the view from the middle of the pack

"the hopelessness of the long distance runner"

Archive for the category “Race Reports”

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

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Fan Dance Race – Pen y Fan

It’s been a while since my last post. There’s no real reason for this other than the fact that I couldn’t really be bothered to write. I’d settled into a nice routine of training and didn’t feel that I had much to say.

Since my last post the Potters Arf came and went. It was a great race as usual, a hot beautiful day and I had a half decent run, completing the course in 1:38:50. This beat my previous course PB by almost 1 minute. Alongside this, endless training runs seemed to blend into one but it was brilliant to be able to run in scorching heat instead of wind and rain.

The reason for my lack of interest in the present was that I had entered a race that was completely different to any that I’d done before and I was really excited by it. Inspired by a former work colleague who completed the event in the January snow, I had entered the Fan Dance Race summer series which would take place at Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons. The event was run by an ex SAS soldier, Ken Jones and would follow the same route used for SAS selection. Candidates for special forces selection have to complete the course in under 4 hours 5 minutes carrying 55lbs plus weapon, food and water. We would have to carry 20lbs less in our bergen, though still a hefty 35lbs plus food and 4 litres of water. The previous weekend two SAS candidates had sadly died in the area due to the physical demands in the immense heat. There was a worry that the event wouldn’t take place but the decision was taken to bring the start forward from 1000hrs to 0800hrs and for entrants to carry 4 litres of water instead of 3  plus we had to leave an additional 2 litres at the turnaround RV point at half way. As it turned out there was plenty of cloud cover and although it was in the mid 20’s the heat was nowhere near as suffocating as the previous weekend.

I arrived at the start lined outside the Storey Arms Centre at 0630hrs to weigh in and register having camped overnight in Brecon. There were already plenty of people milling around getting kit ready and taking in water ahead of the 0800 start. I was slightly worried that my bergen would be short on weight but as it happened it was bang on 35lbs so I was good to go. I added my water and food after weigh in (taking the weight to over 40lbs) and slapped on suncream and my hat and waited at the old red phone box with the other intrepid competitors waiting for the off.

Start Line - Red Phone Box, Storey Arms.

Start Line (obviously not the same day!) – Old Red Phone Box, Storey Arms.

The course is 24km of rough terrain. The footing all the way round is very uneven and great care has to be taken with foot placement or you risk turning an ankle quite easily, especially with bearing so much extra weight.

The route leaves the Storey Arms centre and summits Pen-y-Fan via Corn Du, respectively the first and second highest peaks in South Wales. The first 3 miles is almost exclusively climbing up to the summit of Pen-y-Fan.

Summit of the Fan looking out over the course ahead

Summit of the Fan looking out over the course ahead. Turnaround point was at the uppermost reservoir in the distance.

You then descend down the Fan for several miles onto the RV turnaround point in Tal Fechan Forest before retracing the route back up the Fan via the madness of Jacobs Ladder before descending back down to the Storey Arms. The reality of what goes down must go back up 2,000 feet again hit when I saw the ascent back to the top of Pen-y-Fan, contouring Cribyn. Positivity was the key but the scale of the challenge was apparent and all idea’s of sub 4 were destroyed by the quad burning, lung busting ascent. By far the hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. Ahead of the race I had expected to enjoy the downhill but the reality was that it was so painful on the descent. My toes were getting a pounding in my boots and I had so many hotspots all over my feet in the last couple of miles that it took all my will to keep putting one foot in front of the other to finish. I made great time in the first 8 or 9 miles and was powering to a sub 4 hour finish, ahead of expectation.

The Ascent of Pen-y-Fan as seen from Cribyn

The Ascent of Pen-y-Fan as seen from Cribyn

When I finally got to the top I had a quick look around at the stream of people stretching back out across the course for miles and I couldn’t help but feel pleased to be among those at the head of the load bearing pack. The 2 mile descent to the finish was broken up by a welcome ascent of a couple of hundred metres, easing the pain on my feet. I never expected to be hoping for more uphill to take the pressure off!

