10k, some people would prefer this distance. Some people would prefer 5k. Me on the other hand, maybe not. Give me a Marathon any day. I love the slog and the hours, the long game. The drive and kick, the pain and misery. The aches, the hard work that I can put into it over months of training. For an all out blast when race day comes around. I don’t have that drive for a 10k, neither do I have it for a 5k. But ultimately to get better at the longer stuff, you have to get better at all the little stuff in between. Given my marathon times, a 10k predictor would have me somewhere around the 32 minute mark, at least. My current 10k PB sits at 33:36 from Burringham a month ago now. But with little company on the course, other than the lead cyclist, I was sure I could go faster than that. Maybe even on tired legs! My previous 10k PB prior to that being from the Derwent Dash, where the circumstances were relatively the same. 33:46, again with little company, only the lead car! So the Abbey Dash, the week after The Snowdonia Marathon. Will I have recovered enough, probably not. But I might as well try, I’ve the Percy Pud and Barnsley 10k coming up. So it’ll set a good target regardless for them two races. The Dash however is one of the fastest races in the country, attracting one of the fastest fields in the country. It’s just a shame it’s a shambles of a start, more about that later, I’m sure of it.
The week in the build up, has been steady, I felt relatively ok after The Snowdonia effort, enjoying bits of North Wales, even if it was a bit ‘windy’ with Ellie before getting back to the working life.
The miles in the early part of the week was a bit of a tow, but speedwork on Wednesday night got me back into some sort of gear, however not the top. Still believing I haven’t actually found my top gear yet! Especially not where speed is involved. Maybe I will, one day. The running then became a little easier and got going. I struggled a little around Parkrun on Saturday. So glad that Scott is back to some sort of fitness though, gives me a great target to run around with him as well at the park. I just need a fresh pair of legs now. After the Parkrun on Saturday I was no where near confident enough going into the Dash on Sunday. Still having Snowdonia hills in my legs, the hills were such a struggle! Although the Dash is classed as ‘flat,’ it does have some cheeky little rises thrown in. Just to remind you, you’re in Yorkshire, you know? That’s where I’d think I’d struggle today, to switch it up and run at pace. Whatever it is that is top end speed at the minute.
With it being largely the main local bonfires on the Saturday night me and Ellie chose to go to the one at Woolley and meet one of her friends there. Getting back too late to want to cook anything we ended up having a rare chinese takeaway, leaving me overly stuffed, full of salt and an extremely spicy mouth from a few too many chilies! Ah well. Getting into bed and tossing and turning knowing that I had to be up left me with little sleep and not wanting to get up when my alarm went off. Straight in the shower, bit of breakfast, still feeling full from going to bed off the back of a large meal. I was out the house for 8 ish, only an half an hour run through to Leeds for the Abbey Dash. Which isn’t bad at all! I opted for my new style zeon vest today, to try it out and see what its like in comparison to the older Ron Hill vest I always wear. The Ron Hill one is getting a little stained from regular racing and its got a few marks on it here and there. Got into the car park at the Victoria near the bus station for just past half past. Got changed at the boot, was surprisingly warm, so straight down into shorts for a mile jog. Came back to the car, got my vest on and decided I needed a pee. Not wanting to queue for the toilets, from experience, queues are always massive at these kind of events. I parked next to the Bus Station so assumed there would be toilets in there, taking a bit of change out the car as there is usually a charge in bus stations. Only took 20p, so it’s a good job I got it spot on! Then made my way to the starting area, spotting David Kidd from Pontefract on the way. Its an hectic mad dash here at the start, with over 700 runners usually who are capable of sub 40 on the day, everyone wants to get off to a fast start. Everyone competitive, everyone challenging themselves. Stood in the pen, instantly spotting Kevin Ogden from Spen, a quick chat with him and Jonathan Walton, a familiar face lately. The pen quickly filled and the rope was pulled across us. Separating us from around 50 or so ‘elite’ runners, who managed to grab themselves a number with their name on the front. Many deservedly so, however there must be a better way of organising this. The mad dash could potentially be dangerous and giving people who aren’t quick enough to keep up, a front row number only dangers themselves. Everyone around me identifying their own beliefs on this. Personally believe their should be an elite female start a couple of minutes earlier to save them getting trampled on. There was at least 155 males before the 1st female finished. There was also plenty of men in the elite starting pen who couldn’t keep up as well, passing plenty of them in the first mile or so; but that is down to the organisers