We’ll start this with last Saturday, the 31st of December, 2016. With hardly any races booked or planned for January, as always, this is generally the month of Parkrun and long Sunday runs. With the 31st being a Saturday it obviously started with a Parkrun, something that has brought a lot of joy and improvement to my running over the course of 161 Parkruns, as it stands now! It has allowed me to network and socialise to a degree with other runners, also to gain a insight into how others train amongst many things discussed on the finish line at Barnsley. Much of this has been down to Bryan Harrod, whom I first really met, for a good chin wag, at the New Year’s Day double 2015. Things have really gone from there, prior to that I used to turn up, run and then go home to collapse on my doorstep. Ian Neville has also been great in terms of offering ideas for improvement, a real character and gent; he was my first real ‘target’ at Parkrun, to try and beat Ian around Barnsley.
Anyway back to Saturday, I was quite surprised when I arrived at the park to see so many runners, 150. Having made a guess at it being under populated because of it being New Year’s Eve and the double Parkrun day on Sunday. For the first time in weeks Scott Hinchcliffe made an appearance, struggling lately with injuries and so on. Someone with a true speed and if he keeps himself fit could potentially break the course record at Barnsley; in my opinion anyway. Scott told me he was ‘jogging’ around taking it easy. The last time he told me that, I PB’ed and he finished in front of me by 10 seconds. Off we went anyway at 9; my legs feeling absolutely shot from slipping and sliding on the ice all week I finished in 17:40, just ahead of Scott. Really does shock me the game of running, took me ages and months to break 20 minutes first, and then 19 and recently 18; but as soon as you pass that barrier you’re looking at the next. 17:30 being my next obvious target; with PB currently sitting at 17:31.
Anyway onto Sunday, double Parkrun day; initially I looked at doing Barnsley and then running to Nostell, 10 mile away generally takes me 1 hour 10 minutes to run it steady. So it would have been a tight call to make it on time. Unless I ran at ‘race pace’ and do it in 60; but I didn’t quite fancy the sprint! Maybe next year. I ran Barnsley anyway and then David Needham had kindly offered a lift, so new plan was then to run back home. Julie Briscoe turned up at Barnsley, the female course record holder (17:36), so I knew it was going to be a fast attempt, and judging by my run yesterday at Parkrun, if she was to beat me, she would probably set a new course record; I was quite confident in the fact that she would beat me having had her beat me at Ward Green a week or so ago. I set off fast and secretly would’ve loved to have PB’ed myself as I felt fresh and Sunday is usually race day, so my race legs are on! I finished close to PB in 17:33, first place just in front of Julie, who didn’t quite manage to PB either. Off we went to Nostell, steady drive through arriving in plenty of time. I went out to ‘recce’ the route to the best of my knowledge asking a Marshall if the route goes down a certain slope, apparently it did. But I wasn’t quite as specific with my question. Off we went to start the run, they’ve changed the route at Nostell and I’m certain it isn’t for the better on a big attendance Parkrun day. The biggest in Yorkshire for New Year’s Day!
I didn’t quite envisage myself being in the lead for the first corner, or throughout the run at all, I wasn’t too certain on the route and carried straight on through the trees; apparently it doesn’t go that way. So I turned back and found myself in 5th, soon clawed back the lead and cantered on towards the wood, taking it steady here as on my ‘recce’ it was slippy and at 5:30 pace it wasn’t going to be easier! Heard a few ‘oh shits’ behind me, and a few fallers, no good. On towards the ‘out and back’ section, now this is where it got interesting; it’s not the biggest of paths, so running back towards the 495 attendees was really not a smart move. Getting swore at by a few of the runners as we were hurtling towards them, splitting there rhythm; but it really is a course where you’ve got to run on the left. On upwards towards the house, plenty of support from the other runners. Still finding myself in the lead, with my heels frustratingly being clipped by the lad behind me. Probably looking for a bit of space from the other runners coming towards us! Turning back now onto the path that I originally ran down and looping back again towards the runners to do a lap again, now lapping people making effectively 4 queues of runners. Some running 3/4 wide, not good. It didn’t feel quite safe. Looping back into the wood and seeing a lad with his arm in a sling and eye cut, epitomised the course for me. I ran up on the out and back turnaround point, still in the lead, and made the turn coming down was basically a shut eye moment and hope you don’t run into anyone. Trying to get past people and trying to not fall was the real aim. Climbing up to the house, there was a group running 4/5 wide this time and a group coming towards at the wrong time, making it impassable. Marshalls shouting to the left, I managed to hit a gap, the lad behind me didn’t hit a gap and ran into someone after a few exchanged words he soldiered on. With the fear took first place by 2 seconds, despite sitting on my shoulder for the full 5k! Ah well, another Parkrun done and a 11 mile run home meant more miles in the bank. Ps. It was freezing and I even ‘parkrunned’ in a jumper!