I ‘staggered’ back down to the Storey Arms to be greeted by Ken Jones with my finishers Fan Dance Patch for a quick photo opp. To be honest I just wanted the hog roast that I knew was waiting for me at the end, the smell was gorgeous!

I finished in 4 hours and 9 minutes, just 4 minutes outside the special forces cut off time, so not a bad effort in the end. I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed not to break 4 hours and bar a wrong turn 3 miles in due to cloud cover and following the leaders I may have just done it but the effort of the day and what was by far the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken saw that the disappointed didn’t last long.

As soon as I finished I said ‘NEVER AGAIN’ but that lasted all of an hour. After I staggered back to the car for the 3 hour drive home after a very welcome shower I was already hatching plans to take part in the winter edition in January.

Bring on the madness!!!

Mow Cop Killer Mile

For several years I’ve harbored a masochistic desire to run up a mile long ‘hill’ in Mow Cop. Why? Who knows, I think I just like the idea of ridiculously painful races (I’ve got the Fan Dance to come later in the year but that’s another story). The reality of said races is completely different to the idealised vision in my head where I am bounding effortlessly towards the finish line.

In the past I’ve always been away on holiday and unable to take part so the fact that I was at home this year and able to enter was perfect. One run would have been quite enough but I decided that, to make up for all those missed entries, I would enter two races on the night. I decided to run the club runners race at 6:50pm and then the 2nd adult race at 7:30pm. This would give me enough time to stagger to finish at the top and then back down to the start with a few minutes left to recover my thoughts (and breath!)

I’d run the course before when training but it’s one thing jogging it on your own and another thing altogether ‘racing’ up it. The standard in the club race was frightening and I seriously worried about coming last (as it turned out I was bang in the middle of the pack!). It was a great experience to line up alongside one of Britain’s top athletes in Steve Vernon. It was awe-inspiring to see him make short shrift of those killer hills and finish in 6:40, although he was gutted with his performance and said he would have a proper go next year!! To be fair, his best time is 6:18 so he was slacking (ha ha).

The race was everything I anticipated. A nausea inducing, chest tightening beast. There just isn’t enough room in your lungs to run this thing at anywhere near your usual racing pace. Just making it up the hill is a war of attrition, with a constant voice in your head telling you to ‘WALK’. At the start I was drawn in by the racing snakes and went off far too quickly. No warm up can prepare you to run a one mile race with absolutely zero flat or downhill in it and I was puffing like an asthmatic donkey carrying fat kids along Blackpool beach within 200 yards. My legs were jelly and I had nothing left in the tank at the 3/4 mile point coming up to the dreaded 1 in 4 incline. I somehow made it over the brow of the hill only to be faced with another stretch of climb! At the top it was a sharp left turn onto the only flattish part of the race to finish at the foot of Mow Cop Castle, exhausted and on the verge of passing out in 9:58.

I’ve never wanted to hot foot it back to my car and make a quick getaway so much in my life but I found some resolve and jogged, gingerly back down to the start to do it all over again.

Second time around I have to admit it was much easier. The pacing was easier to gauge after the experience of the first and I got to the top, slightly more slowly but much more comfortably in 10:22.

I picked up two very nice certificates for my two boys for my efforts and have to say that it was a fantastic experience and despite saying never again at the end of the first raced, I can’t wait to do it again. A Killer Mile it most definitely was!

Pain!

Pain!

Results

Club Runners Race – 9:58 (23rd of 54 runners)

Adult Race 2 – 10:22 (19th of  140 runners)

 

 

Newcastle 10k Road Race

I’m still trying to decide if I like 10k races or not. I must reconcile the fact that I’m not the quickest thing on two legs with the fact that I love racing and want to get quicker. On the face of it, 10k should be ideal. I love the Half Marathon and this distance, especially in a race, is ideal speed training to improve my times over 13.1 miles.

Unusually for me, I wasn’t particularly up for this race. There were no pre-race jitters and it was simply a case of getting it over and done with…….not a good way to head into a tough race and certainly no way to a PB.

The weather was blustery but at least the sun was shining (at least for the first half) and I had not looked at the course profile so wasn’t aware of the steep climb for the first couple of miles. Had I have known, I may have stayed at home and watched the F1!

