Written by Ben Price
We’re on the start line for what seems like an eternity, bent forward, fingers on watches ready to ‘start activity’ when the starter pistol finally goes.
The pace maker – who is doing the first 3k at our desired 71 second laps – immediately hits the front and the rest of us jostle for position.
Most of us have seen the start list and geeked out on the Power of 10 so we know the pecking order and where we want to be in the pack. I settle in four behind the pace maker, tucked in behind Bristol AC’s Jack Bancroft and Ben Robinson with Allan Stewart of Chiltern also just in front.
I know these three are a little quicker than me and will hopefully drag me round for that elusive sub 15min 5k.
The race is geared towards running fast – it’s more about PBs than placing – with a large electronic timer on the finish line and several time keepers giving us our lap splits.
Our Cheltenham Harriers manager and my coach were on the track ready to bellow my splits at me as well and give advice and encouragement.
The opening lap felt fast and uncomfortable. Surely it was faster than my target pace of 71? At 400m I heard the timer shouting: ’71, 72, 73′. I was somewhere around 72. Not as fast as I thought. This is going to be hard!
Lap 2 is a 70. A second faster than planned but although it felt hard, I was beginning to settle into a rhythm.
Lap 3: a 71 and my confidence grows. I stay close to Ben in front of me. I’m in a great place. Stay relaxed, forget the pace, the pain, how long left, just follow the vest in front.
Laps 4, 5, 6, 7 pass through all at 70/71 and we hit 3k in 8.55.
Then the pace maker pulls to one side and Jack, Ben and Phil Burden of Taunton (who had moved ahead of me) make a slight surge.
This is the real make or break stage in the race for me. I have to go with them!
I dig in and stay in touch but gradually get detached. Not by much, but enough to be in the wind on my own.
My lap splits edge out to 73 and I’m only going to slow from here, apart from maybe one final last lap push.
Don’t tense up, relax the shoulders, push hard but flow if you can!
Phil started falling off the back of the front two and with three laps to go I was just focusing on getting back to him. I managed to do this and sat in for a second at his slightly slower pace.
It felt good – it always amazes me how just a second or two per lap makes such a huge difference to the level of difficulty – but I knew we weren’t moving fast enough.
My body was crying out for me to stay there – so what if I run a few seconds slower? It’ll still be a PB!
For a hundred metres or so I battled with myself and then made a move. This was an amazing opportunity to log a 14 something 5k in the record books.
1k to go, just go for it!
I moved round Phil and opened a gap. Another 200m down, 800m to go – that’s nothing!
We bash out rapid 800m in training for fun – but today was different, every part of me was screaming – my lungs were burning and my legs felt weak. Where was that goose bump adrenaline surge that I sometimes get in front of the crowd when you’re pushing hard?!
It didn’t materialise and my penultimate lap was a 74, hitting the bell at 13.50 so it was simple, a sub 70 second lap was needed.
I told myself this might be the best chance in my life to run sub 15. I told myself it would soon be over. I thought of my wife and kids! I thought of everything and anything to give me that extra gear. I absolutely flogged myself. 400m had never felt so long. I entered the home straight and emptied the tank, crossing the line in a wheezing, gurning mess.
The clock had stopped with the 1st place finisher so I was unaware of my time. My watch said 15.01, but had I started it early or stopped it late?!
I waited for the results to be announce over the tannoy, desperate to hear, ‘Ben Price, 14……’ and then it came, ‘Ben Price, 15.01’. No!
My watch was right. 1 second! I was gutted. Surely I could have found 1 second?! My coach quickly reminded me that it was still a PB and that there will be other chances.
It didn’t take long for me to come to realise that it was a great time and was soon enjoying a lovely run with the setting sun with my fellow Harriers and Will Ferguson from CLC who had run a track PB himself. We were soon talking of the next opportunity.
There’s another track 5k in a few weeks’ time and it looks like it’s going to be a great field with the Bristol and Tipton runners coming to it. It’s a Cheltenham Harriers event so on our home track, the Prince of Wales Stadium. Hopefully my wife and children can be there for that little bit of extra motivation.
If the weather’s good, I’m definitely going sub 15!
Follow Ben – a GB elite duathlete – on instagram @benpriceduathlon