Onto Monday and the Ambles Revenge, a local ‘fell’ race a reverse route of the Hunshelf Amble. With a few bad ass climbs, using it as a training run and strength builder I wasn’t really targeting time or position; I woke up late so couldn’t run there and back as I originally planned. I knew the course, as I’ve run in the area a fair few times and was confident of where to turn and where the climbs were. I glanced at the map, but really planned on sitting in behind to aid with navigation. Even saying to Kilpin before, I’m just going to wing it. X Talons on, a slight rip in the front, I hadn’t planned to do a ‘Yates’ either. Thankfully that didn’t happen! Setting off after being warned about black ice on route struck fear into the eyes of the runners. Left for a very hesistant run until we go off the road. Gunning down the trail and taking the path to avoid the tunnels, hardly any ice to be seen. But going down the hill, towards the bottom road, that was pure ice. Runners all around opting to run on the grass at the side, the smallest patch of grass available. Seeing the braver ones slip and slide as they made a move on positions, only reaffirmed that we had to run on the grass. Out and around hitting familiar racing territory for many as we join the trunce route. Up into the woods and more familiar territory as this is where me and Mark ran for the leg 7 recce, before christmas.
After the woods is where it got interesting, having Damian Kilpin in my sights for the majority of the run, I felt confident on having some navigational aid. However a find weaves and turns, I had lost him. Now in a pack of not so local runners, I soldiered on. Missing the turning for the steep and slippy climb through the woods. Eventually reaching the bypass, knowing I’d gone too far. Making a turn to go up through the farm to rejoin the route, 4 or 5 had made the mistake in front of me. Damian and Paul Johnson not being one of them. With 4 or 5 also behind me, taking a lot of the ‘leading’ runners out of the race. I rejoined at the top of the wood running an extra half a mile and rejoining in 30th position to see Simon Haywood at the top of his climb.
The challenge was now on, kicking on to gain a higher position for the overall race. Cantering on a familiar path as this is part of the boundary route. I knew where to speed up and slow down. Passing plenty of runners on their way, Martin Ball, Steve Fowler, I knew I was high up in the field, but wasn’t quite sure how high. These guys are usually up or around there. Trying to hit every section with speed. Even the bit where you run on top of the wall! Cracking on and hearing the First Lady shout, and seeing Robin Clough and Alan Ford I had some more targets and onto the last mile, something more smoother once you get out of the fields I kicked on again for the last mile. Making it my fastest for the run. Finishing with an extra half mile run and a sprint finish in 9th place. 58:15.
It does make me wonder, because it takes me 3 minutes to 3:30 to run half a mile, so where would I have finished otherwise. Another training run in the bank though and a race more of experience.
Now the week begins after a bank holiday Monday, consisting of 30.7 miles and 8.2 of them coming from a fell race. I woke up Tuesday to find my legs a little achey and heavy, 6 minute miles wasn’t going to be a training pace this week. But Monday and Tuesday are my high mileage days, it doesn’t generally matter about pace, heart rate or any of that. It’s just about running through it, opting for a 20 miler in the morning and a 7 in the evening. Averaging 7:15’s, my legs felt less achey by the end of the day. I hadn’t started back at work yet with it being the first day back for most schools and all my fitness sessions yet to start up, it was a quiet and easy Tuesday. Nice to have some time alone after the Christmas period.
The wind was bitingly cold Tuesday, and getting out of the house for my long run was the most difficult. Toying with the idea of going running for about an hour. I hate days off the most, complete lack of motivation and drive to get anything done. I work much better when I’m in a rush or approaching some sort of deadline. Anyway 27 for the day, and a chest/arms session in the gym.
Now onto Wednesday, I was back at work; only having a session for disabled adults, a lunchtime session at Joseph Locke and a PT session later in the day. So an easy day of 4 hours work, still not a normal day but plenty of gaps to fit runs in. I originally planned a long run before work, but woke up late. So made it out for an hour of 8.25 slow miles. This was to be the theme for the day. 8 miles that is. Having a break later to fit a faster 8.25 miles in on the exact same route. Wind a little calmer today, but still relatively cold. Back out again after work, giving some little add ons to make it 8.5 mile and 25 for the day. Legs still a little tired, so opting to skip speed work for today; putting Monday’s efforts down as Hill Work. Hopefully resuming it in the following week. I saw the Barnsley Harriers Speed/Hill session on the back end of my run Wednesday night and that was a massive turn out for what I’m presuming was reps of Capitol Park at Dodworth. Hitting shoulders in the gym as well today, ensuring my upper body also feels achey and heavy!
