The Facebook advertising campaign hooked me in didn’t it! The more I scrolled down my timeline, the more it appeared. Promising scenic views, a flat course and plenty of support. Two out of three ain’t bad! I’ll let you guess which yourself.
The week in build up as been my holiday, my break from working life and getaway from it all with Ellie. Nice and I’d like to say relaxing but you know how it is, I’m a runner. Too difficult to resist the urge to lace up my trainers and get out for an exploration. Staying within the Shropshire Hills, no run felt easy, no run was short either. A shock to the system and a kick up back side, difference and change. The only regret that it didn’t last longer, finding it sweet and perfect; no internet, no phone signal. Black Hall Lodges if anyone is interested, having our own hot tub and sauna built into the lodge. Not much to do, but get out and find out, find your own path and your own place. Most importantly though; just some quality time with Ellie, better book somewhere else…
Got back Friday, long day driving, split with a shopping trip at Cheshire Oaks. Buying again another pair of shoes. Can’t help it! Leg loosener in the evening was needed, still feeling leggy and heavy for the Parkrun on Saturday though. Dragging myself round, in the humid sticky conditions. Bit of a cool down, after chatting with Ian and Jane. No work on a Saturday for once. But out with the work lot to celebrate the end of an academic year in the afternoon. We’ll be straight into Soccer Camps on Monday though. Out for a leg stretch again in the evening.
The plan anyway for Sunday, wake up and set off around 7.30. The race starts at 10, it’s about an hour, maybe longer to Grimsby. Gary Briscoe was also planning on the race, although he’d not entered, he was planning on entering on the day. So he’d set off much earlier than me! I set off around 7.40 anyway, got there around 8.50. Parking in the shopping centre, quickly getting changed from my comfortable clothes at the boot, into my racing clothes. Off for a pre race jog around, see the sights, find a toilet! Quickly finding the ‘Race HQ,’ toilets and a large crowd of people gathering. Tend to stay away from busy city centre 10k’s lately, I see the attraction, but they just don’t tickle my fancy. They’re usually overpriced and don’t lend themselves to fast times, this one does though. In a way, from looking at the previous results! I haven’t really raced 10k much this year; choosing Dewsbury and Salford in the early part of the year, Dewsbury in the build up to the marathons, Salford the week or so after Manchester. Never thought of myself as ‘fast’ enough to get my 10k times to where I want them to be, especially with the lack of 10k specific training. Quick pee in the portaloo, seeing plenty of the Barnsley contingent out and about today. Off for the rest of my pre race jog around, finding flat roads and paths, far from the Hills of Shropshire now! Back to the race hustle and bustle, loud and busy! Weaving my way to the start area, bumping into many faces for a quick chat before finding myself on the front row, stood with Dan Kestrel and Gary Briscoe, got himself a number! Chatting, targeting, aspiring, planning. The clear target for me run a Personal Best, quicker than my 32:39 from Dewsbury or don’t bother trying. I knew really, I’d be close. Just how close, I knew the pace I had to run, and just exactly how fast. It would be a squeeze. Gary’s Plan was a Personal Best, with the aim hopefully of 33:30. Dan’s plan, a Personal best. Bottom line, our targets were high, they were ambitious, they were aiming to be better than anything we’d run before, knowing really that it isn’t our ‘PB’ course, it may not be our ‘time.’ But we’ll definitely get out and have a go! Shaun Fisher, Mark Graham, Martin Swift. Everyone I chatted to on the way to the line, all said the same. They were unsure, hesitant, but all aspiring and conjuring a plan of attack. Motivated and driven, enough, anyway! The count down had begun, the momentum was building up.
