Also known as a flat and fast half. Only problem is that it falls on the same weekend as the Great North. It’s a great alternative. Plus it’s cheaper and it’s closer to home, it’s flatter, it’s quiet but still busy with over 1200 runners entered and it’s a whole world nicer, for me. It’s been running now for 5 years, I’ve done it twice before and this will be my 3rd. Breaking 80 minutes in 2016. For a 79:43. Then running my lifetime 2nd quickest Half Marathon here in 2017, for a 76:14. My quickest coming from Inskip, when there was snow and ice down in January 2017, being 74:10. This year though, I’ve not raced as much and not raced an Half Marathon since Retford in March. But that step back has allowed me to refresh, get the love back and kick on a little bit. My PB of 74:10, I believe now to be a little soft. Given my result at Gilberdyke. I’m high on confidence and feeling well. I suppose that’s the main thing for us runners. Where you know you can afford to set off and run at a particular pace, safe in knowledge that your able. But it’s a fine line, between feeling good, getting injured or running a little too conservative or pushing it a little bit too much. It’s always a test. Of where you’re at. What you’re truly capable of.
This week brought the end to the Spencer’s Dash series, for this year anyway. A series us Barnsley runners know and if you’ve ever run it, possibly love. It’s fast, it’s not flat, it’s a challenge and has everything. I’ve run everyone one of them this year, as I did last year and then year before. Up until the August ones of this year, I’ve struggled around. Not feeling exceptionally great, running with a tight achilles. But turning up and still enjoying the whole run. Dashing to the Dash, holding hands with David and Crawling back, usually towing him. The Dash in September I managed a 20:51, 1 seconds slower than PB. I didn’t think at the time, I’d PB in the September Dash. I didn’t think at the time I had it in me. But it happened and a massive one at that. Running a 20:26. So a 24 second PB. Running with Scott Nutter for the majority of the way round. A young prodigy!
I’m not one of those that sets a soft PB to then easily beat it next year. I love a challenge, so project sub 20 for the Dash starts here! With it being the last one, that also meant prize giving. Top 3 shaped up of the Dam Wall Team.
Racing together, training and running together. Makes it all the more special. Plus it just went to show how much Kieron has improved this year, he hasn’t won a race. Never finished in front of me, but PB’ed, a lot of the time. Giving it his all at every race.
We started taking orders for the new Team Barnsley shirt on Thursday. Me already selling 20 by close of play Thursday night. Then plenty more came as Friday and Saturday went on. Friends of Locke Park donations a plenty!
The weekend drew in quick and the darker nights are coming in, making the days feel a whole world shorter. Before I knew it, it was Parkrunday. Again. My body clock lately has got me into the habit of waking up at 5.30 for some strange reason, despite having no early morning starts for a good 2 month. So Saturday came at 5.30 for me. Deciding not to attempt any sleep just lay in silence, faking sleep. So as not to wake Ellie. So turning up at Barnsley with lack of sleep but more awake than usual as my body had plenty of chance to come round! I set off quick and managed one of those PB things!
Standing now at 16:46. Take a minute off of that for a 5k, that’s the rule, ain’t it? A 5:20 lap times 3 at Barnsley, that’s what it would take for the course record. So step up, Scott and Moody?
Onto the Vale of York, you’d think having York in the title you’d be a little closer to York. But it’s East Leeds. Sherburn in Elmet. Starting at an airfield and then running out, looping and running back. Only hill over a railway bridge, rather like Gilberdyke. The airfield today was active, so it was going to be a long morning getting out the car park. So packed my food and off I went at 7.15. Arriving around 8ish. Straight to have a wee and got my number, chill out and relax, then warm up. Body clock woke me up at 5.30 again, stupid!
