It’s 8.30… I said that I’d set off half an hour ago. I’m sat here, still at home, listening to the rain bouncing off the window. It’s smashing it down. It’s not joyous, it doesn’t sound pleasant. This time last week, I was stood at the foot of the humber bridge. This week, I’ll be toeing the line at Cusworth 10k.
I could easily stay at home, crawl back into a nice warm bed and drop to sleep. Dream the day away, in fact it wouldn’t be a bad move. Winter is almost here, long gone are the hot days, light nights and bone dry paths, fields and bodies!
On the other hand, I could get my arse out the front door. Get in the car and make the most of my day. No brainer! Jumped in the car around 8.40. Set off to Cusworth, managed to pick a fight with a fly that was wizzing around my windscreen on the way. Painfully and regrettably slapping the windscreen with my knuckles in the process. The fly won. Got to Cusworth still early, I would’ve been too early had I set off at my planned time! Parked on the concrete. Pinned my number on my vest; I’d not done it the night before, didn’t have any safety pins to hand. Got my wet jacket on, joggers off. Got out the car. Glanced to my left, Dave Brooksbank and Keith Littlewood. Having a chuckle, the last time they both raced here. They bet me! 2014; I’m assuming, I ran 39:14.
I had run it also in 2013; clocking 41:37, a personal best at the time, getting myself 60th place. Chatted with them and then headed for the loo, bumping into David Needham for a quick chat. Eventually made it to the loo, quick pee.
Then saw Scott; took him away on a bit of a warm up, I had planned 4 before. He turned after about a mile to make it 2 for him, I did my 4, ended up in Doncaster Town Centre, I think. But it all looks the same to me! Got back to the car, vest on, Vaseline on, shoes on, chip on. Saw quite a few Penistone athletes, a race in our club championship. Then had a jog towards Cusworth Hall. Speaking to Martin James for a bit. Before heading away from the warmth of the hall’s courtyard to the road for the start of the race. Beating the mad rush, saw Scott again, hung back as we watched the hoard of Sunday morning zombies walk past us. Everyone in the zone. Buzzing on this glorious Sunday morning! Eventually tagged on the back, with Joe Sweetnam-Powell and Lee Milburn. Now on the line, so far away from the warmth of my bed. Not too cold, but soaked. 138 miles in my legs between now and toeing the line at the Hull Marathon. Rested and fresh, might be the understatement of the year. Keith Binney found himself in a conversation with a car driver who wanted to drive through the few hundred runners. Defended himself well!
Gun was now pointing at the sky, and then, we were off. I set off slower, tried not to blow up in the first 400. Still found myself ahead of Scott. Ooops. Steadied and backed off. Let a few people go ahead. Sat in and found myself in 8th place.
Onto the downhill stretch, the downhill we would eventually drag our backsides up! Head up, trying to stick my chest out. Settle down man! Puddle splashing. Positions had formed out in front with Lee and Scott taking point. I was feeling comfortable, focussing on my breathing. In actual fact using the memory of Mark Havenhand passing me many of times; trying to copy his in and out breathing style. Someone will know what I mean. Feeling calm, as we approached mile 1, now finding myself in 6th. Looking ahead with Richard Smith out ahead of me. Gradually gaining on him, I didn’t rush. I just took my time and made a move. Now in the 5th, as the course rolled up and down, up and down. It’s not flat, but it’s not too hilly either. It’s been my PB course many times; but the temptation of flatter and faster races has taken over my PB race nowadays! Looking ahead and gagging for the left had turn on the main road, the left hand turn in previous years where I’ve raced with Richard Hayes, James Thompson, Mark Havenhand in 2016. The gradual descent down where momentum can build. We reached it, I was now feeling good. Looking out in front as Lee made the turn followed by Scott, Mike Burrett from Leeds somewhere behind them in 3rd and Matt Craig out in front of me in 4th. Honest positions of where we all sit in the pecking order. Money probably could have been won on that order at the 5k mark. Hit the downhill, racing to the estate. Head still up and I was feeling comfortable. Marathon pace everywhere.
Snubbing the water station, drinking from my moustache instead. In and out, taking a clock of the shoulder and a shout from the marshal; Alan Ford somewhere behind, potentially close. Now we were on the downhill section of the course, all the tough stuff done. Apart from the finish; but that is a different ball game! I kicked a little bit, feeling stronger, but not fresher, than usual. Unusually, mile 4-5 was my fastest mile of the race; clocking it in 5:18. So I must’ve done something right on my ‘slower’ start. Weaving, dodging, ducking and diving our way around the country lanes. Passing the 5 mile marker. Into the last 2k. Roughly 6 and half minutes of hard work left. Looking ahead, as the course begins to rise. Back on that downhill that we had gone down to beginning, although now it was an uphill. The steepest ascent known to man. Joking it’s definitely not! It just feels like it at the time. It’s over in a flash, rising and rising. Passing the 6 mile marker. Less than 400 to go, seeing the entry to the hall. Turning. Spotting the line.
Holding my 5th Place.
Before the race, if you’d have given me that time. I’d have been chuffed. It’s not my fastest, it’s not my slowest. But it’s my fastest Cusworth 10k by well over a minute and half, my previous being in 2017; clocking 35:53. Then I stopped, stripped off my soaking vest. Got on a nice green long sleeved finishers top. Stood, chatted to everyone who were milling around the finish area. Before departing on a cool down with Scott, Alan and Lee. Scott managed to narrowly pip Lee to 1st place. Alan finished around 15-20 seconds behind me! We’d guessed 4 miles for the cool down, turned into a bit of a loop and clocked 5.5 miles. Not bad for a Sunday morning out!
The race of two halves, kind of. In other news; pretty jealous of all the Berlin Marathon times echoing back. Floated the idea and looking at Berlin 2020. Watch this space!
Then I woke up, and it was all a dream… I’d actually crawled back into bed at 8.30, dodged the rain, stayed dry, stayed warm. Feeling far from accomplished with my lack of ability to seize the day. I just laid there. Dreaming all about the Cusworth 10k….. ahhhhh, you know I’m joking! You caught me….
Must get quicker, must get faster, must get stronger. Only one way to do it and that is practice.
Just Keep Running!