1k in, middle of the pack!

1k in, middle of the pack!

The first two miles confirmed (as if it was ever in doubt) that a positive frame of mind is needed in a race. I really struggled in the first two miles and at one point wanted to stop and walk, something I’ve not experienced for a long, long time. At the top of the climb I did manage to pull myself together and get some semblance of a rhythm together.

Hard going!!

Hard going!!

The last few miles were a case of, head down and get it over and done with, then chalk this one up to experience. Steve Jones was my target throughout the race. I could see him just ahead the whole way round but after he kicked on at the 2 mile point I just couldn’t close the gap he opened up. I tried a couple of times but the elastic had well and truly broken. To make matters worse I found out afterwards that he had run 13 miles the day before!  To be fair he seemed fresh as a daisy and ran really well so hats off to him.

Actually my pace wasn’t all that bad; not great but it was the physical feeling that was worst. I finished in 43:45 and to be honest was very glad that it was over.

The race itself was great, well organised and for a local 10k race, well supported too. The route was undulating and quite scenic in parts. After the halfway point the bulk of the running is well earned downhill racing. You can just relax and let gravity do the work (as long as the wind isn’t blowing!). I would definitely do it again, only this time with my proper running head on.

Finishing well.

Finishing well….now where’s my car!

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 43:45.6 6.21 7:03
1 6:46.4 1.00 6:46
2 7:23.4 1.00 7:23
3 7:39.9 1.00 7:40
4 6:59.5 1.00 6:59
5 6:31.8 1.00 6:32
6 7:01.4 1.00 7:01
7 1:23.2 0.21 6:37

Stafford Half Marathon

Sometimes when you don’t feel particularly ‘up for it’ you can amaze yourself with a best ever effort. Fortunately that’s what happened on Sunday at the Stafford Half, resulting in a near 3 minute personal best over the distance of 1:33:08. Happy days 🙂

Staffs 1

It’s happened to me before when I ran in the ‘Sting in the Tail’ Congleton Half last year. That day I felt tired after running the Macclesfield Half the previous week plus it was freezing cold and  yet I surprised myself with a 1:36:00 PB. In the days leading up to the Stafford race I’d been suffering with sinus trouble and was worried that I might not even get to race. As it was I woke up on Sunday feeling fine and suitably recovered and ready to go.

As usual I had a PB in mind but I was concerned that I hadn’t pushed myself enough in the preceding week or so to beat my PB over the distance. Having long since done away, perhaps foolishly, with the predetermined training plans I was reliant on a regimen roughly made up of a long run, a short recovery run, one speed-work session and a couple of ‘floater’ sessions per week usually consisting of one easy paced and one steady paced 5 to 6 mile run.

I was joined in the race by my brother (he just missed out on his sub 2hr target which was a great effort considering he was severely dehydrated in the last quarter of the race due to an ill advised mixed grill the night before) and it made a pleasant change to have company on the way to the race. I’m not bothered about company during the race though, I’m more concerned with not puking over my trainers or hyperventilating in my quest to push myself at that point!

The race itself……….The organisation was a pleasure. Loads of free parking in Stafford town centre only a couple of hundred metres walk to the start line. Plenty of portaloos for the inevitable pre-race jitters and a square in the centre of town for the runners to congregate with various things go on such as free massages and free horse racing tickets….all good.

I knew that there were plenty of familiar faces running, old friends, acquaintances and running club members but despite having a nosey around I didn’t see a soul I recognised before the start. Plenty at the finish though so they must have been hiding away in the coffee shops near the start.

The course itself had been advertised as fast and while it was certainly that, it didn’t come without its challenges. There were a couple of challenging climbs in the first half of the race which would have sapped under prepared legs. Thankfully I managed to latch on to a couple of guys who probably ran sub 1:30 at this point (it seemed to disconcert them a little which was funny given that I didn’t have the legs to go past them!) and they pulled me through with no adverse drop in pace.

The support was great and to be honest I enjoyed the race that much it sort of passed me by in a blur and before I knew it I was back in Stafford town centre for the finish. That said, I’m not sure I could have run another mile at the pace I was at so the finish line as it came was a welcome sight.

