Week 10 – a PB at the 5k. Week 11 – a PB at the Half Marathon. Week 12 – over to Huddersfield to take on the 10K.
I’d entered this one a while back at the same time as last week’s Liversedge Half. The deputy chief executive of the charity I work for is running the London Marathon to raise money for the charity and chose this as a training race, so we decided to make it a work social.
This was another one that I hadn’t realised how hilly it was when I had signed up. I’d been pretty confident that I was going to PB – my previous 37:43 was off the back of running downtime, and more acheived by merit of not having run a 10K for a while. Having finished fifth at the Liversedge Half, I was also starting to talk up my chances of placing well, with the added target of prizes going down to sixth place.
That was until I started to realise how hilly the race was. The winner of the 2015 Liversedge Half, Kevin Ogden, ran it in 1:15:33 – in 2014, he finished 2nd at the Huddersfield 10K in 36:00 flat. This didn’t bode well.
It was a grey, cold morning. I went for thigh-length base layer, vest and no gloves and no hat – it was very cold waiting for the race to get under way, but not too bad once running.
I stood close to the front at the start line, in the second row around those that I thought would be reckoning towards the end of the race – next to David Driver from my club Hyde Park Harriers (after running with him on Tuesday I knew my chances of finishing ahead of him were low), and Kevin Ogden.
The gun went, I moved off with the general movement of runners, making my way toward the front of the race. I was just about in some space, and then – bang, my feet went from under me, I went spinnning over and falling onto my right hand side, landing on my hand, knee and elbow, rolling onto my shoulder and spinning over. In the bustle I must have had my trailing leg clipped by an over-keen runner, sending me flying. This really has to be one of my pet peeves – often by runners who shouldn’t really be lining up with the real speedsters at the front, either because they don’t really know what a race is all about or their ego is bigger than their ability. Instinct took over and seconds after hitting the ground I was back up and running again, left, right up a slope, left again, trying to get back up to the front of the race. When I finished the race, it turned out my wounds were pretty impressive.
After a while I had moved through the field, past a large group probably including the person that clipped me, and back up into the top ten. Despite the fall, I managed to complete the first mile in 5:54 – on target pace. At this point I was probably in sixth, starting to climb the first major hill. At the end of this hill things had settled down, I was up into fourth having gone past a runner from Ripon Runners and one other. I could now see the race leader (just about where the route permitted), Kevin Ogden up ahead some way off, and David Driver of my club not too far ahead.
The route was never flat – the two major hills came from mile 1-2, and from 3.5-4, but inbetween it was all roughly up and down. Trying to pace this to a PB was tough, and really relied on just running on hard, barely sustainable effort, and making sure to bomb it where possible on the downhills.
I felt as though I was gaining on David in third when I was going uphill – I thought that I could see the gap closing, and then when he crested the hill ahead of me, he seemed to increase his speed more easily than I could. I felt pretty rough from the efforts up the hill, and despite pushing the pace as much as possible on the downs, including one so steep late on that I felt nervous going at breakneck pace, thinking my centre of gravity was about two metres ahead of me the whole way down.
After this drop at 5 miles I thought a PB, and a sub 37 minute one was on the cards. There was a nice final switchback at the bottom, left through a car park and then doubling back allowing you to look back at the sharp descent. I knew 4th was in the bag when I couldn’t see the next runner as I made the turn. Over the next mile, I kept on trying to push on to see if I could get 3rd if any of the runners ahead started to tire. I turned on to the final road down towards the start and finish, Lockwood rugby club, the watch ticking onto 36 minutes and hoping the finish line wasn’t too far away. I passed my colleagues who were cheering the rest of us on, and pushed on to the line.
I crossed the line in 36:49, and had secured 4th place. Apart from finishes in Parkruns, Liversedge and Huddersfield have been the first two races that I’ve actually been ‘in the shake up’ for. If it wasn’t for the fall/trip at the beginning of the race, I am sure that I would have had a fairly good shot at finishing in 3rd.
I was able to shake hands, grab my finishing shirt, and then head back to meet our supporters, and to cheer on the rest of the finishers. I always talk a lot about my acheivement, and what I’m happy with, so it is sometimes easy to infer that I can be quite dismissive of acheivements up to my standard. Not so – I think it is brilliant that anyone is involved in sport, and acheivement in sport, at any level. There were some great acheivements from my colleagues – Adam and Dave both finishing in 40 minutes despite recently not training as much as they would like with new young families, Ed and James coming in in under 50 minutes, Jools (training for London) in under 57, Mike finishing in under an hour, Richard in just over an hour and Ellie in just over one hour ten.
Finishing in 4th meant, for the first time ever, I had had to stick around for the prize giving, and won £50 in vouchers for a running shop. This meant that once I subtracted my entry fee I had kind of made a profit from running! It’s a pretty long way from being able to earn a living through the sport, but I’ll take it.
In the evening I ran another 12 miles (after eating a bit too much so on a slightly dodgy full stomach) to top up the scheduled mileage. After a hat-trick of PBs in 5K, Half Marathon and 10K (the last two on hilly courses), I feel confident and well on track for sub three hours at Manchester.
69.2 miles running
36.3 miles cycling