The miles are coming now. Each mile, leading into the next. The mileage has been upped and feeling back to some what comfortable, reflecting my shape from early 2017. Run after run, step after step. Need to keep ticking over and running happy. Then we’ll see where I end up in the end!
After Liversedge Half I didn’t have a race for the weekend following. I raced the track 10k midweek, didn’t feel too fresh after a long day at work. Although managed a 33:41 for a new track PB, legs were tight come Saturday and still recovering from Liversedge’s Hills! Sky TV were filming at Parkrun for Katie Lee, so the course was busy and people brought their A game! Scott looked in fine form, knowing he was going for it. Knowing he’s at least 30 seconds better than me over a 5k, and my PB from the week before was now sitting at 16:28. Whatever he ran it would’ve landed him close to the course record. He set off quick, I aimed to hold on for as long as I could. Dropping 6 seconds behind him on the first lap, his form continued and his pace didn’t slow as I let him go. Chasing him around the best I could, fatigue took the better of me. He managed to hold out and cross the line in 15:55. 1 seconds taken off the course record that has stood since Parkrun Number 1 at Barnsley! That’s an 8 year record on a course that has been run 423 times before! By 6,833 runners and 59,221by all those runners.
Leaving me with absolutely no doubt in my mind that he’ll only get faster and faster, taking more chunks off as he goes. Also leaving me, and I hope many more, believing that they themselves can also get faster and faster!
Sunday came around and I had a chat with Gary Briscoe at the track on Wednesday night about running the marathon mileage, in one go, in training. I knew that I could quite comfortably run that over two runs in a day. But with the nice weather out and the sun shining, next to no breeze. I wanted to do the same as well at the weekend, Gary went out early in the morning on Sunday. Too early for me, so a solo effort was required. Lacing up my shoes and off I went. I was aiming to run up to Ingbirchworth, do a loop and run back down. Felt completely comfortable and confident with what I was doing and how I was going about it. It was a confidence boosting run, after all! 2000ft of climb later and 26.2 miles, taking in the climb up Hoylandswaine Hill and I was home. 2:56:03. In 2014 I couldn’t have run quicker than that in a race, never mind a training run! It’s amazing to take some time to reflect just how far you may have come. Not reflect on how far you’ve actually go to go.
Felt strong going into the week and full of confidence and then Thursday hit, a long 14 hour working day. With breaks in between, leaving me waking up on Friday morning with the start of a sniffle and cold. Not good. Body aching, shivering, wrapping up warm by the time the evening came around. Only 10 mile to do on Friday. Nurturing myself through it. Parkrun came around, I was hoping to go into it feeling fresh. Quite far off that. Tired. Achey and sniffly. A minutes round of applause before the run for Storming Norman who had a fight with cancer, a fellow Penistone runner, having recently completed his 250th Parkrun and being 83 year old, so I wouldn’t say he lost his fight, he won. The fast lads had turned out for Parkrun as well, just so happened to be Scott’s 100th run as well. Managing myself to get around in 17:03. Couple of hours at work and then a long dinner break, so ran up home and got some dinner; vapour rub all over my moustache left over from Parkrun! Pushed it on the way home, a little bit in punishment for getting this sniffle in the first place! Went out for tea for my Mums birthday on Saturday night. Snot running out of my nose like a dripping tap, constantly dabbing it with the full toilet roll I had stuff in my jacket pocket. Keeping it classy! I wasn’t expecting much Sunday at the Norton 9. I glanced at my previous run here in 2017; 52:09. In honesty didn’t think I’d have the energy to be anywhere near that. Didn’t think my head would’ve been in it, at all!
Woke up Sunday, feeling cold, like my head was under water. Setting off to the race and making it to the field opposite the school where you collect the number just after 9. Leaving the car in just my t shirt, goosebumps, cold and shivering again. Getting my number, pinning it on my shirt and thinking, why the hell am I doing this? Off on my warm up, my god I needed that. Sweating and eventually feeling somewhat normal. Seeing my Mum and Dad, passing them some vapour rub and my vest. Another lap of the block and meeting them near the start line. Long top off and vest on, vapour rub all over my chest, moustache, beard and vest! Sticking my Jakemans in. Sending them away on their way to get in a better position to watch the start. Stood talking to people now around the start and moving around, trying to keep warm, then we make our way up the road to the line. We’ll be running back down here in a minute or two. Getting myself on the line and then my head changed. Number on my vest, Penistone on my back. Remembering just exactly who I’m representing. All of those runners that have worn the vest with pride, those Norman’s or Gary’s that no longer can. Those people that just go out and enjoy running for the most simplest form, putting one foot in front of the other. The plan as I put my toe on the spray painted line, run hard and that’s all I can do. Keith Binney waving around his gun as he shouts some instructions in his casual fashion.
Then we were off. Kicking out of the pack and away we go. A fast down hill start and sweeping left. Legs feeling fresh and loose. I made my way out and began chasing the lead car. Head held up. Sweeping left, ‘first climb over’ said a marshal. Glancing in the field towards the finish. Not yet. Out on the country roads as we sweep ourselves around them. First mile done as a I glanced at the lead car, not once looking at my watch. 5:01. I knew in my head from a quick calculation that 5:30 pace was 49:30. Now that would be a dream today for me! I didn’t think that I had the minerals. But going off the first mile, you never know! Kicking and feeling like I’m almost gliding. First time for everything. Just running, working hard and doing the best I can. Today. From running the course before, I knew the climb was coming around mile 4 ish. And again at mile 7.5 ish. Before a fast down hill finish. Until then I was going to sit in and enjoy whatever I could. The second half of the course obviously raising some obstacles. So anticipating myself to drop the pace when the time comes and combat the climbs, to fly down, hopefully, the other side! First water station came pretty quick. Thanking them but going on ahead. Not taking any water on board today. Going through Womersley and contending with a bit of traffic, waving them on by. Navigating around the course. Not glancing behind, only looking in front. Going through 4.5 mile in 24:30. Knowing that gives me 25 minutes for the second half. As the climbs begin. Focussing on them one at a time, they didn’t feel particularly long. Just sharp rises. It is a pretty flat country around here anyway, in comparison to good old Barnsley that is! Paced dropped but the effort didn’t. Working just as hard, if not twice as hard for it. Looking on ahead still. Recognising bits in the process. Running. Just running. Glancing onwards, seeing the final climb that lay ahead. Knowing that from here, it’s all down hill. Not knowing who is behind or how far. But knowing the calibre of runner potentially hot on my heels. In the form of Phil Skelton, Joe Powell and Tom Halloway. Stewart Knowles, Simon Newton and Steve Lowe. Michael Sprot, Stuart Wilson and Stuart Carrack. All runners I had recognised at the start, all runners that have beaten me in the past. On the down hill now. Now beginning to fly, in the last mile. At the top of it all, the highest point on the course. Going for it now. Norton not so far in the distance, targeting street lamps and sign posts. Ticking off the steps and getting me closer to that line. 4 minutes of hard work left to go. Not long at all!
Reaching the hill that was earlier called the first hill, it was now the last. Turning right and making our way into the field. To cross the line in:
A course PB for me, a 9 mile PB. Because it’s the only 9 mile race around here! Also looking afterwards and noticing it is also a club record. The race had now stopped, a small coughing fit proceeded. Then off I went for a bit of a cool down and some extras.
Racing heavy for the next few weeks, so we’ll see how they all go as we approach April. The main thing though, enjoy it, run happy, run hard and leave everything you’ve got out there.
Just Keep Running!