Another one of those always runs. A race that’s a permanent feature in the calendar, it’s fast, it’s flat, it’s a fast field, it’s cheap enough, it’s local enough, it’s friendly enough, it’s organisation is good enough, it’s simple enough. You know what you’re going to get with the Dewsbury 10k, an out and back course with the scenic surroundings of Dewsbury. Not much to look at, but you don’t really need to. All you need to do is look ahead and get the job done. It’s a true PB course, up there with the fastest of fast. The Salford 10k, The Abbey Dash, The Trafford 10k, to name a few!
It’s another one of those races that every time I’ve wore the bib on my front, I’ve set at least at bare minimum a course PB. As well as a PB for the time, starting with my:
- 39:00 in 2014
- 37:22 in 2015
- 37:12 in 2016
- 34:48 in 2017, and it was long!
- 33:58 in 2018
The promising stat as well, is I’ve gone on to beat it later in the year at some time or some place. Anyway, enough of the boring stats!
Dewsbury this year was lining up to be somewhat of a showdown with a large contingent turning up from the speedwork team and the Briscoe rivalry bubbling! Fast times were promised and would definitely be chased with clear targets set. The day though would shape up to be something much more than that, something higher, simpler but at the same time something a whole world more complex.
The week again in approaching the Dewsbury 10k has been icey, cold and busy. With a full working week, runs either side of my working day and sometimes in the middle of my day. Fitting it in whenever and wherever I can, finding the challenge in getting out in my lunch break, running as fast as I can, whilst keeping in sensible, to get as many miles in as possible. We was back at the tunnel again on Wednesday night, getting the speed tuning in and a decent workout. Felt a little sluggish but I’ll blame how cold it was, although it was like a summers day in the tunnel! Parkrun around on Saturday, surprised actually that it went ahead. Hats off to the organisers on the day for working hard to get it gritted. Took it steady around there in comparison to my previous week. Worked all day Saturday and out for another wrapped up run in the evening, got in bed in good time. Slept very little, ah well. Sleeping is cheating. Ellie has had a cold all week, surprised I haven’t caught it yet in honesty. The plan for Sunday, wake up at 6.30. Hopefully. In reality, got up at 7, after four hundred million alarms. Breakfast thrown down me, quick shower to wake me up and was out the house by 7.45. From experience 25 minutes to get to Dewsbury straight onto the M1 and thats half the job done. Did quite well though. Either had a lead foot or bet any other time to get to Dewsbury and made it by 8.05. I always park near Wickes in the retail park, didn’t make it in time for the ‘free’ parking so dumped the car in Mecca Bingo and paid £4. Car temperature fluctuated all the way from -2 to -6 in patches on the motorway, wasn’t shaping up to be an heatwave. Reluctantly got out of the car, went to the leisure centre for a quick emergency pee. Then off for a small warm up/ wake up. Found myself running circles around the car park for a while. Then complained that it was too cold to Charlie and Henry, questioned why we run to Kerry and went back to the car to consider wearing some layers or running in joggers. Instead opted for a Team Barnsley buff and wore a mucky white Ackworth Half Marathon T Shirt over the top to throw away at the start, if it was there when I finished, bonus. Made my way to the start with Scott, talking about targets and motivating each other to run faster in some way! On some dual carriageway now, in Dewsbury, on a sunday morning in -2, why do we do this to ourselves? Counting down the moments to taking off our layers, opting to leave my buff on initially, that was until we made our way into the little sun. Feeling it on the back of my neck, to momentarily turn away and throw it on the tree. Following Scott as we beat our way through the crowd at the start, making our way to the sharp point. A moment now, stood on the line, trying my best to focus and get in the zone, glacning around and seeing face after face. Runners, people, that I’ve shared experiences with and moments with. All toeing the line on a cold Sunday morning. Whether its Scott Harrington, from my distance chasing conquests. Jonathan Walton, highlighted at Hull and York last year. Stephen Maddison, or the man in the orange hat, from every race in history. Gary and Damien Briscoe from the brotherly rivarly, Charlie and Henry Skipper from opposite ends of the spectrum. Andrew Grant, the fast lad formerly of Harrogate. Kieron Reed, an ever improving but still learning runner, easily capable of a sub 35. Rich Spooner, Alan Ford and Paul Johnson, who were all targets in my early years of running. Julie Briscoe, a top class local and international runner in her own right who lives around the corner with achievements a plenty. Ben Butler who I’ve raced against many of times. Mike Potter who I met in the middle of the night before I started a lap of the endure 24. Scott Hinchcliffe, from all the miles and experiences I’ve shared with him through the simple form of putting one foot in front of the other. Martin James, MR Doncaster also a man who has ran the 200 mile across Britain, something I hope to do. Simon Newton another distance man from his knowledgeable conversations, experience and advice a massive respecter of the marathon. Steve Head, who I jumped out in front of at the Vale of York Half a couple of years ago after I stopped for a pee. Stuart Wilson, who I got a lift with the same year. Fiona Davies hanging around, another top class runner, who again along with Mark Havenhand was an early target of mine. Bryan Harrod, the man of motivation, praise and encouragement for everyone, the face of Team Barnsley. I literally could go on forever!