giving out numbers, to which they could also prevent. Grumble over, we was walking forward to join the elites. Rope in front and then stopped with about a 10 meter gap between us. It didn’t last long, with a surge of runners from behind, who must’ve thought we had started, we got pushed forwards and was quickly in and amongst all the elites. Sandwiched and packed in, the starter said, its a narrow start, be careful. A 10 second count down and like that, we was off. Pushing around, being carried along as if you’re crowd surfing, pushing, people pulling. A few trips and stumbles, didn’t hear many apologies. Kicking around, clipping and dashing to get out and under the bridge out onto some wider road. It felt so long until we finally made it out. Despite it only being 3 seconds until I crossed the starting mat. I was way back in the field, the rather deep and condensed field. The 1k marker was down before I knew it. I’d known from experience that to at least PB, I’d need to run around 5:20 minute mile pace. Which is 1:20 per 400 meters, what I’ve got my watch split set at. I was up on that in the first 1k, running a 1:14 and 1:13 once I got moving. Then seeing Shaun and Jack out on route, supporting Hannah. I think I said something in response to their shout, but in reality, I probably didn’t. I was trying to fight my body to hold some pace! The first mile was down or recognising that on the course as the 2k marker, so slightly longer. 5 more reps of them to go! Onto the only detour on the course, in and around the small retail park, few speed bumps and began to pass a few people. Those who set off way too quick or got carried away too early. Quickly rejoining the route and ticking down the markers or the small landmarks that I recognise until we get to the Kirkstall Abbey turning point. Wanting to get there in something like 16:30 for the 5k, to then hopefully pick it up in the second half. But knowing in the back of my mind, that the course slightly rises, dips and rises again in the mile leading up to the turnaround marker. But on the way back, feels ever so slightly more down hill. Psychologically I always try to picture myself running down an hill, because that is when it is easy! I even do that when I’m going up them. Imagination can be a great tool for positive thinking! 5:01 and 5:11 for the first 2 miles, so giving me roughly 30 seconds in my pocket. The small climb up to the turnaround had started and I was passed by a few runners, one of those being Matt Craig of Hallamshire, telling me to hold in there. I was trying but by this point, the speed had begun to fade and marathon legs were taking over. My body switched modes from the fast running like before to the marathon body. The ticking over pace, I was telling my legs to go faster, but they were trying too conservatively. I was trying to kick, to do everything I’ve told my body not to do for the last 2 months. I was trying to spring it into life. A winter of speed training and focus on a few more ‘shorter’ races will do it naturally, maybe. I was grinding the mile now to the turn instead. Clocking a 5:28, good job I had 30 seconds in the bag from before! Splitting the turn in 16:30, just as planned. Immediately hitting a wall of wind. Running and pushing onwards. A few people had dropped out by now, stripping their bib off, even their vest in some cases, probably in anger or disappointment?
Back down hill now, chance to see everyone else out on the dash. Passing many different vests from Barnsley, many faces I know. Arriving to shouts of Barnsley, Penistone, Gareth, Gaz, Just Keep Running. Trying to shout back if I saw them in advance. Picking my battles with the people around me on the busy course. Head up, driving the best I could in my marathon body back to the city centre. Using the actual downhill to help me in doing so. The pace on my watch was dropping. Still around the 1:20, 400 meter mark but sometimes clocking a 1:21 or 22. I wasn’t focussed on it, that might have been my issue. Afterwards I’ve looked at them all and noticed I’ve plenty of 1:17/18/19’s in and around them all as well. I ain’t one to constantly be looking for feedback from the technology on my wrist though. Keep on going now, 6k marker down and then the 7k marker. Around 10 minutes of pain left to endure, spotting the buildings in the city centre, they’re getting closer and closer, larger and larger. Nearly home and dry. The climb alongside the A58 up to the Headrow the only challenge left and the marathon grind was still there. I was pushing forwards, my legs trying their absolute best to slow me down, my heart telling them differently. 9k marker down. 1000 to go. The kick started, everyone around me doing the same. Dragging their bodies along. My slowest 400 followed a 1:26 alongside the A58. Hoping I’d enough in the tank to get to the line. A 1:18 when I looked afterwards. Is that my version of a sprint finish? That was it, I’d done it. I had dashed the Abbey Dash in:
A time that would win most local or smaller 10k’s, got me 151st at the Abbey Dash in a field advertised as more than 10,000! A superfast field. One of the fastest 10k’s in the road racing calendar.
Give me a marathon any day, but like I said earlier, you’ve got to do all the stuff in between for you to get better at the marathon.
Just Keep Running!