All things being well I would love to do the race again and think that a sub 1:30 is definitely possible on this course with some serious application in training. The Potters Arf will probably be my next race over the distance and that’s a different beast altogether. 1:36 will be the target there due to the ‘mountains’ on the course!

Almost there...12 mile point.

Almost there…12 mile point.

Splits below and for once I am actually almost pleased following a race. In the car on the way home I couldn’t help but think I could have gone 1:32 if I’d pushed slightly harder. The problem is that if I had I would have thought I should have gone quicker still, so you have to draw a line somewhere.

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:33:09.1 13.09 7:07
1 6:42.3 1.00 6:42
2 6:58.4 1.00 6:58
3 7:14.1 1.00 7:14
4 7:02.4 1.00 7:02
5 6:58.9 1.00 6:59
6 7:15.1 1.00 7:15
7 7:18.0 1.00 7:18
8 6:56.1 1.00 6:56
9 7:15.1 1.00 7:15
10 7:09.2 1.00 7:09
11 7:14.6 1.00 7:15
12 7:12.8 1.00 7:13
13 7:15.5 1.00 7:16
14 :36.3 0.09 6:41

Knype Pool Charity Race

Club affiliations aside, I do genuinely love this race. This was the second time that I’d run and the previous time, last year, I had a virus so couldn’t give my best. I coughed and spluttered my way, tiredly round in 40:36. This year I was in fine fettle and wanted to push under 37:00, which is a decent time for a tough course.

The main reason that I love the race isn’t the fine scenery or the great family atmosphere although both are big draws, it’s the fact that I get to complete the fun run with my eldest son Thomas who is now 8. He ran the course last year, his first real race at the age of 7 and completed it in 9:40. This year he was determined to go faster and beat his Dad again. Unfortunately for Thomas he seems to have inherited his Dad’s inability to set an even pace and he went off like a rocket for the first 200m. The pace slowed a little around the rocky, undulating course but he still managed to power his little legs round in a wonderful 9:04 for a PB 🙂 Good lad and I can’t wait until he is annihilating me on a regular basis!

Mo who??

Mo who??

The race itself was near full capacity this year with 181 hardy souls lined up to a rousing welcome from the Biddulph town crier before he handed over to the Mayor of Biddulph to get the runners under starters orders.

After achieving a great time over 5 miles last time out over a flat course in Alsager, I was determined to try to gauge a better pace for a tough undulating course. Pretty much as soon as you set off you are greeted by a rather large and imposing hill to tackle before motoring across some flatter paths before hitting the ‘off road’ sections. Mercifully, the lack of rain in the preceding weeks had left the course, despite the odd muddy patch, as dry as you could reasonably expect at this time of year.

Taking it easy early on!

Taking it easy early on!

After heading off slightly quickly but much more reserved than usual I settled into a steady comfortable pace. There wasn’t much chance to maintain an even pace throughout due to the nature of the course but the energy sapping hills, steps and one pot-holed open field would ensure that most runners held a little back for the second half of the race to chase a good time.

I felt good throughout the race and having conquered my arch nemesis Monsieur le biscuit tin in the 3 weeks leading up to the race I felt much better than in the Alsager 5 and was rewarded with a 2nd placed club finish in a time of 36:10. Aside from a misjudgment down to looking at the GPS and thinking that there was another half a mile left I probably could have pushed Nigel Lindop harder than I did. I was holding back to push on over the last half mile and when I realised that I had misjudged, I put my foot down in the home straight. I also forgot to stop my GPS watch at the end so my race data was rendered useless!

For once, I was relatively pleased with my efforts and felt as good as I’ve felt since the Congleton Half back in October. Onward now to the Stafford Half on 17th March with my bro’ and hoping for a better race than Conwy at what is now my favourite distance.

Sprinting down the home straight to a nice bit of soup and roll.

Sprinting down the home straight to a nice bit of soup and roll.

Knype Pool 2013 finish time – 36.10 PB for the course!

Alsager 5m Road Race

The first race of the year and if I’m honest, I was quite apprehensive about this one. Not because the course was going to be difficult because it wasn’t, it was pancake flat. The reason was that due to circumstances outside my control, training properly had been nigh on impossible of late.