Making our way forwards to toe the line, on the sound of the klaxon we was off. Sweeping our way under the bridge, feeling good on the set off. I did a bit of a Damien and set off a little quick finding myself out in front just after the bridge. Thinking why is everyone else going so slow, hoping that someone would pass me, knowing just was caliber of runner is on my shoulder. Leading for the first half a mile with me splitting them in 1:12 and 1:15 for the 400.
Before I knew it they came through like a train in the form of Arron Larkin, Scott Hinchcliffe, Joe Sagar and Chris Parr. Finding myself working a little too hard to hitch on the back of the ride. Deciding it would be in my best interests and more achievable to drop off and run my own race; whether it be on my own or as part of a train. Hands were beginning to get cold, feeling like they were swelling, pulsating and rock hard to touch. Frostbite, maybe? The first mile was done, pretty sharp and on pace for where I want to be. Slightly uphill on the way out, so more than likely to run a negative split here as well. 5:01. Working hard whilst running in the shade of the buildings, wishing I was somewhere in the middle of a field, basking in the glorious sunshine or on some trail blazing through it.
Head beginning to get distracted focusing on something else other than the running. Head up again. Pace had slowed in my pocket on my own, glancing onward and ever so slightly upwards. Quick calculation in my head, I needed to get through the half way turn at 16:30 to even give me a chance of breaking the lucrative sub 33 that I wanted. What a genius I am? 7:45 and I had just split for 1.5 mile. Still having sight of the lead vehicle, not needing to look at my watch. Seeing Scott in the leading pack with the words Penistone on his back. Knowing those words are on my back as well, they’re on Gary’s back and Damien’s, Charlie’s and Kieron’s, Martin’s, Hannah’s, Rob’s. Runners that are chasing, all chasing a goal. A goal to justify all those hours out in the rain, sun, ice, wind. A mutual alignment of the words on our backs. Likewise them goals, that drive is in us all, whether you’re a Penistone athlete or not. Feeling a tad overwhelmed, I gritted my teeth and battled on up. Feeling a small twinge in my calf, definitely due to the cold. Breaking into some sun, well kind of. Counting down those all important KM markers to the turn. Seeing the water station and Scott make the turn, knowing I had seconds of pain left to endure. Adamant that after the turn that was it, it was all easy after that. 16:20 I made the turn. 10 seconds in my pocket. Head up and sun in my eyes, hearing shouts galore. Looking for the faces, struggling. Wind at my back, feeling in my fingers returned. Team Barnsley, Penistone, Gareth, Just Keep Running. Wincing and placing one step in front of the other, hopefully a little faster than I have done ever before. My 400 splits on the watch had dipped back under the 1:20 mark, hitting 1:19 on the turn, exactly on pace for where I wanted to be, but I didn’t want to be where I wanted to be anymore. I wanted to at least be better. Bare Minimum standard, be better. I kicked and kicked, picking it up to try and run as close to a 5 minute mile as I ever thought possible. Just imagining I’m downhill running in Meltham. Picking up my pace to a 1:17 for the next 400 split. Not many of them left to go. Trying to find that speedy gear that isn’t natural to me, as we head back towards Dewsbury. Hoping and dreaming for the bridge, knowing its only 20 steps from the bridge until the finish. Are we nearly there yet? 10k’s now a days feel too short usually but only when I’ve finished! Way out of my comfort zone running like this. Eventually seeing my first landmark on route, Damien Briscoe’s pretty little face willing me into the finish, tagging on the back of me for a while. But his hamstring had gone leading to him dropping out. About a mile out now. Working hard for it. It never ever gets any easier. Looking ahead, seeing the overhead bridge and knowing the finish line is just around there. Knowing everything was in my hands now.
Getting overtaken just under the bridge for the first time in a while. But today wasn’t about that. I came for what I wanted to achieve and did exactly that 32:39. Blowing my previous best of 33:26, set at the Abbey Dash in November, out of the water by 47 seconds. For 8th place.
Blowing my first ever 10k at the flat Rother Valley of 43:04 away, showing an improvement on my Dewsbury 2018 time by 1 minute and 20 seconds. Likewise my 5 year improvement from 39 minutes way back in 2014. But in all of that time I’ve managed to shave 47 seconds off in one hit. Over the moon.
As I said at the beginning, Dewsbury was shaping up to be a showdown, but it did turn out to be much more than that. I’ll tell you why, just why we or I, do it to ourselves. Highlighted to me all the way through the race, the event and the people today. Constant battle of self improvement, belief and achievement. We take ourselves out of our warm beds into the cold wintery days chasing the dreams, making them a reality. The sense of what is ideal and what we want to achieve, putting all of our hard work down on the ground. The months of determination, the battle with motivation, the dips and troughs with performance after performance. The lowest of moments, taking it to the highest you’ll ever even imagine. Whether it was the people that was there, or whether it was the sense of achievement, reinforcing all of the training. Looking around the finish line, seeing the jubilation when people cross it, when the running clubs speak to each other, sharing their accomplishments, seeing the tears of joy and happiness of that all important PB. Whether its the best time you’ve run in years or whether its the best time you’ve ever run, the feeling is just the same. We’re all on the same page, all going somewhere to where we will eventually end up and its wonderful that it is shared with so many of us at the same time. But it just goes to show that hard work beats talent. Am I satisfied with my time? Not quite, not just yet.
…Just Keep Running!
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