I’m a big fan of runner and writer George Sheehan, a runners world columnist from the hey day and writer of Running and Being: The Total Experience. Reading a lot of his ambiguous work of running and life. I’m no fantastic writer, but I’m a little bit of a runner; you could probably say Sheehan was an hidden inspiration for starting this whole blog thing to begin with.
As I start my weekend antics something sat resonating with me is the thought of relationships, whether it be your own personal relationship with your partner, or your relationship between the road, trail, fell or track as a runner, your job and career or each individual person around you in your life. It’s something built up over a period of time, forged and cast into your own little creation. Whatever the relationship you share perfection is always the ultimate objective; achieving perfection. Finding that success through running the perfect race or having the perfect night with friends. But what we forget is that to achieve perfection we have to in some way get there. We have to make a journey on a path that is unwritten and unruly. Before the good comes, we have to take the bad. Things might be difficult before it gets easy. It will bring out the best in you, before it brings out the worst. As with many things, as time passes, the connection and feeling gets stronger and deeper; opening up a vulnerable side, susceptible to anything that is thrown at you. You begin to understand your own faults and flaws, they’re understood mutually. The cracks can begin to show and wounds may sometimes never heal. Battle scars are created, carried sometimes in secret. At this stage it could be quite easy to give in, it could be easy to stop and not bother with it all.
Is it really worth it that much? It’s too complicated and too fragmented. You could go and find something better, you could become a cyclist, swimmer, quit all together, find a new group or a new partner, a new lover. But the thing is even then you will start it all again, it won’t ever get better or easier. Perfection isn’t there to be achievable. Perfection is just a word or opinion. It’s not about having the perfect relationship. It’s about knowing what that means to you, the true value of it. Knowing and discovering what you have and the ability you have right in front of you is valuable. For some it takes longer than others. For some, some challenges can bear too much. It’s about making it work, over the time that it takes. Never ever giving up. Persistence is key. Yes it feels amazing when your getting on with the world, and it will feel rubbish when the world is hating on you. But it’s a beautiful life and the beauty is found when all else fails, you can still find your way back to the things you love. When you’re right on the verge and absolute bottom of giving up, you know that there is a true value and it’s worth fighting for. It’s worth it to save it. Success may not come straight away, you may take a path, wonder a little, but at the end of the day success will always find a way. You’ll reach it eventually. Persevere with the things you love, you’ll get there ultimately. Find your love, hold it and never ever let it go. Success isn’t always perfect, beauty isn’t always perfect, perfection isn’t always perfect. But the work to get there, well that just might be it. It may there all around you, you may be too blind to know it until it’s too late. When you’re down and out fighting and can’t do no more. Just remember to yourself it’s right around the corner and never ever fail yourself and give up. ‘Success is having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.’
Anyway onto something a little more directly about running? This week I have already completed two races so far; being the Trunce and race 2 of the South Yorkshire Road League. I mentioned the Trunce in my last write up. However yet the mention the road league. Starting at Worsborough 2 mile from home. Would’ve been ideal to run there but work arrangements meant that I had to run this race in my one hour break! Driving there, quick warm up and off to the start line. 5 mile on a route that I know every dip and climb, running from Worsborough, Wigfield Farm, up under the motorway bridge, up some more and down to the old rockley furnace, climb up and up to Birdwell, before the long drop back to Worsborough. I know this route like the back of my hand and spend many of hour running, driving, walking and cycling around here. Not performing quite so well at the first road league; I wanted to run well here, my ankle seemed somewhat finer. Setting off quick, despite it not feeling quick enough, sitting in behind Tom White for the climb towards Wigfield, Scott in tow as well. Separating just after the trail car park.
Forming positions and eventually settling into 5th for the climb towards the deer farm. Having a small chat with Jorge before attempting to put some distance between me and him. He managed to beat me at the last road league on my injured legs. I pulled away, not to see him again until the end of the race. Watching Scott race tactfully by tucking in third for the climbs in front. Climbing to then descend Stampers Hill towards the furnace and engine house. Still finding myself in 5th. Trying to kick as much as possible. Onto the rest of the climb now towards Birdwell, my driving instructor used to tell me to floor it round here. It’s been a true test road for my car since then, loving this back road. Reaching the end of the climb to see the Brooms out cheering us on.
Before eventually turning the corner, venturing down and back to Worsborough now. I managed to hold position whilst thrashing myself down the hold. Finishing 28:45 on my watch, 5th place. A new 5 mile PB, my previous being at Wombwell 5, when yet again I was poorly!
