Dewsbury 10k

I wasn’t going to write one of these. Not after that stinker. If you’d have spoke to me Tuesday night, I’d have guaranteed you a PB this weekend.. in fact, Wednesday I would’ve been equally as hopeful of the same. I woke up with a sore throat it wasn’t that bad, the running still felt easy. Thursday it took a turn and the snotty nose had started. Then I had started writing my dreams of a PB away. Friday, even worse. Friday to Saturday, minimal sleep and the run around parkrun was a tow! I had felt like I was in the shape of my life at the beginning of the week, after Meltham. I had felt comfortable, light on my feet, my achilles aches and pains had almost vanished. It can all change in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t disappear, it just changes shape. Running isn’t ever taken for granted, and I’m a sucker for miles. Miles make champions, running and running myself into the ground is something that I do daily. I love running, in all shapes and forms. It is a wonderful sport. I love seeing improvement in myself, I love seeing improvement in others, I love helping others to reach their own goals. But every once in a while you take a knock you fall down and you need to pick yourself back up. I’m currently laid on my bed, vapor rub all over my chest, runny nose, body is aching, I’m tired, I’ve only slept for a couple of hours. I’m doing everything but running, that that I enjoy. I have a compression bandage wrapped around my right thigh, it’s battered, swollen and it hurts to flex or contract. I’ve learnt something today. I’ve iced it, I’ve had a hot bath. I’ve massaged it, hoping it was just cramp. Right now it feels like I’m at an ultimate low, but am I? A lot of things can change in a week, but not by that much surely. I know that I’ll recover, my hamstring will get better, my cold or ‘Brexitflu’ will go away. A lot of things can change in a week. In such a short space of time. Typically I’m a positive person, so I’ll stay that way, I guess!

Picked Charlie up around 7.30, later than my 7.15 planned time. I got out of bed at 6.30, despite being awake since 12.30. Had a coffee shot, caffeine shot and some paracetamol. Needed to wake up! Like a dazed zombie we made the short drive to Dewsbury, plenty of room in the car park for now. Made our way to the sports centre, needed a pee. They told us that we can’t use the loos there, so back to the car, stripped off and bumped into Scott Harrington my mate from Otley. Went for a warm up with him on a peaceful trail! Breathing like a tractor and struggling. Legs feel fresh! Head does not. Stopped for a pee. Having the conversation with Scott about how we had to question our morals around the use of vaporfly’s, and when we first made the jump, I can’t believe it has come to this myself! Technological doping they’re calling it, but that’s a debate for another time. Back to the car, kit on, Charlie got back, dumped his stuff in the car and off we went for a jog to the starting area. Saying Hello and seeing plenty of familiar looking people. A few strides to wake my body up, they didn’t work, had a couple of more pee’s down a alleyway! I’ve hardly drunk anything, must be all the caffeine.

Then found myself on the line, surrounded by all my training group, the people who we grind out the miles together. Those in the running scene that know you the best. This is how it is meant to be. Countdown and we was off, I was straight into my stride, number on my vest, everything changes. Momentarily anyway. It was apparent that in that first mile that actually finishing the race might be a bonus! Breathing was hurting, my head felt top heavy. I felt as though I was struggling. I was about to have a stinker, and did I just know it. Monday and Tuesday I’d have thought low 32’s or sub 32 was in the bag!

**Note** you’ll probably look at my time and think, what a load of bollocks. I suppose it’s down to individual belief and the fact that running is only relative to yourself.

The first mile was down and pace definitely didn’t reflect how I felt, I felt down. I was looking at the guys out in front of, thinking to myself that is exactly where I should be, but I just wasn’t, I couldn’t get going.

Nose whistling slightly, vapor rub all over my face, feeling even colder in the breeze, you know that sort of feeling? Body is aching. I was hoping to make the turn in something like 16 minutes. I was still hoping. Dreaming.

