It’s hard, it’s tough, it’s definitely not a pretty course; until you stop for a moment, look around a little bit and see where you’ve been!
I’ve run this course every year since 2014, I can’t help myself but keep coming back, again, again and again. Every year it has been a positive method of showing progress, progress to wear I want to be. Not quite there yet.
Some years, the weather has been a lot more nicer than others!
Every single year though, the weather has been cold, and fresh, windy or rainy.. without fail!
The week in build up has included a marathon tempo session and a 3000m track race, also a parkrun 17 minute run… my mileage has crept up slightly, in a effort to drop my weight and get my legs wound up. I’ve enjoyed my running this week! The track race clocked me a 9:36.9, which is a marginal 2 seconds slower than the same time last year. I completed 4 out of 6 of my 2 mile reps set on Thursday, a lot more than my summer effort in 38 degree heat and still clocked all 6 of my self prescribed reps with the group. I’ve dropped the mileage slightly for this marathon training block, for 2 reasons, I keep getting stupid niggles and also compensating for the fact that I’m including two sessions in my week now, rather than one. It’s all an experiment anyway, and I may get it right, I may get it wrong, we’ll see! My main focus in terms of marathons comes in the autumn, so I’ll know which method to go with for then..
Back to the Meltham 10k, fast, flat and a certain PB course… or have I got that wrong? It holds aorund 800ft of climb and around 800ft of descent in the last mile! The manic mile. In truth it is a 5 mile race, with a race to 4.75 mile then a 1.25 mile dash downhill with a 400m climb to the finish. The worst bit for me comes in the last 400m dash to the finish, shocking your legs as you fly down into it. I set off around 8ish, got to Meltham for 8.40, jumped out the car, forgot to tie my laces, jog to the clubhouse to collect my number. Screwed it up, put it in my back pocket and off I went for a pre race jog, up the first climb, collecting Andrew Heppenstall in the process. Chit chat with him, as we tackle the first climb as a warm up, before returning to the car, pinning my number on my vest and changing my shoes. Tend to reserve the 4% or Next% just for racing, gone off of training in my ZoomFly’s as well, opting for my New Balance, Boston Boost’s, Zante Pursuits or Adios instead (among many others). That way, when I put them on, I’m racing and I get the full benefit of a racing shoe… even though many of my others are ‘tailored’ racing shoes as well. Jog through to the start anyway, nipped to the loo for a quick pee. Stood around the line, 9.30… glancing around, witnessing Clark Hind rushing to pin his number on his vest. His hardcore bushy beard, now that is an outdoors man! Quick race instructions read out, then we were off, quick downhill start before turning right and up, up, up, we go! There is always a bus on the first small climb, not focusing on pace. Not focusing on position, just running my race and putting one foot down in front of the other. Head up, shoulders back, anticipating the on your toes climb that is coming up. I had began to create a bit of distance between me and 2nd place. Tailwind for now, so trying to use it and use it to drive me forwards. However that tailwind will soon turn into a headwind when we turn back on ourselves. After the first climb, I treat the rest of the race as downhill or flat; even though it is very much, not! We ran to the top of the climb in our warm up, so I steadied early and took the climb steady. As it levelled out at the top and the flat to downhill road appeared.
Head up shoulders back, looking ahead, hopefully it’ll stay that way! Hitting the top, top and making the left turn and then the headwind starts, around mile 2 into the race. Hoping for some sort of relief as we make our way down into the dip near Blackmoorfoot. Unsure completely whether I am ahead of myself from previous years or whether I am behind. Clocking each field we run by and glancing ahead into the distance. Unsure how close the guy behind is, the headwind absorbing all of the sound and all of the reference points in terms of people shouting and cheering or cars overtaking. Hitting Blackmoorfoot, which is roughly halfway, a marshal tells me the time I’ve run through in. 17 minutes ish, I was told. Not bad, now climbing out. Knowing that we have around 1.5 mile left of climbing to endure until the massive downhill. Relaxing and trying to predict whether it will be a tailwind or headwind on that downhill. Over the bridge at Holt Head which in previous years I’ve seen flooded up to my knees. Cars flying by, as I approach the top of the descent. Ready to open my stride and bounce down the hill, onwards and downwards. Go, go, go. Headwind, I’d predicted wrong during the race, but got it right as I was stood on the line talking to Clark, as Meltham appears in the distance. Striding down, if that is even possible, letting my legs go. Throwing my body into it, falling with style, Buzz Lightyear style. Hitting the small roundabout at the bottom, as my legs wobble and I begin the small but very large climb to the finish. Seeing the clock ticking in the 35 minute region, on for a course PB. Just as the rain begins to break from the cloud, crossing the line in:
Around 30 seconds better than last years effort, same position however. I then get a drink, stop and turn for a moment to watch the others arrive. A good looking pack around 36 minutes with Andy coming in, in 5th place a course PB for himself, looking at the other clubs vests and predicting Matt Robinson to make up our team for Penistone, as he makes a drive for the line.
At the minute, I don’t feel particularly fitter than I have done in previous years, so a course PB is a bit of a shock. My recent half PB is also a bit of a shock, I’ve carried way too many niggles and training hasn’t been as regimented as it has been previously in terms of mileage. However I feel I’m training a bit smarter now, trying a bit of a tailored approach, hoping that in the end it all falls together and comes out the other side a little bit better, marginally better than it has done previously. It’s all an experiment, an experiment of putting one foot in front of the other, as fast as you can, chasing your best self.
Dewsbury 10k next weekend, we’ll see what happens there… for now though…
Just Keep Running!
Photo credit: Andrew Swales Photography