Not rare I can say this.
I’ve never done this particular race. With it being in York, a place I hold a soft spot for and come to enjoy my time here in recent years; the brass monkey has always been on my to do list. But it’s apparently a good race, so it always sells out before I even wake up! I managed though to get myself and Scott Harrington, a rapid lad from Otley, over the line for the 2019 race sometime in October. That’s the first part of the race won, securing entry! November and December was a couple of months full of local races, Cross countries and 10k’s. Nothing longer completed after Snowdonia, so the Brass Monkey was my first longer race since I graced the welsh hills. It would be a great benchmark at the beginning of the spring marathon training and gives a nice little target over the Christmas period. In 2018 I only managed to race 4 Half Marathons, massively down on my 12 in 2017 and my massive 16 in 2016! Feeling fresher though in 2018, it meant I could actually target half marathons, rather than just running them as a long run, and work on getting my PB down, managing a 73:27 at the Vale of York after loosing a bit of weight over the summer. 2019 goal is to PB over the distance and hopefully log a few more half marathons, a distance that I particularly love! You can race at suicide pace, without the risk of blowing up, it doesn’t quite find you out like a marathon does in the final few miles. I’m no speed demon and takes me a 10k to get warmed up, so the Half is the perfect opportunity to get the legs ticking.
Over Christmas I had a bit of fatigue building up, which isn’t surprising since I ran 500 miles for the month of December, my highest month of 2018. The legs were starting the feel it a little bit. Speed wasn’t completely gone, but the confidence to turn speed out was almost evaporated. Having been bubbling up for a good few months. Come New Years Day I surprised myself with a16:53 around Barnsley and then a fast Parkrun at Nostell in comparison the the field and course, chicanes! So the following Saturday, confidence in some sort of speed, might actually be possible, setting off comfortable and managing to PB at Barnsley Parkrun for a 16:42. Cracking start to 2019! Speedwork skipped in the week building up to the Brass Monkey and opted for the 5k Winter Track Series at Dorothy Hyman. Cracking race, organised by local legend Keith Binney. Free to run if you’re a BPL member. £3.20 I think if you aren’t! Cheap as chips, just the way we like it. A few fast faces on the start line in the ‘A Race’ Scott Hinchcliffe, Scott Nutter, Tom Halloway, Kai Sunman, to name a few. Backed up by the ever improving Gary Briscoe and his rival Damien Briscoe. Charlie Skipper, Josh Bird and Stuart Wilson also toeing the line, all on their day capable of a sub 17 on the track. I believe! It looked like it had the makings of a fantastic race between a bunch of local runners.
We set off relatively slow, bunching ourselves together. Ready to grind out the 12.5 laps for the 5k. Soon forming a bit of a group at the front, with the Two Scott’s, Tom and Me. I was feeling fresh and confident after my Parkrun PB the previous Saturday. Never breaking the 16:30 mark on the track. I had that much confidence that I believed I could break the 16 barrier today. Counting down the laps and not actually knowing the splits. Until I bothered to figure it out mathematically in my head with around 2 laps to go. Tom dropped off the pace, leaving me with the titans. As paced started to pick up, as we go round and round. I settled my pace, leaving them to go. In hindsight, wish I had held on for at least one more lap. Managing to cross the line in 16:08. A Track PB. On another day, I may have broken the 16 barrier, just maybe! But look at all those PB’s!
I began to slow things down after that, a little in anticipation of the Brass Monkey and a little because it had caught with me and I needed to slow for a couple of days at least. Still kept the mileage high, should hopefully hit a 120 mile week after Sunday. Which is great base mileage as I approach the start of marathon training. With some tempo runs and marathon workouts starting soon, if I can be bothered!
Anyway onto the Brass Monkey. Starting watching the Luther series, so when I want to go to sleep I can’t take my eyes off of the TV. Not good, usually it turns off on itself at night. But I can’t wait for it to happen, so have to physically turn it off otherwise sleep wouldn’t happen and I’d just binge watch it all night. So sleep came around midnight, and alarm was set of 7.15 to set off to York at 8.15 ish. Woke up at 7.15, didn’t wanna get up, laid there with Ellie, somehow managing to wake her up in the process. She had her long awaited call up to the Barnsley Ladies first team and is playing away at Morecambe today. So I’m guessing she didn’t want to be woken so early! It definitely is all of that running I’ve got her in to. It’s helped the process, she managed a Parkrun last weekend in 23:42, running with Hannah Butcher. To finish 2nd and 3rd lady between them. Not bad for Ellie’s first Parkrun. Anyway got out of bed around 7.45, quick shower, threw some breakfast down me and was out the house around 8.25. Broadway was shut, didn’t find out until I got there. There had been a crash in the early hours and saddens me to find out a 16 year old girl as died in the process. Not good. Life is precious! Quick detour and spied by David Lee and Katie Lee logging some Sunday miles, I do have a car. I use it sometimes, although since the 1st of December I’ve only done 350 miles in it, with work being quiet! Logging around 700 miles on my feet.
