My first blog post was called first steps, it seems fitting to call it the same again. As individuals and runners; we should always be looking to make a step forward. A step into something unknown, gaining an experience or learning perspective of something new. Whether be stepping out the door to run your first ever run. Signing up to a race. Taking part in a Fell run, when you’re used to the road. Having a new experience, trying a new event or taking a different path.
This week for me two pinnacle moments happened in my running life. In simple terms, I ran my first race not wearing blue, apart from my under shorts, shoes and watch. I also set up a facebook group; aptly named ‘Team Barnsley,’ in an attempt to unify all the pockets of running club communities in Barnsley.
My first race for Penistone
Joining Penistone a week or so ago. I snapped up a road league number and also was offered a place in the road relays. One of the key pulls to joining a club. Was to put a spin on my running and run as part of a team. So naturally I accepted. In an attempt to run with faster people, putting an extra challenge on my running and also using the push and pull of a team like spirit to engage and motivate me to run faster.
The 12 stage relays were set in the backdrop of Blackpool. John Broom the go to guy for organising the relays and who is running what leg. As always I wanted to run Parkrun on the Saturday, it isn’t a Saturday without a Parkrun. Anyway I got up with a thrashing headache to go to Parkrun, opting for a steady run up the street to the start; headache caused by lack of water the day before, my own fault. Nothing much for a warm up. Busy Parkrun day, 232 runners. The nice weather has brought everyone out! I set off and couldn’t break, so settled in, letting Tim pull out in front. I eventually caught him and finished in 17:54, choosing to hold off. With the 12 stage relay leg later in mind. Me and Scott had arranged to go through together to Blackpool, he met me at parkrun setting off straight away. Having previously had a part stolen from my car, I had arranged with the guy who I originally bought the part from; as he lives in Blackpool; to collect a replacement. It seemed a crime not to. Thinking we’d have plenty of time beforehand. The nice weather though had pulled a lot of weekend daytrippers to the coast. With traffic on the motorways being horrendous. Taking advice of co-pilot Scott making a few little diversions. We arrived to then drive around for 30 minutes to find a parking spot.. Finally getting to the Footpath Runners camp; with Spike panicking cause he was going to have to fill in for Scott if needs be on Leg 5, I was on Leg 7. Both Me and Scott were doing the longer legs. The challenge was to finish 25th position or higher to hopefully then qualify for the nationals. A borrowed vest from Rob Lees and I was ready. The run started with Andy Heppenstall doing a longer leg, passing the baton to Robin Clough. Although I wasn’t present, I can imagine the first and second leg being tough, due to increased foot traffic and the competition for places. Both strong runners; finding ourselves in 50th position after leg 2. It just goes to show the amount of competition present on the day. Shaun up on a longer leg, self-proclaimed, not running well at the minute. But as always strong, finished in 48th the race on to claw back positions. Chomp by chomp. Phil up and managed again to claw back places. 46th now. Scott then blew it out of the water managing to claw 10 places back on his run alone. Even though he thought he would run 35 minutes, managed a 31:34, despite feeling a niggle on his leg. Pain Threshold? What is that? Tom up and again put us right in the business end of the field 32nd. The fringes of possible qualification. Up with the faster teams. I was up and ready for my first run in a vest. With Scotts time in mind. I had 32-33 in my head, setting off quick, knowing that whilst in the pen, 3/4 other runners in front had also set off just minutes ahead of me. Stuart Wilson set off just behind me and I was determined to not let him catch me. I managed to find another runner on the same leg very early on, passing him on the first little climb. Getting caught in with two runners on their shorter leg, one in front and one behind, trying to tuck in, but their pace way faster than mine for the shorter distance, I managed to hold in as long as I could. A lot of foot traffic and non-running related pedestrians on route, cutting up the runners. First lap down, and averaging 5:35’s ish. I was alright, I probably set off too quick but with lack of targets for a while in front, I found pacing interesting on the second lap. It seemed a very lonely leg. Running slower on the second lap, but finishing in 33:02, now in 30th place. Shaun stood at the gate counting runners coming through and knew we was in the business end. Massive pressure on the later leg runners now. Following Matt Robinson and Rob Lees finding ourselves in 26th! Right on the edge of qualification. Team spirit definitely felt massive whilst I was there on the day. I enjoyed it! Me and Scott went for a little cool down and set off home. Leaving it in the hands of John, Spike and Gary. They’d been there truly all day, so it was a long day for them. Eventually we finished in 30th place. But with exceptional running from all and quality effort put in, you can’t really grumble at that. Proud to have worn the vest for the first time!
Like I mentioned in my post last week, with the inspiration of joining Penistone, I was intrigued and inspired to have a community where all the runners in Barnsley are one. I am aware of the split of Barnsley Road Runners Club into the AC and Harriers and the history of the Barnsley 6 and marathon. I am also aware of the history of running in Barnsley, the boom, Midwood sports (my mum used to work there) and the quality of runners in Barnsley. In my own personal opinion, it would be great to have one club in Barnsley again, united in all. We are on the edge of it already, with runners from each club supporting each other, training with each other and sharing with each other. Imagine the quality and size of such a thing. Realistically probably not possible now. But a second claim or smaller community group, probably possible. Anyway I set up a facebook group, Team Barnsley. Nothing much, its only facebook. I already run on occasion with various runners, Scott, Bryan, Adrian, Lee, Mark, Jonathan and Damien. I’d run with any runner if they ask. But I set it up with the idea of having training runs published if anyone wants company or pushing, to share your achievements and just look for general inspiration from others around you. It would be great to unify the running clubs in Barnsley eventually.
I personally took part in my first Team Barnsley run over the weekend, but I know there was plenty more advertised on the page as well. Opting for leg 9 and 10 of the boundary, Dunford Bridge to Cawthorne. The takers, Lee Nash, Bryan Harrod and Jonathan Batty. A great run out, talking about goals, training, life and footpaths! Majority downhill but it definitely doesn’t feel it at times running through heavy fields. Largely uninterrupted by dogs. But we did find navigation on Leg 9 tough, it being the first time I’ve run it in the day. It looks so different! Finding ourselves at stages in ravines, bogs, main roads and people’s gardens. But 17 mile later for me and 16.5 average for the others, I took a loop at the end for OCD purposes. And also ran off to sniff navigation at times. But very enjoyable and I look forward to our next one!
Next weekend, I’ve bigger plans, but we’ll not bang on about that just yet. We will see. I’m gutted though at the minute that I’m not at the trunce Monday night. I am however ready for my second outing in a vest, Wednesday night at the South Yorkshire road league.
Things I’ve appreciated this week is to let your running take you places, find new people and help you improve!
Just Keep Running.