Daniel Simmons

EACCL Blickling Hall & Thetford

Event : EACCL stage 5 & 6

The Wednesday XC league was back on Jan 29th after an extended break for Christmas and New Year with two races in quick succession at Blickling Hall and then at Thetford Rugby Club. Both races had their ups and downs (pardon the pun) and for different reasons. Not sure if it was the £5 parking charge or a general lack of enthusiasm at the end of January but it felt like then numbers were down a bit at Blickling. The course was a 10km figure of 8 loop which took in parts of the different Park run courses at ran here. After the usual race briefing we started and I went off quickly in the first group of two or three while running mainly downhill. The course kicked up pretty soon and the first big hill felt a lot easier than it actually turned out to be and I ended up in getting myself into the red zone a bit earlier on than I would have liked. Dropping off the lead I was in 2nd for a little while before I was over taken and that was when I felt my legs come back and was able to race properly for the majority of the end of the first and start of the second loops. At the start of the second loop there was another uphill section and I knew I was working hard to maintain a consistent pace but as the hill levelled off I started to feel it in my legs for the second time and felt like they were getting away from me as we entered what seemed like a long downhill section (it’s harder to run quickly downhill than you think sometimes!!). I tried to dig deep for the last section but knew I’d been dropped, although I kept fighting uphill as you never who what could happen, my legs were empty by the time I made it to the home stretch which was all downhill – although by this point it really didn’t feel like it. A quick shoulder check before the end and I couldn’t see anyone in 4th so was happy to come home in 3rd and take the points (5.96miles in 36.13), but a bit disappointed that I hadn’t performed better really. Remember thinking at the time that I need to start taking some more of my own training advice and slow down more on the easy days so I can make the most of the harder efforts to get the benefits for days like today…

However, the great thing about the Wednesday league is that with ten races in total the next race is never that far away and on Feb 4th we were back racing at Thetford Rugby Club. The course here is a true XC course (minus a water crossing – booo), and the weather was good (too good for February?) so the conditions were perfect for spikes and quick racing. After a bit of reflection on the previous weeks racing, I’d decided that I’d approach this race tactically and stick as close as possible to my rival from the previous week. I figured that he’d paced Blickling better than I had, so why worry about getting into the red zone too early when you could let someone else do it for you? Another two lap loop, and after the first 500m or so I was in 4th or 5th with my rival right next to me. We over took a chap from Yarmouth and then settled in. I’m sure he knew what I was doing, but I was feeling comfortable at the pace we went out at and also had the added bonus of a RAF Marham runner just ahead which let me focus on something within reach which was a bonus as well. About 3 quarters of the way round the first lap I could just tell the runner ahead was slightly slowing down and it wasn’t two long before we’d wheeled him in and our group of 2 became 3. There were two uphill sections and both times on the 2nd lap I took the initiative trying to attack see if I could just get a few metres on the two runners with me. Both times they came back though and I thought this might come down to a sprint finish… I remember my watch going off at 5miles and deciding to start to quicken the pace although at the time I was starting to feel the lactic build up and not sure that was the right idea!! I put it out of my mind, dug deep as my main rival from last week put in a surge and maintained my pace. As we entered the last downhill bit home I really went for it and that was the point when 3 became 2. Locked into a sprint finish on the grass alongside the rugby pitch I heard someone shout come on Dan!! so that was all the motivation I needed to block out the last bit of pain and I surged through the finish line in 3rd and crucially taking points back from last week. Felt the strongest in a race I’ve felt in a very long time to end up going round 6.24miles in 36.53, with the last mile the quickest in 5.42. Next race is Feb 19th at Stowmarket with league positions and points all to play for….

Published on 8th February 2020

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