Anyway onto my weekend antics, a busy weekend lined up, Salford 10k, Parkrun, Ackworth Half Marathon and the option of a race on Sunday, if I so fancy it. In previous years running the Guiseley Gallop trail 10k on the Sunday of this weekend.
Starting with Salford 10k on the Friday. In previous years this has been my PB course, my Manchester Marathon of the 10k world if it lands right, it’s a fast field and flat enough. 2 laps, so can find yourself overtaking people a lot of the time. It’s a well organised event, no fuss. I spoke to Stuart Wilson at the road league Wednesday night and he was sure there would be a strong AC contingent present. Friday came around pretty quick and I opted to not play football with the Fit Reds Thursday night, to keep my legs somewhat fresh. I still managed to set off relatively late around 8.15 for a 10 o’clock race start. Takes an hour to get there. Straight over Woodhead, I did previously have a clean car; but after Friday that was no more. As soon as I approached Woodhead, rain, rain and more rain! This was to be the notion of the race. An ever so slight breeze as well! I arrived at 9.15 despite the Bank Holiday weekend traffic. Straight to collect my number and off for a gentle warm up. Seeing Rich Spooner in the process. 2 mile trot done and made way to the start line. Finding it packed by runners, runners approaching from the front to only pack us in more. Penguins and tighter than the great north run. Warmest I had been all morning! Go. A kick in the shins and we was off. Quickly passed by Mark Havenhand finding myself deep down in the field. Quite far from the front, but I expected that! Slight drizzle and trying to settle into a rhythm, approaching the first bend, joined and slightly passed by Rich Spooner. Ticking the first mile split in 5:22. Fast. But it didn’t feel at all fast; it felt comfortable. Running down the back straight of this 2 lap loop, sand all over the road and I got dirtier here than then trunce on Monday night! Settling in a pack and not settling in a pack as I passed others and got passed. Can only begin to imagine what it felt like running in a race in the hey day! I completed my first 5k split in 17:04. Passing Mark Havenhand just before the half way point. Leaving myself room for fatigue in the second half, I would still be on for PB. But fatigue and fatigue I did. Now the packs had fragmented I was just running fast and trying to hold on, hoping that holding onto the positions will throw me right in there with the time I want. There is never really any tactic when I race, I ain’t a tactician, I’m more of a mad man, I just run fast and hope I don’t fade before the finish line. I have spells of surging and slowing. 5:43 mile 3-4 the first split of the second half, some 20 seconds slower than my first split of my first lap. The race for the bend felt much tougher and the race from Wednesday had finally caught up with me. Down the back straight, the challenge was puddle splashing to clean my legs with the gutter water and some how keep me ticking over. It worked and I picked it up marginally to a 5:39, onto the final mile and twist and turns before the canter back up to the finish line. 5:26 for the split, finishing in 34:28. 43rd place, some 20 seconds better than Dewsbury Long Course; but I’d say currently somewhat unfitter?
After the blast on Friday, it was to be parkrun on Saturday. I managed some how to wake up with a sniffle and bunged up nose. Despite trying to wrap myself in bubble wrap. So off I trotted to parkrun for a steady 1 mile before and had planned on 10 afterwards as I wasn’t working. Decent turnout once again and Barnsley is really going from strength to strength. Good old Team Barnsley! My legs felt heavy all the way round and made harder work of it then I should have. Scott however managed to PB again, taking his PB to 16:34! Ever so close to that lucrative course record! That was that for Saturday, no race just a steady Parkrun. It wouldn’t be Saturday without a Parkrun! Would it?
Sunday came around and the option was to either race Guiseley Gallop or train round here on my own. Guiseley Gallop 10k is a great route and well organised trail 10k; I’ve done it loads but I just fancied a run alone for some weird sadistic reason! I haven’t run on my own for a decent climb and distance in a while and thought it would be nice. Just to get out and run my normal route for once! Been too busy with work to run long on a morning. So off I went for a 16 mile tootle followed by 6 later in the evening. Managing to race with Peter and Chloe going up cone lane on my morning run.
When the evening came around, I did probably regret not going to Guiseley but 22 mile in the bag nonetheless! I went out for a carvery and demolished everything feeling sick with fullness! I just don’t know when to stop.
