What would you highlight as some key factors in preparation for a race?
Would it be laying your kit out the night before? Doing the miles and miles worth of training? Nailing that perfect diet plan? Having a massage to loosen and relieve any niggles? Tapering in the process up to the event? Performing a pre race ritual? Wearing a pair of lucky pants? Or your PB trainers. Focusing on a quality warm up? No alcohol in the lead up to the event? Getting that amazing breakfast down your neck? Or would it be something as simple as a good nights sleep?
I’m pretty sure, once in your life, you’ve tried some, if not all of them. I know I have. It’s all an experiment, all the time, trying new things, discovering more and more about myself. What works, what definitely doesn’t work and what might work if complimented by something else. We’re one massive science experiment, one project, that is ourselves. At the minute, races aren’t really races for me, they are events. Part of a long run, no target, no drive for them, reached absolute serenity. Not that I’m content with it all, but you can’t focus on it all year round. Otherwise it consumes you. You’ll run your body to the ground and it’ll hurt. I’ve learnt that in this experiment. At the minute, my body isn’t peaking, it’s maintaining what I’ve hopefully got. Before I go again and drive forward. Focussing at the minute on some sort of recovery process, whilst getting some quality base miles under my belt. With that in mind, my pre race preparation isn’t forefront of my mind. I’m just in the process of normality, nothing extraordinary is happening. The one thing that is key, key to everything is sleep. For the quality recovery, the time to let your muscles relax and the only time my body rests. Sleep. Generally speaking, I’m a good 8 hour a night man. 8 hours does me. It does me enough. Bed for 10.30/11.30 up at 6.30/7.30. Depending on the day. 8 hours is massive. These past couple of weeks now the true darkness of ‘winter’ has set in. I’ve found myself with snotty noses, yet again, colds and shivers, migraines and blurry vision. I’m nowhere near as bad, yet. As years before. So last night when I went to bed, the plan was asleep for 11. Up at 8. Sounds plentiful to me, do plans always work. Not at all, I’ve also learnt that by now. I went to sleep feeling half alright, the best I can be. Having my evening run altered due to the ice rink outside, opting for a run in the gym. A ‘steady’ paced 5 mile in 30 minutes did me enough. Ran alongside Ellie as well, for the second time ever.
I hate treadmills. Got home, had some food, shower and bed. Managed to get comfortable and fell asleep for 11.15 not bad. Tossing and turning, woke up at 1. Glanced at the time on my watch, must’ve dropped back off. Tossing and turning, blocking the little red and green light from the tv using my quilt. Left the Xbox charger plugged in, so an alien light was in the room for the first time in forever! Woke up again around 3.30, glanced at my watch and laid there. Bright eyed and body being stubborn, not happening now. With 4 and half hours until I actually wanted to be up, my head was already up. It was laid there, bright. Ready. Rolled around, had a drink. Laid there. Now began the longest and most frustrating 4 and half hours of recent history. A sniffly nose started to develop, feeling tired and achey around 4.30. Then went for to the toilet for a pee, back to bed. Sore throat comes out of nowhere. Grabbed a Jakemans sweet from the side. Put that in for a bit. Ellie’s laid fast on. 5.30, I’m still here. Like an absolute champ, feeling like I could take on the world. But I’d rather not at the minute. 6.30, what’s the point in actually sleeping now? Glanced at my watch, started counting sheep. Does not work. Sore throat, blocked nose now, drier mouth. Probably a delayed onset from watching the super reds down at Oakwell yesterday in freezing temperatures. 7.15 the magic begins to happen, a yawn and by 7.30 I was in dreamland. My alarm goes off at 8. 4 and half hours later, dragged myself out of bed and clocked a massive amount of 4 hours 10 minutes sleep. So far from my ideal 8 hour. The Garmin technology on my wrist, had me as awake at 3:30 precisely. Frustrated now, todays race hasn’t had the best preparation so far. Decent breakfast down me and left the house for 9.20 ish. Lift through with Mum and Dad, made for an entertaining drive. With Mum, the back seat driver complaining about something. Distracting Dad, who then ran over a squirrel. Clearly blamed my Mum. Got there, out the car, chat with Steve Frith who pulled into the same car park, walked to the pie hall. Saw David Needham, for a quick chat, got my number before I saw Damien, Bryan, Adrian, Jane, Noel, Melvin inside, among plenty other faces. Came out bumped into Shaun, took my trousers off and went for a small jog with the watchless Damien. Bumped into Scott, finished my warm up with him, left the watchless Damien because he was running 4 minute miles. Way too quick! Think he got carried away, came back to the Pie Hall. Got undressed some more, saw plenty more faces again. Hannah, Jack and Shaun spied as well. Quick wee inside, back outside. Stood talking again to David Needham and then mum and dad. Leaving clothes with them, made my way to the start.
