My recovery from the weekend has been rapid. The short cycle commutes since my return to work on Tuesday have been speedy and energetic and my legs have felt very strong. The knee was already fully recovered.
A work colleague told me yesterday about the Wizard 5 race. I jumped at the chance for a short sharp shock, which I haven't had for a good while. It was going to be the second 5k Sale Sizzler but I did not mind passing that one up, since I'd missed the first one and cannot do the full series. Anyway this sounded much more fun. We drove to the National Trust carpark on Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge to register and check out the route map - a small loop and a big loop with an out-and-back between them. There would be rocky rooty trails, fields, tracks, narrow enclosed paths, stiles, gates and some country lanes. There would also be some ups and downs but nothing extreme, not like a serious fell race. My Stockport Harriers vest was getting its first airing for a few months. I counted four others.
There was a big turn-out of nearly 200. I chatted with Julian Brown from Macclesfield Harriers on the start line before easing my way a little further back to a more appropriate and discreet starting position. The obligatory inaudible utterances were said and we were set off by the pea-modulated screech of the Acme Thunderer. The first mini anticlockwise loop undulated through the wooded old copper mine spoil heaps and workings. The trail was hard and dry. I wasn't used to the speed but I knew it would be doing me some good. We soon returned to the start point and rejoined the rocky initial outward path before turning right onto the much longer anticlockwise loop.
Once out into the warm evening sunshine and exposed tracks, the dust was getting kicked up.
There were plenty of stiles that provided a welcome few seconds to catch our breath.
Single person width paths between wire fences ensured no overtaking for a brief spell (a bit more recovery).
I found myself automatically in polite LDWA mode and held the hand gates open for the next runner. It would have been rude to do otherwise.
Some short sections of country lane allowed as much 'easy' speed as our wracked cardiovascular systems allowed.
The evening sunshine and lack of wind made it rather warm when a heart rate in the mid 180s suggested that a high intensity workout was underway.
I unclenched my fists and let the sweat evaporate from my relaxed hands to aid cooling.
My breathing rasped through my open mouth and my spittle had thickened. I swallowed. The moisture would do more good staying inside me than in the dust.
A runner close behind had been breathing down my neck rather noisily for some time but he hadn't overtaken. I was trying my hardest to not let it happen. Perhaps he was weakening as well.
Well into the return leg a marshal offered comforting words that we'd soon be back into the woods where it would be cooler. No it wasn't. There was no breeze in the open so certainly none in there. There was no cooling moisture or evaporation to reduce enthalpy. It was just the same.
This was a short race so I could afford not to walk up the final climb with the foot steps trodden into the hillside. My tongue was hanging out and my lungs burning as I gasped for air, but the run had to be sustained. The breathing down my neck had receded but I could not ease off. Sprints to the line are common but they are never from me. I could still get caught.
The final climb delivered us to the homeward stretch with its left turn and gentle downhill to the finish. Be careful, don't trip over the rocks in your weakened state.
Around the right hand bend and there's the timekeeper. Across the line. No-one close behind. I'd pulled away!
0:38:36, 7.77mph, 7:43/mi pace, 80th place. By my standards, not bad. Well chuffed.
Average heart rate 179bpm, max heart rate 187bpm - for a 47yo? Yes, it was a good workout alright. I should do it more often.