16:30 that was to be. Knowing full well that it is all downhill from here. It literally was all downhill from here. Listening to the shouts, seeing all those familiar looking faces again. On their way out, I’m on my way back. Telling me that I’m looking strong, I wish. A life lesson for myself to take from it, someone may look strong on the outside but they could be feeling completely different. I was battling on, hoping I wouldn’t collapse into the curb. This is mile 24 in a 26.2 mile race. This could be what it might feel like. This is me battling on. It’s all simulation at the end of the day. It’s training for that one main event. I felt as though my body was ready, ready to pack in or surge to the finish. I passed a guy in front me who I ran on the shoulder on the way out. Probably gave him ‘Brexitflu’ as well, sorry! I was adamant that I’d catch John Hobbs who was even further in front. I knew I had that in me, on my day anyway. I was battling, with my head and myself. That’s all that matters at the end of the day when it all comes down to it. Really. The 8k marker was ticked off and soon the 9k marker was to follow. Then the worse came to the worst. I took a stumble, thankfully not into the curb, just on the road. An unnatural running motion out of my norm. I’ve got a crap running style anyway. But that was that, hamstring had what I thought, cramped up. I slowed, steadied the ship, gave me chance to catch my rhythm and then I tried to go again. John was now pulling away and the guys behind me were about to catch me. Hamstring was still pulsating and cramping, I really should have known to just pack in. But I don’t do that, I can’t do that. I’m not like that. That isn’t me. I’m a finisher, once I start, I don’t stop. I’m not a man of excuses and nor am I a man of weakness. I’m a marathon runner, you have to be a certain sort of breed, pain you have to embrace it, welcome it, accept it. Trying to shift my weight onto my left leg, compensating, but not comfortably. Hearing the fuss of the line, head has gone down when it should be held high. I’m beaten, but I’m not. I’m still here aren’t I. Sub 32 had gone, the dream had been lost before I toed the line today. A temporary stall in the process. Finishing this run, is the only thing on the agenda and it’s not even a race anymore. As Gary Briscoe came surging in front of me as we make the bend. Almost feeling like I’m hopping, in truth I probably wasn’t. I fell across the line in 33:00, equal time to Gary, Gary himself close to his own personal best. I was bent double, hamstring seizing and twitching even more. Hitting me like a brick wall now I had stopped. Feeling sick, I had battered myself and it wasn’t even worth it. Snot rushing to my head as I’m bent double, this isn’t good. Get me home.

There’ll be other races there’ll be other personal bests, there’ll be other times. Right now it feels as though I’m at a personal worst, but am I? Am I really? The time for the course isn’t my best, but the time itself in my eyes is still alright, it’s a lot quicker than I’d have imagined when I woke up this morning, saying to Charlie in the car, I’d be lucky if I break my Meltham time from last week. I suppose it shows progress and how progress in yourself is measured. The time eclipses anything I ran in 2018. It’s up there with the best from 2019. But that best, to me, still isn’t good enough. My PB sits at 32:35, I was stronger than that on Monday. Running at the end of the day is a solitary sport and there is only one person that change the outcome and that is yourself. It is all relative to yourself. In running, in life there will be those, (for want of a better word) dicks, those that will question my injury and question my ‘Brexitflu,’ they’ll write it off as ‘oh, he’s had a poor performance, he’s throwing out those excuses.’ Even though I don’t have to answer them, I’ll choose to with this… if you know me, if you train with me or if you’ve ever followed me…. would I ever skip a cool down or the chance to run some extra miles? The answer would be, no I wouldn’t… I skipped a cool down today. That is the last we’ll speak of that… Instead I was nursed back to the car by Scott Harrington. Where I collapsed in a heap at the boot, and waited for Charlie to come back.

I’m a runner, a marathon runner and we’re a different breed. Pain is only temporary. The low at the minute won’t last forever, you climb your body out of the ditch, repair it with whatever tools you have and you go again. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. As fast as you possibly can. As Rocky says it’s ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.

Rocky….

There were a ton of Personal Bests out there today, the 40 minute barrier has fallen down for many and the even quicker 35 minutes seems the new place or target, to be for most nowadays! It’s class to see and those that are in the training group and those close around me are all picking up their game! Proud as punch of them all.

Just Keep Running…

4 comments

  1. Honest words Gareth. I’m not in your league a fun runner really,parkrun just under 30, 10k under 60, half 2.15 but I’ve had brexitflu this week and it has knocked me sideways. Managed sub 60 (just ) this morning at Dewsbury but a fast flatish coures I was hoping for a PB under 58.
    You will be back as will I, there’s always the next race.
    Get well soon young man, it’s always a pleasure to watch you run

    Like

  2. A compelling and candid account, Gareth, of the mind set of the most dedicated and inspirational athlete I know. You vividly express the mental as well as the physical strain of having to grit your teeth and suffer when you’re under the weather and injured, and still produce a quality run. It’s just your expectations of yourself have changed as you have progressed as a runner and anything less than your best is seen as a failure, which it isn’t, just another stepping stone on the road to further success. Remember there’s no such thing as the perfect run, only perfect failure: because you expect everything of yourself. Your best write up yet! Take care, rest and recover and you’ll soon be back running stronger and faster than ever.

    Like

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