the view from the middle of the pack

"the hopelessness of the long distance runner"

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Stoke 10K

The Stoke 10k. What a strange little race it was, certainly from a personal perspective. On one hand, the race was very well organised, slick and efficient. For a first time event it was as smooth as one could reasonably expect. On the other, the atmosphere seemed strangely subdued. This may have been have been just my own experience but it seemed a little flat. For me, too many people run in MP3 players these days and it takes away some of the camaraderie that you share with your fellow competitors before, during and after the race. Maybe this played a part but there was little buzz about Hanley Park as the runners got ready to race. Possibly it was due to the early start time of the race. I doubt it but who knows.

562 runners lined up on the start line for the inaugural event. I expected more, closer to 1000 and the organisers probably did too. The cost was quite high for a 10k. Not prohibitive but I paid nearly £18 including fees, more than I paid for the Potters Arf.

The overall standard wasn’t as high as I’d expected. My time of 44:57 was my worst ever time over the distance by nearly a minute and a half but it was still good enough to get me a 53rd placed finish which was very surprising. I think that I was still suffering from the after effects of the virus I had last month. I am well over the virus itself but haven’t had enough time to build my stamina back to what it was before the tonsillitis.

I managed the first 5k in 21 minutes, roughly what I would expect for half marathon distance and below. The difference was that whilst I could normally maintain sub 7min/mile pace for 10k fairly comfortably, in this race I was shot after 2 miles. My race stamina was way below par, due to a lack of good tempo runs of late. I had little in my legs to get me round the flat(ish) course in anything approaching the time I know that I am capable of. I should never have entered the race in the first place. I knew that I was cutting it fine in terms of building up a decent fitness base and thought that I could just run the time on mental strength alone. How wrong you can be.

I didn’t hang around at the end out of sheer embarrassment in my time and even forgot to take my tag off although the organiser will be glad to know that it has been posted since.

So, not a race to remember from a personal standpoint and not one I’ll look back on with any great pride but I hope it’s not the first and last running of the event. The course had plenty of PB potential but was still tough enough to be a challenge. I hope word of mouth helps it to grow in the future as it deserves to be a success. Spectators were thin on the ground outside of Hanley Park but you expect that in and around Hanley at 9am on a Sunday morning.

In spite of my bad day at the office, I would do it again and will recommend it to others.

My splits (highlighting my struggle in the second half) were as follows:

1 – 6:46

2 – 6:51

3 – 7:04

4 – 7:39

5 – 7:14

6 – 7:49

6.2 – 1:35 (7:07 pace)

10k – 44:57


Aching Limbs and Tonsillitis

Following that great big behemoth of a race in the Brecon Beacons, my body and in particular my legs have felt of late like they were passed on loan from Pheidippides, immediately following his arrival in Athens. Perhaps rather foolhardily I decided to train again on Wednesday 24th following Saturday’s race. A mere three days rest. Somewhat hopefully and against all prevailing experience and logic, I figured that three days would be ample recovery time. How wrong can you be? Well apparently, very is the answer.

Sensibly I took it very easy on the Wednesday and felt quite loose for the three or so miles that I jogged. Suitably inspired, I decided to go to the club night on the Thursday. After a short jog to warm up, I upped the pace and pushed hard for a couple of miles. I got to start of the hill climb on the Congleton Edge route and disaster, or maybe reality struck. My feet were suddenly cast in concrete and I felt like that 35lb bergen was back on my back. My knees groaned and it was a struggle just to make it back to the leisure centre from then on in.

To my own amazement given my usual blasé attitude to injury prevention, I decided that the only way that I would recover would be to take a week off. Following the Dave Clarke 5k on August 22nd the plan of action was that I would hang up my running shoes and take that week off to get my mojo back.

As it turned out my system was so beaten up by my experience in Wales that I didn’t make it to the 22nd. I had to take a break immediately to try and ensure that I could make the start line. My training runs had become slow and painful affairs and it was a doubt as to whether the sessions were doing anything anyway. Quality always usurps quantity and this had never been more evident.

I came back after a week off feeling suitably refreshed and with a couple of weeks left to get in shape for a good crack at sub 21 on a tough multi terrain course in Trentham.

After my enforced break the training had gone well and I was looking forward to a good race. On the day of the 5k I woke up feeling like I’d been gargling with glass. I put it down to sleeping with the window open and feeling the effects of hayfever. As the day wore on I felt gradually worse and seriously considered pulling out of the race. However, being a tight fisted sod I reasoned that as I’d spent £6 on my entry fee I would run the race and hope that I didn’t throw up or collapse before the end.

Luckily I did neither and my time was a fairly reasonable 21:09, a slight improvement on the previous year. I did feel terrible and couldn’t really get going at any point during the race. I struggled all of the way through and wanted it to be over, a strange feeling for such a short race.

Afterwards it took me ages to stop sweating (virus alert!) but the post race endorphins kicked in and I felt good on the way home. When I woke up the next morning my sore throat was even worse and I couldn’t swallow my breakfast without grimacing in agony. It turned out I’d picked up a dose of tonsillitis and another week of mind numbing inactivity was ahead of me.

Since the race I’ve run several times. The first four times were horrible. My legs were like lead and I struggled along doing 9:00 minute miles. The next few have been slightly easier but the virus seems to have killed my stamina. I did manage to open up a little yesterday, it was less Aston Martin more Austin Allegro but on the right path at least and a sub 42 at the Stoke 10k is the target.

Sadly the Congleton Half now is out of the question. Too little time now to rebuild my ‘lost’ stamina and I don’t want to run a race just for the sake of it, tempting as it may be.

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