It’s been a while… a while since I wrote one of these anyway! I’ve been doing other stuff, researching my family tree mainly.. looking at the history of the Cooke’s, finding out some interesting stuff. Pulling it together, finding out more and more about my grandad, the man that my dad only knew for 5 years before he passed away. It’s been interesting and it is still interesting, ongoing, as we delve deeper and deeper into the past.
The last couple of months of running has been a switch off, a ticker. Just one foot in front of the other until something begins. Races haven’t been thick and fast, I’ve barely raced, nothing compared to my usual standards anyway. I’ve run the Doncaster 10k and the Percy Pud, PB’ing in 32:35 to finish off a brilliant 2019. Then I’ve had the Ward Green 6, Travellers, The Ambles Revenge and a few XC thrown in for good measure. I haven’t targeted anything, I’ve lost a bit of road race sharpness whilst taking my trade off-road. I’ve had niggles, my left ankle before the Percy Pud PB, then my right ankle flared at the beginning of 2020, making my running painful. Something far from enjoyment, but the sadistic nature of the sport leaves you wanting more. The desire hasn’t faded, the goals still remain the same, the belief I can get there. Higher than ever. This is running, the weirdest and most simple sport in the world!
The Marathon sessions have resumed as we look towards our spring marathon goals, two sessions a week this time around. Meeting in various places around the place we call home. A decent turnout and likeminded people, pull it all together nicely! I haven’t been on pace at any of them, they’ve all been sub-par performances from myself, but I’ll get there. Recovery and measures to protect my body has been a key focus as of late. Purchasing a AirCast mid week to help with the recovery of my ankle and hopefully prevent further. It’s basically a cooler, electronic pump/compressor; it then pumps cool, iced water around and through a cuff on your injured area. On and off. They are quality, and well worth the money. Google it.
I haven’t run as much, I’ve been on my heels, ascending has been difficult and descending sometimes even worse. The Brass Monkey is flat, so I suppose that’s a bonus! I’m not expecting much, not much at all. A long run and that’ll do me. Having to switch my target to the Retford Half in March. I woke up around 7:30 anyway, dropped to sleep around 1, so not much sleep. Headache central, downed a pint of water, had breakfast and jumped in the shower. Out the house for 8:25. Steady drive through, bouncing rain, awful. Hoping it would clear by the time I got to York, it didn’t. Pulled in the car park at the racecourse, reluctant to get out. Sat there for 15 minutes, shall I turn around and go home? I’m not feeling this. Eventually stepped out, once your wet, your wet. Off for a couple of mile, then back to the car. Seeing a few faces on the way. Found a spot, had roughly a pint of pee, then turned around and back to the car. Vest on, number on, shoes on. Now we race. Made my way to the start line, seeing more faces. All the faces, everyone here for different reasons and different goals. I didn’t have a plan. I was just out for a Sunday morning run. In the pen now, being marched onto the road. Feel like shit. 3, 2, 1. Go! We were off, now we race. A little switch inside my head, released something else. Something I haven’t had since the York Marathon. A different kind of something. It’s the racer in me. The little boy I once were, who is saying to everyone else. I’ll race you? The kick, the raw desire, to just run fast. I wasn’t running anymore on physical fitness or aerobic endurance, it was all a question of how much do you want it. Quick body check as we got to the bridge over the A64. I feel fine. I watched the lead pack go, but they were doing ridiculous speed. I was in the pack behind, Matt Craig, Rob Weekes around me. That’ll do me just fine. As we rolled back down the other side of the bridge. My legs felt ok. Rain coming down and water dripping off my moustache. Not much breeze, in truth felt perfect conditions, despite the standing water on the roads. I didn’t feel as though I was working. Pack mentality, now we hunt. Head up, shoulders back. Looking onwards, into the distance. Seeing Gareth Lowe and Scott Harrington rubbing shoulders with the front boys, in a dense field of hard workers, not talent, no such thing as talent. 400 splits floating around the 1:20 mark, 5:20 pace. Not bad. Water station down, split my plastic cup in my hand. Not ideal. Thrown it on my face as the cold water hit the back of my throat, shocking my body into a small choke. I’ll be right. Onto the lonely country road, our group began to fragment, the side wind on here last year was unbearable, pushing us almost into the neighbouring field. Roads a bit loose, a small amount of mud. Matt Craig still in his company so can’t be doing too bad. I’m hitting the mile markers, ticking them off. All my pain has gone away. Running, just running. I’m counting up to the half way point. Hoping and praying I’ll still be in good spirits. Reaching it as Matt speaks a few words, saying to keep strong in the second half. Splitting Half Way in roughly 35:00. Now a negative split would be the dream! As we navigate our way through the small village, seeing the runners out in front navigating their way on the following country lane. Head up, shoulders back. Looking ahead. Feeling a bit of relief as the wind is at our backs, momentarily. Driving. Still in the company of Matt as we start to gain some distance on the guys in front, page hasn’t faded yet, neither has the effort. Just completely winging it, or feeling like that anyway. Counting down the miles now instead of counting up, looking for the left hand bend which means we’re on the roads we’ve previously run out on. Reaching it in what felt like a blink. Passing Robert Davies who had some trouble with his IT Band, on his way back to the racecourse. This time, he isn’t looking for his car! My first glance at the watch, being the mathematical genius I am, landing me around 1:10:30 for the predicted time in my head. PB being 1:11:45 from Retford and later equalled it at the Vale of York. It is mine to lose. Hitting the first bridge climb a mile and half from home. Followed by the next a mile from home. I was anticipating Matt surging and making the charge for the line. I was looking for the 800m mark to begin my charge, if I had anything left! Seeing the back of the Ebor Stand, tried to pick it up a gear. Matt had also made the dash. Counting down the seconds. Passing the first clock as it ticks over the 70 minute marker, telling myself remember when 80 or 90 was once a struggle. Looking for the line as it counts away the time. Crossing the line in:
Not bad to say I was only out for a long run… just means that all the time before, when I’ve run an half marathon, I’ve definitely not tried hard enough.
Hung around, spoke to way too many people to name them all! Seeing Birdy and Wholegrain come in with PB’s. Then seeing Bryan do a lovely little dance with a PB, finally breaking the 90 minute barrier.
All in all. Pretty happy with that, and I suppose it’s a good sign for the rest of the year. The moral for me to take from it… even when it is tough, even when you think you can’t no more. Just keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other and it’ll mean you’re doing something right. You’re taking a step in the right direction. Times may be hard, you’re body might be screaming to you, saying enough is enough, but is it really enough?
Just Keep Running.
Cover Photo Credit: Mark Robinson.