Quickly spying a familiar face in Simon Lambert, gets everywhere. Then plenty more faces from Team Barnsley. Hannah Butcher and Shaun Butcher with their son, Jack. Chatting and milling around. I was struggling to wake up and that probably didn’t come around 9 ish. Half way through some sort of warm up. I made my way to the start, knowing that 5:30 pace would land me somewhere around 1:12. That was the dream and what I planned to go off at. Seeing a few people I knew that was capable of doing that, one being John Hobbs from Valley striders. Delayed start as per usual. Stood on the line, they moved us forward around 9.35. For us to then go at 9.40. We was off. Short 400M out and back on the runway and then off on our adventure. Quickly established to my body that I wanted to run quick today. Finding myself in the lead. Also signalling to myself that I had probably set off a little too quickly than anticipated. Clocking 78 seconds for the first 400. Then 76 with the wind behind me. The wind was going to be a massive factor today, you just knew it from that first 400. It’s open most of the race with no shelter from it. The direction of it was telling for a tough last 4/5 mile. Mile 1 came around where I parked my car. So would have been easy for a quick pull out if I felt the need! Then off on the country roads leaving the airfield.
Quickly set into a position of 2nd upon exiting the airfield, knowing that there was a pack of strong runners behind me. One of them being John.
Clawed a bit of a gap behind me, some had something to play with in terms of pace. Risky thing though finding myself on my own, it helps so much being in a pack of runners. So began to slow and settle down, just for them to catch me so I could tag on and in. Then I settled in and the miles came easy, albeit the wind was behind us. But it made it easy running. Dropping the markers one by one. Focussing just on where to place my feet, just so I don’t clip one of them over! We was in a strong pack of 6. Working off of each other and working our way through the course. Attempting also to take the best possible racing line as you can, on the country lane. Mile 4,5 went away with ease. Through Bishop wood where I previously took my pit stop at the event in 2016. We split off the out and back section soon after and looped around Wistow Common. Literally not a hill in sight in these parts, just fields, and fields. There’ll be a guy one day saying, I remember when it all used to be fields. Maybe 100/200 years from now. Although he’ll have had a pretty long life! We then began to loose the shape of the pack, with one runner tailing off and 6 soon became 4. We didn’t push the pace, just held it. But I herd a grumble right before he tailed off. ‘You lot aiming for 70 minutes or something, it bloody feels like it,’ we was probably running 5:30 pace. If that. Looped through the only built up area on route. Before eventually making our way to mile 8.75. The point where we rejoined all the runners out on there journey. Back through Bishop Wood and that’s where the race begun for the pack runners. I wasn’t too fussed about racing. Mainly just keeping some sort of pace. I kicked on and found myself leading the group. Sheltered from the wind, feeling ok. Then, that didn’t last long before I ended up at the tail of the small group we had. Then they kicked and left me, one of them would eventually go onto overtake the current leader who had ran it all on his own! So it shows how close we actually were. Quickly finding myself at the last water station and eventually out of the wood, the cheers from all the runners I know and saw helped! Massively! Even though I didn’t have it in me to reply. Now on my own. Grinding out those eventual miles. The bare bones of running. Seeing away in the distance, the buildings where the finish line should be. Pace began to slow. Mentally I knew I’d got a PB in the bag. Just a case by how much. Struggling to battle in the wind, it had hit now. Holding in there and the finish line getting closer and closer.
Arriving to plenty of familiar faces. Dotted around the place, getting closer and closer to the finish. I crossed in:
Hung around for a bit for a chat, and then off I went for a small cool down and to find Hannah Butcher battling into the wind. To then kick a little by the looks of things.
With Luke McGuinness and Hannah who both finished strong, a 1:48:44 (PB) for Luke and 1:41:34 for Hannah.