The Christmas period hadn’t been the most productive one anyway, mainly due to a mix of the snow and seasonal illness. The snow, although fantastic to run on and very picturesque, was not the best surface for speedwork so that was left out of my training schedule altogether in favour of just doing what was possible, which in this case was just to get out on the road.

I have been overindulging on the food front recently, mainly due to the incessant boredom of being in the house for the majority of the day and was half a stone heavier than Conwy. Not a huge amount but it was certainly noticeable to me and would no doubt slow me down as extra weight always does.

It’s a perpetual battle to keep it off but if I’m to start putting some decent times together I will need to steer clear of my arch nemesis, Monsieur le biscuit tin.

The race itself was an absolute pleasure. Loads of parking (a pet hate of mine is inadequate parking on race day. An unnecessary hassle) and easy navigate to the start via Race HQ.

The start was a little congested but chip timing rendered that a moot point and within 100 metres or so you could find plenty of space to get moving. The weather was a little wet but the winds of the previous few days had subsided to provide to give the runners good conditions for a fast pace. As always my pace management was poor and I started far too quickly with the first half mile pretty much at VO2 Max and from there you can only get slower. I had to settle into a slower pace and watch Steve, Nigel and Sean disappear a couple of hundred metres into the distance.

The scenery wasn’t much to shout about but to be fair, the flat course was what it was all about. The standard at the front of the pack was staggering with the winner coming home in 23.57 (4:47 pace!!) and a sub 30 race not even making the top 100! Overall it was an enjoyable first race of the year and one I would definitely do again, even though it was a touch on the expensive side ( a nice technical tee made up for the cost). One for the racing snakes rather than the mountain goats and there will doubtless be more challenging races this year but thoroughly enjoyable all the same.

Hurry up before the burger van closes!!

Hurry up before the burger van closes!!

From a club perspective, Biddulph was the best represented club in the race with 26 runners. A fantastic achievement and indicative of the strides(no pun intended) that the club has made in attracting new members. The standard within the club has also risen and if you’d have told me before the race that I would run 34:15 and still only be 4th BRC member to finish, a full minute behind Nigel, Steve and Sean then I wouldn’t have believed it. Hats off to those guys for a great run and massive improvement in the last few months since I’ve struggled to attend club nights, particularly from Nigel and Sean. There’s some serious competition in the races now and if I’m going to pull that minute back, I’ll need to train hard and cut that weight. Game on!!

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 34:15.5 5.02 6:49
1 6:27.0 1.00 6:27
2 6:46.5 1.00 6:46
3 7:01.7 1.00 7:02
4 6:51.7 1.00 6:52
5 6:59.7 1.00 7:00
6 :08.9 0.02 6:10

Conwy Half Marathon

Voted one of the top 5 most scenic half marathons in the UK by Runners World and with a start and finish in the shadows of the majestic Conwy Castle it was certainly one I was looking forward to.

I had decided to enter the race at the last-minute after a club training run a couple of weeks ago. After 2 half marathons in a week followed by a 10k and several 5k races, another half marathon race was the last thing I had planned on doing but as usual my competitive streak got the better of me and reason and common sense went out of the window!

Coming into the race I wasn’t exactly in peak condition.  Minor niggles were proving an irritant and I hadn’t trained for the distance because of the late entry. Add that to the fact that my overeating was starting to catch up with me and it wasn’t exactly a recipe for a PB but regardless that was the target and sub 1.36 was where I wanted to be. Psychologically I felt strong, if not physically and I hoped that would be enough to pull me through.

I decided to make a weekend of it in Llandudno and was joined by my eldest boy Thomas, Mum and Dad while my poor, exhausted wife had to stay home and look after my youngest son Aaron (Llandudno isn’t ready for him yet!!)

So to the race….

A dry mouth caused by insufficient water intake due to problems with parking and a rush to the start (luckily Dawn and Steve came to my aid with a much-needed slug of water) left me a little worried about dehydration on the start line.