Managed to get to the racecourse in York just after 9.10. Not bad. Quickly stripped down to my shorts and made a run to find the toilets before embarking on my warm up. Some toilet queue chit chat with a runner from Sunderland who was targeting the 1:30 mark. Trying to workout the direction of the wind on the route. Soon found out it was all bloody over!
Quick shotgun warm up and made my way to the starting pen, spying Simon Newton, Simon Lambert, Steve Melber in the process, more chit chat and made my way to the front. Where I spotted Scott Harrington. More chat with him before we was led around to the start line on the main road, just outside the entrance to the car park. Right by the lamppost! The wind did not feel nice. Bit of a run brief, an early 3,2,1 joke and then we was off, I set off quick. Soon finding myself leading the Brass Monkey. Ooops, I’ve done a Damien. I tried to settle to pace, but my pace didn’t need settling. It was comfortable and I was on pace eventually for what I actually wanted. And that was a 5:30 paced run! Everyone else I think was just scared to take point, direct into the wind! Rightly so. I was soon passed and took my place in the pack, a well formed pack for the first couple of mile. Until the wind fragmented us, splitting into a pack at the front and a pack at the back. The pace we was running felt too quick, it felt uncomfortable and I was running on the top of people. I steadied myself down and dropped off of the pack. Leaving myself in a comfortable pocket on my own, but now running my own race and battling it out in the wind. I was feeling good but wasting energy on my own, clocking the miles and being blown side to side by the cross wind. As I take the racing line pushing me ever so slightly off of balance onto the grass verge. Not the best experience. Making our way through mile 4 and onto the muddy country roads, still in the pocket on my own. A glance at my 400 splits flashing up on my watch telling me I’m going through them in roughly 1:22’s. On pace and all I’m doing is running! Into mile 5 and on the open road, glancing around, no shelter. Just open, sitting in and just hoping I can get through it. Then my race changed for the better, I was passed by two runners, finally! So I tagged onto the back of them, so I could sit in and hopefully conserve some energy for a few miles as we battled in the wind. Before I knew it we was at the Half Way clock, glancing over at it telling me I’d gone through half way in 36:02. Giving me 37 minutes for the 2nd half, just to scrape a PB. Then the dream happened, I turned a corner and the traffic marshal says, ‘No more wind now lads, it’s all yours in the 2nd half.’ I trusted him and went for it, passing the two lads I’d been sitting in with and picked up the pace. Using the wind at my back to navigate me closer to the line. Changing my race for the better, putting me back in control, rather than the elements. Spying the leaders in front, and Scott Harrington battling it out a couple of positions in front of me. I was adamant that I had it in me to make some distance on them, getting myself as close as possible before the line. Head up and shoulders back, focused and driving forward. Back on the road we ran out on, seeing the mile 10 marker and knowing that there was at most 20 minutes of hard work to go. A game of counting had begun, hearing every 400 meter split on my watch and calling it another minute down. Another minute closer to the line. On the start a few runners were saying it was a ‘proper’ drag in the second half, I was waiting for the drag to happen. I was content and running. Back through Bishopthorpe, just over a mile to go, 8 minutes of hard work. Getting myself closer and closer to the guys in front, joined in my chase by James Meader from Heaton Harriers, one of the runners I was previously sitting in behind around the halfway mark. A bit of constructive motivation and carrying ourselves to the finish. The Ebor Stand in sight. 800m’s to go, 2 and half minutes max. 400m’s to go. Just got to get through it out. Left into the car park, the wall of wind hit, smashing the body to a momentary standstill. Making my way around the bend and crossing the line eventually in:
A New PB! With all the wind and the miles in my legs. Trumping my 73:27 at the Vale of York. A run forward in the right direction. Managed to cross the line in 9th place, out of just over 1500 runners. Turns out as well that it is a new club record, beating Mike Senior’s, senior category record of 72:56 from 1988, before I was even born and Keith Davis’ overall record of 72:29 from 1994, when I was only 5 months old!
With January being quiet for racing it gives me a great chance to recover and prepare myself for a big few months whilst I approach April’s marathon efforts. We’ll see what happens going forward.
Just Keep Running!