Then we were off, out the blocks, sharp right and onto the long drag straight away. A lead group had formed out in front, the lead car hadn’t started the clock so that was wrong, I was just a little slower than the lead group, a little slower than Dan. Sitting behind in a small pocket, glance over my shoulder, listening for the following claps behind the ones for us. Long pause, not good! This could be a very long time trial, a mental battle. Dan left and went with the lead group, I didn’t have the legs today. First 400 metre beeped on 1:16. The lead car clock was switched on. Just over a minute out, something to remember for the mad dash to the finish line! 1:16, around 5:04/05 pace, dreaming of where I want to be, slowed down and steadied, got into my rhythm. On my own. A 1:19, 400, followed. A bit better. Knowing now though, a PB today would be a drag, it would be a give everything you’ve got. It was getting warm, it was getting tougher and tougher, the hills had probably caught up with me a little! I had to run smart and conserve enough for the second half. See if I had enough left, but give me just enough chance to hold the pace for a Personal Best. 5:09 for the first mile, the second mile felt much tougher. The course rises for the first 2 mile from looking at the profile and then flows gradually back ‘downhill’ for the following 4 mile. I say climbs, its only slight, slight enough that really you probably don’t feel it. On the other hand, you might and it might be like an absolute mountain! Still in the pocket on my own, hoping someone would either catch me, or I’d eventually catch the guys in front. It wouldn’t be through speed, it would be more from grit and endurance! Clocking on, reaching the downhill eventually, as we broke out of the built up houses, out onto some more open roads and wider roads. Lonely roads, the end appearing as a mirage out in front. Somewhere in the distance, somewhere we’ll eventually reach. Or will we. No sight of when.
5k down in 16:12
Not bad, gives me a complex mathematical equation. 32:24, magic. Hold on now, although loosing that quick start, hopefully transferred into a sprint finish instead. I say hopefully! The race now had taken a turn, it had truly become a time trial for me, as we began our endeavour on the ‘Peaks Parkway,’ a long bypass drag. Likened to the Goldthorpe bypass or Hemsworth, just with less things surrounding it. Driving on, with the heat building. The races ‘mad mile’ began just after the 4 mile marker, a manufactured motivational tool to kick you on, in your charge! Nothing mad about it really, it was a boring section, possibly added to spice things up a little bit. Mad mile time of 5:18 for me, fairly consistent with the rest of my performace. It did ‘measure’ a little bit long anyway. Into the final mile now, hoping for some of the built up area to jump out straight onto us. A distraction tool that is needed right now. Looking for the left turn leading us into the park, seeing the mirage finally coming to an end. Switching off the road, hearing the noise of the park. Glancing ahead, watch still going, time going too fast, legs going too slow. 400 metres to go, seeing my watch on 31:55, knowing a 45 second 400 would get me a PB, world record pace? Tried to pick it up and kick, but really it was all lost already. I’d have a go though, the clock kept ticking. Coming into the park the clock fooled me, then I remembered it was wrong! Ran onto the grass, over the line.
Just over 3000 finishers, not bad. Then I stopped and turned, waited and looked for Gary, hoping he’d got his target. Crossing himself in 10th place, rubbing shoulders with two quality runners in Gareth Sampson and Rob Weekes. 33:40, although he didn’t know it at the time, due to his iWatch and race clock error, a Personal Best not to be shrugged at but not quite want he wanted, at the beginning of the day he would’ve been happy with the time he got. Dan was just in front of me in 32:09. Behind his PB of 31:19. All relative to the individual, I’d have bitten Dan’s arm off and probably my own for the time he got today, Gary would have probably bitten mine off and his own for the time I got today. Marginal, minimal, realistic. Something to take away for myself, it’s is my 3rd quickest 10k of all time, behind the Dewsbury 32:39 and the Good Friday, Salford, 32:51. The 3rd time I’ve managed to break the 33 minute barrier. Needing to somehow find another gear and another kick in my ‘top speed’ to get quicker over the distance. Another takeaway message is that looking at my splits, disregarding my opening mile, I didn’t really fade so much, although it felt it at the time. Heart rate was higher than normal, but at a guess it looks wrong, as it didn’t definitely didn’t feel that high. But who knows!
Massive pocket on my own looking at the results roughly 40 seconds behind and 30 seconds in front, evidence for Gary though of his PB, not only does he have to look at the marathon times of Rob and Gareth, but you have to take your hat off for the work he has put into self improvement over the last year or so! Something not to be disappointed with, a barrier broken down, showing that hardwork beats talent, there isn’t a such thing as talent and if you put your mind towards something it truly can be achieved. Through HARDWORK. So don’t scheme, don’t aspire and talk about your goals, simply put just get out there and do something….
Just Keep Running…
**Not a clue who personally took the images, if anyone does. Drop me a message and I’ll give them photo credit**