My last real race of this busy period before a bit of a rest before next weekends antics. That just means not racing Wednesday night! Last few Wednesday’s; I’ve had the Spencer’s dash and 2 of the Road League series. Still feeling a bit groggy and nose blocked, breathing; a struggle. I was stood in my morning shower, contemplating having a steady one. Eating my porridge thinking, Bryan’s running today. I might just pace him round. I got to the race with all intention on doing this. Collected my number had a long chat with Simon Newton and then spoke to Bryan, he didn’t want the pressure of being paced and rightly so! I went off for a steady mile warm up. Feeling a little quite alright. Still unsure what to do. Shall I set off fast and do what I always do and just hold on? Or shall I set off steady and just play it by ear. Or shall I just do what I thought to do this morning and run round at 1:30. I did what I always do anyway and set off quick, quick enough to find myself in 1st place; with no one else around. Breathing heavy and snotting every breath. Galloping down and around to the first bend. Simon Newton was riding shotgun, all nice and comfortable in the lead car. I know the area quite well and know the main hills are around Wentbridge and on Sandygate coming back to the water tower before the finish. Its fast downhill until you get to this bit, I felt comfortable for the first mile 5:31, I didn’t at all feel the 22 mile done yesterday in my legs and was ticking it off with ease. I did set off fast, but it didn’t feel a struggle. 5:40 for the next section; still going downhill and no sign of anyone approaching behind. Pace wasn’t too difficult but I had begun to settle into rhythm, trying to get some tuck behind the lead car. I was some way slower than ‘PB pace’ but I wasn’t chasing PB’s today, I wasn’t even interested in racing.
Mile 3 marker passed 5:56. Slowed massively and now with Wentbridge in sight. I begun swaying in the road and snotting, finding my feet in the ditch more often than not. Speaking to Simon after the race, he said he was worried about me and described me as a drunken man. In truth I began to get worried about myself, swaying and praying for the next water station. At this point the lad who was in 2nd place managed to catch me and pass without any real competition from me. My heart rate in hindsight also shot up from 138’s to 150’s in this mile. Not comfortable anymore by mile 4 and 5. Hitting the first climb and dropping pace to 5:52 and then 6:34; for the climb out of Wentbridge! Dropping back down and playing catch up with myself now. Trying to settle my heart rate in the process, I could feel it in my chest and the blocked nose wasn’t helping my breathing at all and definitely not helping my heart rate. Feeling uncomfortable and trying to run on. Calming down eventually by mile 9! Heart rate then settling by mile 11. I soldiered on around the loop away from Wentbridge towards Darrington anyway, getting passed and now finding myself in 3rd place. My pace had returned to something around 6:00’s now and hitting sub 6:00’s at point. Still slowing and hearing steps behind me. Snotting still and all over the place. Dropping back towards Wentbridge. Hoping again for the water station, running back towards other runners as well now. The water station came but with only one person handing out water and the rest focusing on other runners coming out on the route. It made it difficult to grab a cup so passed up on it and carried on. Now gaining some distance on the lad now in 2nd in front. But still finding myself in 3rd place. I managed to gain some more as the miles ticked by. Reminiscing in my head, the rivers and puddles from last years outing here. Geoff Hayes standing on one of the climbs, telling me to run in the middle to avoid the potholes. I settled a bit more anyway and stopped the swaying as much. Eventually finding myself in 2nd and approaching the final climb from 9 mile to the finish. Nearly done and nearly home. Surging home. Hearing foot steps behind and still running on, Heart Rate back to 140 BPM ish.
I managed to hold on and finish in 2nd Place.
Results Link: https://racebest.com/results/ackworth-half-marathon
Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/946109024
- Sheffield Half Marathon- 09/04- 16th- 1:18:48
- Trunce- 10/04- 7th- 25:14
- South Yorkshire Road League- 12/04- 5th-
- Salford 10k- 14/04- 43rd- 34:28
- Parkrun- 15/04- 17:53- 28:45
- Ackworth Half Marathon- 17/04- 2nd place- 1:18:19
6 races in 8 days. Enjoyable to say the least. A PB at Salford, 2nd at Ackworth and a course PB, found some form in the road league, a PB at the Trunce.
Today has also seen many of my running family run at Ackworth with Bryan Harrod getting again ever so close to 1:30; as well as Spike missing it by 30 seconds but running well as ever. Adrian Gough managed to PB, Barnsley Harriers scooped up many prizes at Ackworth along the way! But at Boston Marathon Damien Briscoe had a strong marathon off not so marathon training. However I am filled with pride for Lee Nash he narrowly missed out on his target of sub 3, course measured at 26.4 on his watch. He clocked a 3:00:44 on watch. Definitely got a lot more to give over that distance, and don’t wanna tempt him with a 2:50 target. What can Yates do at London now with an ambulance on his back?