A congested start area on the Quayside meant that a little jostling needed to be done over the first half mile to find some space. Chip timing was on offer so there was no issue there but (minor running etiquette gripe alert!!) I do wish that runners who know they are going to run a slower pace would line up further back to avoid the dancing round runners that invariably has to be done at the start. Don’t mean to offend anyone but common sense should prevail and I certainly wouldn’t start with the sub 5 and 6 min mile guys at the front and impede them as they set on their way. Pacing flags at the start similar to the ones used in the London marathon might help.

The field started to string out as we headed alongside Conwy River towards Deganwy Beach and the West Shore of Llandudno. You could taste the salty air and after an ill-advised cooked breakfast with salty bacon that wasn’t particularly welcome.

The plan (if you could call it that) was to push hard over the first 5 miles to try to put some distance between me, Steve and Kev, who I knew would both be the main competition for the first finishing Biddulph runner. I’m quite strong on the climbs so knew if I had a decent lead at this point then I would hopefully be able to push on up the Orme and hang on in the second half of the race to come in first from the BRC runners.

The first 5 miles from a pacing perspective were too fast and the plan didn’t work because Steve was right on my shoulder and Kev was only a hundred metres back when we got to the Orme. A high 5 from my boy Thomas gave me a much-needed energy boost before the steady climb of 2 miles to the summit which was actually my favourite part of the race. I knew I would be strong and managed to put a little more distance between the guys and myself. At the summit I wasn’t looking forward to the long run down, the stress on your quads shouldn’t be underestimated and I could never shake off the fact that I knew Steve and Kev weren’t too far behind me and I was tiring badly, totally unlike the Congleton Half where I felt stronger as the race went on.

Steve passed me on the run down at about the 8 mile point and he steadily edged away over the last 5 miles. My quads were shot on the way down towards West Shore and I knew the run back in to Conwy was going to be hard. I fully expected Kev to pass me at any point from 10 miles onwards and he duly obliged at 11 miles and I just couldn’t respond and he looked strong on the way in. The last mile is usually where I like to push hard but I had nothing left in the tank and towards the end I was looking over my shoulder for Nigel. It felt like I was running in treacle for that last few miles and I was just glad to get it over and done with in 1.38.24, still my second best half marathon time but I know I should have been nearer 1.35 if I had run a smarter race.

No more races for me now in 2012 apart from the Hanley Park run but I will be working on my pacing. At the moment I lack the confidence to go out steady and maintain an even pace throughout and I fear no further improvements will be made until I get this sorted. Sheer pig-headed will can only get you so far and if I want to run sub 1.35 over the distance, work needs to be done.

A big well done too to the other Biddulph Club Runners, a brilliant turnout and the level of competition is great at all levels. That can only help us all become better runners which at the end of the day is why we all do it. That’s mirrored with PB’s for Dawn and Nigel and excellent first runs over the distance for Karen and Janet plus a brilliant 2nd placed age group finish for Pat.

PS – Steve and Kev I will get you next time 😉

Splits below which highlight my pacing problems.

Split Time Distance Elevation Gain Elevation Loss Avg Pace Calories
Summary 1:38:24.3 13.08 683 683 7:31 2,017
1 6:38.8 1.00 7 0 6:39 152
2 6:53.1 1.00 7 0 6:53 153
3 7:05.6 1.00 0 15 7:06 154
4 7:03.6 1.00 15 0 7:04 152
5 7:17.4 1.00 69 31 7:17 156
6 7:53.5 1.00 179 123 7:53 154
7 8:23.9 1.00 230 49 8:24 157
8 8:04.6 1.00 143 49 8:05 153
9 6:42.3 1.00 0 319 6:42 153
10 7:35.9 1.00 13 67 7:36 156
11 7:56.6 1.00 0 9 7:57 155
12 7:51.5 1.00 20 0 7:52 156
13 8:21.6 1.00 0 21 8:22 154
14 :36.0 0.08 0 0 7:33 12

PB’s and mud!!

