Yesterday evening I competed in one race and watched Jo Pavey win the 10,000 metres in the European Championships, with one reasonable result and one career defining one.
Jo Pavey is a British distance runner who has been running for longer than I have, there are very few of those still competing at an international level. She first represented Great Britain in 1997, but last night, at a few weeks shy of 41, she reached the top step of the podium for the very first time at a major event. She has been in great form all season and was probably the favourite but I was willing her on from the sofa shouting silent encouragement as I watched on the iPad – it is something that I have noticed myself doing several times this year with athletes in a lot of different events including Sally Pearson in the 100 m hurdles, Blanka Vlašić and Ruth Beitia in the high jump, Robert Harting in the discus and Ihab Abdelrahman in the javelin.
The race was slow with 15 runners still in the leading pack with 3 laps to go when the first bit of pace was injected into the race, Pavey stayed with the leaders and attacked at the bell. She kicked, then kicked again as France’s Clemence Calvin tried in vain to stay with her winning by over a second in the end. It was a great evening for British distance running (added to tonight by a men’s 1-2 in their race with Mo Farrah and Andy Vernon.)
As for my own race, it was 2 kilometres shorter at 5 miles and my expectations were limited to a target of sub 36 minutes as this would be comparable with my 5 kilometre time of a few weeks ago. My running since then had been largely distance and fell running and no intervals to speak of. I stuck to a target pace of 7:10 miling, helped by another runner who I know has metronomic pace keeping before she accelerates a bit in the final stages. I kept the pace going until around 4 miles, lost touch with my ‘pacer’, but I managed to squeeze just enough out of my legs to scrape inside my target – the clock stopped on 35:59.
While I had raced in the dry there was a heavy shower before the race – which led to some hints of a rainbow over the site of the Battersea Power Station and some rather pleasant light on the Thames. The heavens opened for the slower runners and race walkers who were competing over the same distance, and my cool down became a slow trudge through torrential rain.