can hear breathing right behind me, which basically continued right the way up the hill towards Lantern Pike. 2 Buxworth guys were ahead, and basically out of reach, but I could feel people bearing down on me.
Lucas from Pennine overtook just as we climbed the final steep section to the top of the Pike, which surprised me as I was fully expecting it to be Mark, but he slowed down immediately, so I overtook and led to the top, and down through the single track, but he had the speed along the flat to the descent, and maintained a small lead all the way down through the trees to the final road section where he eked out another couple of metres, to the encouraging cries of the local crowds.
Nev was also there egging me on, and my head was full of the old "ah, shall I let him go? Its only a race. No... I'll go as hard as I can, no, I'll let him go" type of thing.
I followed him up the road, and about 300m to go decided I wasn't having it at all, opened up a bit an cruised past him, hopefully imparting a sense of "well this speed is easy, maybe I should have been going this speed all along".
Down into the finish, and 3rd in 21:25. A good few minutes faster than a couple of years ago, and good enough for a top 3 finish in most of the previous years results.
Happy with that, but although my hill climbing is coming along, I'm still lacking basic speed, and speed on the hills.
Thankfully, no stitch though, which was a bonus.
Mount Famine could be interesting though....