It’s the end of January, the weather all week has been icey dicey. It’s bleak, it’s grim, it’s cold, it’s winter. It’s the Meltham 10k. What is not to like about this event, 5 mile up hill, 1 mile down. Ish. It’s a challenge, it’s a hill, get over it! Then fly down the other side. I love this event, not because it’s a fast course, but because it signifies the beginning of a new year. A new challenge, a year of running to come. Rounding off the month of January, with all those heavy base miles completed. The kick start of marathon training. The wonderful English weather. I’ve run this race, for every event since 2014. I only started running properly in the middle of 2013 by running the Milton Keynes Marathon. So didn’t quite understand what running was in the early part of 2013.
I managed back in 2014; 42:14, for 17th Place. I remember it being cold, wet and running like a drowned rat. I think the photos say it all.
It didn’t quite manage to put me off of running in 2014 anyway. It definitely didn’t put me off of the Meltham 10k as well. I was back the year after. Clocking 40:32 for 19th place. Sort that running style out lad! Head down, not a clue where I was going. Wasn’t too bad the weather that year. Probably the best one yet.
2016, again I was back. 39:25, 9th Place. My slowest 10k of the year. So things are getting better by now. A bit of a wet one again, but not too bad! Enjoyed it. And a lot of familiar faces in attendance. I enjoyed it. I remember that.
2017, looking again for a challenge, where else would I go, The Meltham 10k of course! 38:30, 11th Place. Again another cold one, perhaps the worst.
Big Bushy Beard time! Looking good? With a bruised bum the whole way round from slipping in the car park on my warm up. The race was a tad painful!
2018, back again, this time approaching in better condition, less ice, windy, rain in patches. New look Gareth for the race this time around, having joined Penistone shortly after the 2017 race. Although having started with a bit of a chesty, cold cough then eventually turned into a chest infection a couple of weeks later. The race didn’t end pretty but a course PB nonetheless! 38:04 for 6th place. Struggling to breathe!
So here I am, back again. Ready to go. Then weather is typical, windy, cold and a tad on the grim side.
The week in build up has been another mileage builder, getting out and clocking them in. Getting through it and getting the job done, track 3k was cancelled on Wednesday night. So meant it was an opportunity to rest and do a bit of an easier run, rather than speedwork! Barnsley Parkrun came around pretty snappy, the 8th birthday event. Woke up feeling fresh, ish, as I can be anyway. Weather wasn’t too shabby on Saturday. Went out, for a quick stick warm up. Arriving in time for the start, despite waking up late! Feeling good, I set off fast, hoping to hold on. Managing to cross the line in 16:41 for a 1 second PB. They all count! Worked the game Saturday, out for another run in the evening. Sunday morning, a lie in was needed. Snoozed the alarm, way too many times! Got up a lot later than needed. 7.45, quickly showered, fed and out the house for 8.30. It’s only a 30 minute drive over the Meltham, made it for around 9. Parked on the estates, not on the race course. Frowned upon by the organisers. Quickly leaping out the car, off to get my number. Spotting as many Penistone or familiar runners as I can. The first being Martin Ball. Got my number on my vest whilst chatting to him, then off I went for a warm up. Another shotgun 1.5 mile, feels like a Saturday all over again! Back to the car, stripping off. Decisions. To wear a t shirt or not to wear a t shirt. Underneath my vest that is. I went for the T Shirt, regretted it later. Too hot! Team Barnsley Buff on as well. Made my way back to the start, feeling over dressed!
Some start line chit chat, and pre race banter flying around. Earphones, cars with engines running and rascal shoes. The usual stuff. Having a look around, a few faces I recognise from a variety of stuff. The only real target for me here today, is to set a course PB. To hold me in a good frame of mind for the year to come. Also to keep my progress graph moving on up! Get up the climbs and hopefully fly down the other side, on my warm up, anticipated a bit of a headwind to begin with for the first 5k or so and hopefully turn into a tail wind for the second half. Didn’t wanna loose too much energy too early on and burn out, then! Before I knew it, we was off, overheating and warm. A tad overdressed? Out on the drive, getting ready to make all the climb that is to come. Feeling fresh and the race underway. Dropping down before making the sharp right uphill turn. Every year there is a bus pulling us up the hill, must’ve timed it better this year. No bus! Eventually got to the top road, a glance around me, expecting a pack of runners. Myself and a lad from Holmfirth had gone off in front, no one else around. Not that I could see anyway. Flying on the top road with a brief tailwind, just for a moment. Making it feel easy, right before the real climb begins. Then the first climb begins, a marshall announces to us, you’re going up there lads. Emphasis on UP! Calves beginning to work. Head up and moving on up, as the course begins to sweep. Trying to pick my head up even more just to admire what is around, the picturesque environment that we find ourselves in. However we are truly embraced in the run, the challenge of the run. Breathing begins to go deeper and deeper, louder and louder as we hit the top or what feels like the top of the first climb. Giving our first opportunity to look ahead and look around. On a long country road that dips down and rises again. Wind pushing against us now. Not working with us anymore. The thinking process in myself, why the hell am I doing this. Why do we do this. Why do we get up early on a Sunday morning, take an adventure somewhere. Lace up our running shoes and toe the line. Knowing that I don’t really need to answer that. Just as we take a left turn and begin to hit some gentle, progressing eventually into a steep down hill drop. Now finding myself making some distance on the lad from Holmfirth, not knowing to myself whether it’s the wind that has made it feel like it’s a distance or whether it is the fact I’ve actually made up some distance. A guy in a car let me know the actual distance, about 30 metres on him lad, and stretching it further. As we go pass The Bulls Head Pub meat Blackmoorfoot Reservoir. Again got another climb to do. Looking ahead, this is the one that feels like the longest. Pace begins to slow, taking it in my minimal stride. Moving on up! A glance left knowing that there is a shortcut down that lane, the pain could be over a little bit quicker. But you’re only cheating yourself! Working hard and digging in. Knowing that I’ve one more iconic and memorable landmark to go. A small bridge crossing The Brindley Brook at the bottom, in previous years I’ve run through there and there has been water up to our knees, ice covering the path so heavily gritted but too stubborn to budge. Just a tiny little bridge on our challenge about 3/4 of a mile before we reach the peak of our descent back to Meltham. We reached the bridge quicker than I anticipated. Making the race feel as though it had gone quick and I hadn’t quite gone my monies worth. Now all that was left to do was drop down into Meltham and get myself across the line. The same guy in the car came pass me again, 100 metres now lad. Stretching it. Hitting the top of the climb with a bit of confidence and ready to loosen off and let fly. Rollercoaster down into Meltham. Letting my legs go, trying my best to run fearless. Fearless of falling, hurting myself, fearless of pain or given any notion of worry. It’s a big drop, Strava says -379ft in that single mile. It’s quick and it’s long. Striding out and going for it. Reaching the roundabout at the bottom of the descent to make the hardest climb yet after all of that. Only a measly 400m’s left to run to the finish. Easy!
Managing to hold on in there to cross the line in 36:06. For 1st place. My best performance at the Meltham 10k by 2 minutes or so. A course PB on a chillingly windy day.
Can’t really decipher any of my splits, impossible to run an even split at this event. Loved the challenge, loved the run, loved the Meltham 10k! Will it put me off running in 2019. Definitely not. Will I be back next year, definitely so.
Marathon training is now well and truly underway. Miles are heavy and cold. Legs are tired and achey. We’re getting the job done, one step at a time.
Just Keep Running!