Well , there I was thinking that maybe all my PBs were behind me. After a nice couple of weeks of solid but not over the top training, I was starting to feel like maybe I was coming into some reasonable condition. The set of 1200s the other night was certainly encouraging. I also decided to not back off too much this week. I ran 10k home from work on Thursday night and 8k easy back to work on Friday morning.
So today was the company ekiden around the palace, regarded as 4.96 km by purists, but called 5 km by most people. I was hoping to go sub 18:10, and in my wildest dreams, maybe sneak under 18:00.
I ran the first leg and wasn't sure whether other teams would also put their faster guys first, which is in fact the conventional tactic in ekidens. We got off to a fast start and after a couple hundred meters I soon settled into third place. Stayed like this for the first couple of km until the uphill from Takebashi when the 2nd place guy immediately ran out of steam. First place was a good 10 or 15 seconds further ahead (yes, Mr bloody Nakagawa!).
But somebody else was on my tail all the way up the hill. I could hear his number card flapping in the wind. He stayed there across the flat in front of the British Embassy. I worked pretty hard through this section and this guy probably benefited from some drafting. But if I'd backed off to dice with him, it would have meant giving up all hope of chasing down first place, so I pressed on. Around Hanzomon the third place guy made his move and went ahead and opened a 4 or 5 second gap. Try as I might, I could not pull him back in. Maybe I was mentally weak here and hoped he would fade rather than attack to my absolute physical limit.
Mr Nakagawa was unthreatened up front. And that's how we finished. I was spent at the end and didn't really feel that there was much more I could have done. My time was a quite unbelievable 17:47. Considering it was a 20 second course PB over last year's race I am actually extremely happy with the result. Have to be. But running such a narrow third in a competitive race took some of the edge off my euphoria, but overall made it a far more enjoyable experience.
It was hot too, about 24 degrees and a stiff little wind in our face at the top of the course. Actually, on any objective analysis, there is no getting away from the fact that this was my best 5k run ever.
Our finishing order also ended up being the placings in the individual times contest, so I brought home 7000 yen worth of shopping coupons for the wife and kids. Not something to sneeze at. Or so you'd think, but in fact my right nostril has been irritated and dripping and making me sneeze ever since the race.
Celebrated over a couple of beers at a German festival in Hibiya park. They tasted GOOD!