For various reasons it’s been a little while since my last post. Thankfully, my lack of activity at the keyboard hasn’t been mirrored in the real world and I’ve run two races and one PB since the Macclesfield half almost a month ago.
First up was the Congleton half a mere seven days after the Macclesfield race on 30th September. It was always my aim to try and run a PB at the Congleton race, even with it’s ‘sting in the tail’ which in reality, despite some apprehension amongst runners, was actually not that bad. The course was a little less undulating than Macc so I expected to go a little quicker than the 1.39.09 PB I had set the week before and was aiming for around 1.38.00. A minor cold had proved an annoyance all week and to be honest on the day of the race I didn’t feel particularly confident and was doubting the wisdom of doing back to back half marathons. Some extra time in bed would have been preferable than running 13.1 miles on a cold, but sunny October morning.

Race numbers had to be collected on the day but the organisation was faultless and despite arriving only 15 minutes before the gun, no problems were encountered during registration. The start at Congleton high school was a little congested but once though the initial 100 metres the road opened up nicely and there was plenty of space to move into. The actual race was a bit of a blur and the only things I really remember are being surprised at my pace when I looked at my watch at the top of the hill on mile 2; having a chat with a fellow runner between miles 5 and 6 about the perils of back to back marathons and realising that I was well within PB pace when I got to the top of the ‘sting in the tail’ hill. I was able to ease off in the last mile as I had comfortably achieved my PB and came home in 1.36.00. Amazingly, I never felt very strong during the entire race and the PB wasn’t even on my mind until about mile 7 and I was certain I would do it at mile 10. I certainly felt stronger in the Macc race so was very happy with my time (although couldn’t help but wish I had gone sub 1.36!! Typical runners mentality, never quite good enough). Sub 1.30 is my aim for next year, so some big improvements are needed in terms of pace management and speed endurance.

Feel the pain!!!!!

The splits for the race are below: –

Split Time Distance Avg Pace
Summary 1:36:00.5 13.04 7:22
1 6:49.5 1.00 6:50
2 7:22.1 1.00 7:22
3 6:59.7 1.00 7:00
4 7:18.5 1.00 7:19
5 7:17.5 1.00 7:18
6 7:14.5 1.00 7:15
7 7:12.7 1.00 7:13
8 7:20.6 1.00 7:21
9 7:26.8 1.00 7:27
10 7:33.1 1.00 7:33
11 7:38.8 1.00 7:39
12 7:36.0 1.00 7:36
13 7:55.4 1.00 7:55
14 :15.3 0.04 6:02

Last weekend was the Sandbach 10k. Now 10k is my least favourite distance and in all honesty I only ran because so many Biddulph RC runners had entered. My aim for the day wasn’t a PB for once but to be first home from the Biddulph runners and beat Steve J for the first time. I felt lethargic on race day and from the moment I arrived at the race to find no car parking I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the day. I love racing and enjoy the experience but the organisation has to be smooth and adequate car parking is a must. A minor gripe maybe, but most of the parking in the surrounding area was residents only so I ended up having to park a mile away from the start and only arrived for registration with a few minutes to spare. Not ideal preparation for a hard run.

The start was a bit of a jaunt down rain sodden, muddy tracks and over the railway bridge which turned out to be pre-cursor for the start of the race where a muddy ploughed cow field would provide the first and last 1km of the race. My tactics (or lack of depending how you look at it) was just to go hell for leather through the field and try and get a lead on Steve and Kev ready for when we hit the road. I must admit I didn’t enjoy the race at all and though my pace for the race was good (average 7.01 per mile) I felt it was more of a struggle than either marathon and to be honest was probably a race too many in a short period of time. I didn’t look back once during the race as I knew if I did and saw Steve or Kev close behind my legs may have gone, so it was head down and plough on. I did manage to achieve my aim of coming home first from the Biddulph RC runners, despite a late challenge from Kev Shuff , which proved to me that progress was being made. Onwards and upwards to next week’s 5km park run. A bit of fun rather than a serious race but I’m attempting to break 21 minutes for the first time.

Macclesfield Half Marathon

Sunday September 30th 10am start….Macclesfield. Half Marathon PB attempt.

After a week of mammoth eating sessions (not a literal mammoth though, far too hairy and extinct) I woke up at 7.20am surprisingly bright and not feeling like Elvis after a deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwich fest. I was a little nervous in anticipation of my first half marathon since the disaster that was this year’s Potters Arf, keen to prove to myself that I could still post a half decent time.