Now onto Thursday, miles begin to reduce now, well they should do. Mainly because I don’t have the legs in me, and I usually start here to recover for whatever the weekend entails. Ensuring I’ve enough speed in my legs for Sunday’s races. No races but I’ll choose to stick to my usual plan or routine. Having a Walking Football session, teaching Girls Football in Ossett and a Fit reds session in the evening, it’s a fairly active day for work. I went out for 11 mile in the morning, running my home-dodworth-Silkstone loop/bent frying pan; taking it easy, but still feeling the cold weather, opting to wear 3 layers. In the evening is the real interesting run, on the Trans Pennine Trail with Mark Yates. Back to the headtorchs. Leg 5 this week, Manvers to Tankersley; nice and flat, easy to navigate. But me and Mark still ended up lost, taking a slight detour out towards Chapeltown. Bitingly cold, beard freezing completing 12 mile, making it 23 for my day.
Friday is my rest day, recovery day, easy day. Struggling to sleep the night before after I finished Fit Reds. I went out for what was meant to be a 12 mile recovery canter. Remembering I had a meeting at work at 10; cutting it down to just short of 4. I was finishing for a 2 hour break at 1.30 so resumed the rest of my run later. Making it eventually 14 for the day. Nice and easy recovery, opting to train Back and Abs in the gym. And a Birthday Party with a group of 6 year olds to round my day off nicely.
Now we are back at Parkrun day, waking up early to try and get extra miles in before hand, I still got out the house at 8.40 making room only for 2 before. I was feeling sluggish and legs feeling heavy, I had slept around 3 hours, feeling a bit snotty; mainly from mine and the girlfriends first week back with snotty kids, I should imagine. I managed to shake that in my 2 mile pre game. But still felt heavy and achey. Saying to Scott Hinchcliffe before hand that I might just pace steady around. I was being honest. Alan and Jane’s last Parkrun as run directors, brought a lot of individuals out and some faces very rarely seen at Parkrun. Which made a large turnout. My last few Barnsley Parkrun’s I’ve been close to PB, and eager to break the 17:30 barrier.
But I didn’t expect today to be that day. Legs feeling tired and lack of sleep. I set off with Scott on my shoulder, I know his pace and he knows mine. He can tank me on the up hills usually; but he has been struggling recently with a back injury. I kept going thinking that I am running steady. Quite shocked to hear 5:46 for the first lap. A quick calculation in my head, 11:30? 17:15? That would be a massive PB if I can run an even split. I was so close at 17:33 last Saturday. With Scott still on my shoulder pushing me along, legs feeling a little slow; I really thought that I lost momentum on my second lap. 11:35 I went through in. So not too much lost. Run another 5:50 lap and I’ve done it. The final lap is where it gets truly challenging, fatigue and you begin to lap people. Not quite as bad as Nostell’s 4 lane queue system; but breaking through runners when they are yet to be passed is a challenge. They aren’t anticipating you. Scott had dropped behind and I guessed his injury had the better of him. Weaving around everyone I managed to pass the main bulk of runners after the car park climb. I knew PB was going to be tight. Steve Frith managed to catch me in a red top for a ‘sprint’ finish.
Clocking 17:25. A PB by 6 seconds.
Obviously red doesn’t suit me. So a photoshop moment later, sorted that out.
Few miles here and there after Parkrun and in the afternoon took me to 136 miles since Monday.
Onto Sunday, no race planned just long miles, my next race booked in is Inskip Half Marathon, Preston way. In 2 weeks, a really good route and race that I’ve enjoyed the last few times that I’ve done it. Anyway back to Sunday. Plan was Leg 1 and 2 of the Boundary maybe run home from the end of leg 2, collect car later, off road mainly, a lot of climb steady running. Bryan and Mark came along for the ride. Set off just a little after 8, I’m notoriously late. Always. Bryan had planned to cut some corners off, not being prepared he felt for the long challenge ahead. Looked strong though and kept talking, despite how he said he felt. Leg 1 and the start of leg 2 is a climb, Cannon Hall up to High Hoyland, down to High Hoyland and up to Staincross common. After that it’s flat for the rest of the official boundary run for today.
Plodding on, finding navigation quite alright today, probably my two most comfortable legs for navigation. Hitting a comfortable 8 minute mile pace, powered by my special sherbet lemons. Clocked 16 mile in by time we got to the speed camera at Brierley. Muddy shoes, feeling like blocks of concrete it was only right to bang them off on the wall.
A quick picture with the gang and off we went.
I kicked on after the camera at Brierley, next destination home. Planning to get a lift from the brother to go collect my car. 21.5 and I was home. No one in, I nipped for a quick drink. Changed to a pair of road shoes, clean socks; necessitie. Back out again only 6 ish mile to Cannon Hall. Hitting sub 7 minute miles from my house to the car. Clocking 28 mile in 3 hours 33 minutes.
164.2 miles done since Monday.
17:40/ 1st place/ Barnsley Parkrun
17:33/1st place/ Barnsley Parkrun
17:47/2nd place/ Nostell Parkrun
58:15/ 9th place/ Ambles Revenge
17:25/ 1st place/ Barnsley Parkrun
Longest run: 28 mile
Highest day: 30.7 mile
207.2 miles done since the start of this story!
Just Keep Running!