3,2,1, enjoy, go! That’s a new one in the official start of a race, the word enjoy! Wonder if it’ll make it as far as the Olympics?
See if you can spot yourself? Quickly out the blocks, missed the race briefing, identified by another runner. Think they did it in the car park I said. Up the road and take a left, quickly set in position. Scott Hinchliffe out in front, Ben Butler, Scott Nutter and me behind. Legs were aching slightly, either from my sleep or the treadmill attempt last night. First sharp climb had already begun, up and up. Me and Scott tried remembering the course on our warm up. We thought we ran out on a different road, by this point we’d just been proven wrong. Climbing up the hill, someone had been kind enough to chalk the meters of pain left the endure on the road. Easy to tick off as we made it along. I sat behind Nutter and Butler at this point, before I then let them go and battle it out between them. Another day I’ll go with. Climbing and climbing, before reaching what you think is the top, to then turn left and roll up some more. Now finding myself on my own really, with no one around to race against. The ‘gladest’ I’ve been all day. Mile 1 and 2 ticked off, dropping back down now. Spotting Jude and Robin on the route supporting.
Dropping down some stuff now, ish. Before hitting the road towards Clayton West for what feels like a momentary bit of down hill. Turning left and thinking to myself, it could be much, much worse. Small flashback to 2017, and my Travellers 6 experience. Struggling and towing myself around. Shivering, coughing and spluttering. The beginning of what I think was my February/ March chest infection. 41:38, 22nd position. Not the best performance. In a much worser condition then, my slowest time on the course, on my 4th attempt there. Today is my 5th.
Right brighten up now. Flew down some more and then, began the second half of climbing. I prefer this bit, you do think to yourself. Once you get to the halfway point, all the climbing is done. But it’s far from it. Climbing up, everything you can see. Thinking you’ve reached the top and turning left to go up some more. To then go right and go up some more, head on into the other runners out on their journey. Oh what have you got to come! Spotted Robin again in the process. Working and grafting. Kicking on and starting my charge. Eventually reaching the top and someone again had been kind enough to chalk the meters to the finish on the road. 2000 to go. 1.2 mile. 7 minutes of hard work, ish. All downhill from here? Glancing in the distance, believing that I could catch Scott Nutter, maybe? Kicking again. Hoping just for a better time for myself. Dropping down and down, small climb, only to drop down and down again. Making the left turn and onto the main road, spying the finish. Head up and trying to go.
Eventually getting there, crossing the line, 4th Place and 35:02. On my watch. My best time on the course, beating my 2016 time of 36:58. When I ran 8.5 mile to the race, ran the race and 9.5 mile home. Didn’t eclipse that today with my lift there, but did manage 10.1 mile on the way home for a steady one, with the HR averaging 124 for 6:48 pace. Not bad. Quick photo with some of the Tunnel Team before I made my way home.
Undulating? The hills, as well as my splits!
In the series of local Christmas events, Ward Green 6 is next weekend. Might run there and back for that? It would be a crime not to! Turns out we won the team prize today as well, team completed by Scott, Me and Shaun. Also Scott claimed first place and a new course record!
Did I just dream all of that?
Just Keep Running!