For the Potters race I set off far too quickly, pushing over the first the first 5 miles after a long injury lay off and only a few weeks back running. I paid for it later in the race by staggering in, dehydrated in 1hr 56mins, my worst time in several years. At one point I had said to my brother, who was running along with me for a couple of miles, that if I went over 2 hours I would quit running forever!

Luckily I just about made the finish line in time, helped by my eldest son Thomas running the last few hundred metres with me and was thankfully able to carry on with my running.

This time, determined never to repeat this type of performance again, I made several changes in my training. Firstly and most importantly implementing a proper training plan, aided by a newly purchased GPS watch to focus my training. I also made an overdue purchase of some orthotics to help with my ropey right shin and set out to break my PB at the Macc Half.

I arrived at the Macclesfield athletics track where the race was to start about half an hour before the race. The traffic for the car parks was heavy but well marshalled. I was ushered into a nearby car park and found a space no problem and was off to the start for a warm up on the track with 20 minutes still left to the gun.

The start was a lap and three-quarters of the running track and then off out onto the roads for the start of the proper work. The route was a nice rural course, very undulating as you would expect for a rural course but with plenty of downhill to go with the inevitable uphill.

A quick lap to start

The conditions were blustery and I seemed to be running into a head wind for the whole race (always the head wind never a tail wind, why is that???) but the rain held off for the most part which was good and the temperature was perfect for distance running.

My tactics for the day were to push hard on the downhill and flat parts of the route to make up for the time that would be lost on the climbs, particularly the 2 mile climb from miles 10-12.

I was worried at mile 6 that I had covered the first 5 miles too fast as I started to feel heavy legged (the same feeling I would usually expect after 10 miles or so) and indeed this didn’t ease off for the rest of the race.

Thankfully I train a lot around Mow Cop so hills are more than familiar to me and I was making good ground on the climbs and overtook many runners on the uphill sections, which is always good for morale. Despite feeling a little heavy legged I was able to maintain a pace within my target average of 7.38 min/miles by pushing on the downhill to recover what I lost on the climbs.

The race was superbly marshalled and four drinks stations were positioned out on the course although the cups were tricky to drink out of on the move. Still they did the trick and kept me suitably hydrated as I pushed on.

As I hit 11 miles my slowed pace on the 10-12 mile climb led me to believe that I would not make my 1 hr 39 mins  target and a PB. Thankfully though, I had miscalculated and realised as much when I ran past the 12 mile point in 1 hr 31 mins . Freshly invigorated by the thought of a PB I dug deep and pushed hard for the last mile and was pleasantly surprised by my pace, covering the final mile in 7 mins 17 secs.

The finish was on the 100 metre straight back on the running track and the prize a nice technical tee shirt (and PB), much more useful than a medal which usually end up in the kids toy boxes.

Overall it was an enjoyable, friendly event made much more pleasant by the solid organisation and I would definitely take part again. Shame it wasn’t traffic free but the police were on hand to ensure that junctions were blocked and traffic directed sensibly. All in all, a good way to spend a Sunday morning.

Only a few hundred metres to go….almost there.

Only seven days until I do it all over again in Congleton……

My splits for the race are below: –

Split Time Moving Time Elevation Gain Elevation Loss Avg Pace Calories
1 07:04.5 07:03 30 24 07:04 151
2 06:58.5 06:59 0 62 06:59 155
3 07:33.7 07:33 15 0 07:34 156
4 07:00.9 07:02 12 62 07:01 153
5 07:21.1 07:20 15 92 07:21 156
6 08:12.6 08:06 149 0 08:13 156
7 07:48.4 07:48 75 40 07:48 157
8 07:49.0 07:50 31 95 07:49 156
9 07:53.4 07:53 83 69 07:53 153
10 07:19.4 07:19 0 162 07:19 155
11 08:37.8 08:38 135 0 08:38 155
12 08:13.1 08:13 103 14 08:13 155
13 07:17.3 07:18 40 70 07:26 151
 Summary 1:39:09.8 1:39:02.0 688 689 07:38 2,009

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