Wanna hear a funny story too, it includes Robert Davies…. stood around, talking to Adrian, Andy and Rob. Chatting about the race, Adrian’s nature and the camber on the course. Rob says, I’ve got some Team Barnsley money, you going to around here. This was about 11.30. Yea, I’ll be here, if you don’t see me, my car is parked right on the corner of the first field. You can’t miss it. Leave the money on my wiper or in the exhaust and I’ll get it from there. After some confusion, yea ok. Off he went. I carried on chatting to Andy and Adrian and then, gave it 10 minutes. Thinking I’ll go get my prize, or see if they’ve done the prizegiving. Off I went, got it. Around 11.45 ish. Then spoke to Andy and Adrian again, before splitting and Andy went to get his prize. I went back to the car, had something to eat and started looking over the cars to see if Rob. Had either found my car, or was making his way to my car or back to the Finish area. I messaged him on Facebook, just to check. Then I spotted him, wandering through the fields, looking pleasantly confused… I ran over to him, I can’t find my car. Must have been a thousand cars! What colour is it? Grey. What make? A Peugeot. Then he said the reg, which I’ve forgot. I then, helped him look. Must have been 25 minutes him looking around the car park for his car. I helped him, and then went back to my car to put some warmer clothes on. To then go and look for him again, eventually found his car and Rob with it. It looked lost and lonely, a bit cold and heartbroken when he found it. I’m sure he was overjoyed. He was looking completely in the wrong place for such a long time. None of us got out the car park until 12.45 either. Because the runway was open to air traffic today, meaning one way in and out. For both Cars and Runners. So they didn’t open the gates. Nightmare.
Set off quick and held the pace well until I hit the wind. In hindsight was lucky to hold on. The wind was testing in parts and a tough battle but enjoyed it nonetheless and it’s a 43 second PB. Personally think with less windy conditions can afford another minute on that. But it being an out and back course, the breeze will have benefited me at some stage! Another positive to take from it, is that I managed a fair few other PB’s along the way!
Typical, you think you’re trying so hard for months and then they all fall at once!
PB week with the Spencer’s, Parkrun and Vale of York.
Now for me, comes the sickening part. The part that is going to leave me feeling in shock and disbelief for some time. Unfortunately yesterday morning (Saturday) I found out that a fellow athlete and friend passed away, the coming of this is tragic and deeply depressing. He was in my thoughts all yesterday and today, even more so when I was running, spending my time with my mind. From everything that ever happens when you loose someone, I always look if there is something, if anything that I personally can take from it. Something that could teach me to be a better person. A positive that I could learn from it. I’m sure others possibly do the same, possibly a memory, a gesture or a single moment. Something that sits in your mind about the person. I have one that stands out from our last Team Event, it was a few words, a small moment. The last track meeting of the year, Gary was there and we ran the 5000m together. Before the race, he was track side. Messing around with his phone, trying to prop it up against the bin. Walking on to the start together, what you done with your phone mate? I’ve set it up to record us running the track. He replied. I like to watch us go round and round. Is the camera good enough on that though? His response, it’s pretty good actually. There was more words exchanged after. All running related. Targets and the challenge of the race and then we raced. It’s not an iconic symbol, this moment, it’s not a large part of life. It’s a small little flicker. There’s other moments too, probably what others might remember him for, his post race drinks, winning at first to the bar, his biking, his locomotives, his general chit chat, his loving nature. Being laid on a blanket at our team events having a drink, before racing if I remember rightly at one of the 12 stage relays. Or hitch hiking to Knowsley to compete in the Northern Cross Country event. His commitment and nature to team events, he was an always run. You could always count on Gary to be there. Always pulled on his PFR vest, probably a little too many times, did you see the state of it at the Dash on Wednesday? But he’d always be on that line for you, ready to go. Then for me, I look for symbolism in things. The picture above, that’s why I chose it, the symbolism in that to me, it’s clear. It’s Gary, he’s passing a baton. Not just to me, but to every runner ever possible. To take some, just a little bit of something that he had. A true team player. Just raw and pure character. To learn a bit of that and find it in yourself. Then it’ll be ‘pretty good actually.’
Just Keep Running!