After the Manchester Marathon I wanted to throttle back the training a bit – but not too much (more of why later). However I’ve had a few races since Manchester which I wanted to write a little update on.
Kirklees 10K Challenge, 2nd May
The Kirklees challenge was one of my post Manchester events that I didn’t have scheduled in before the marathon. I stumbled across it online. There were a few things that attracted me to it, the course was out and back along a canal so looked pretty flat, I hadn’t run a 10K in good form for a while so I thought it would be a chance to carry the Manchester form over and get a PB, it’s near where I work so it was convenient and some colleagues were thinking of running and supporting.
However my main motivation was that for the past two years the winning time was in the 38 minutes – outside my PB, so I thought this was a good chance of a win.
Without sugar coating this one it was a big case of pride comes before a fall. I was very confident pre-race, lined up at the start and then went off confidently down the canal in the lead feeling as though I was streaking away from everyone. The turn threw me a bit, turning off the canal up a short sharp hill. It was also at this point I could see a couple of runners not too far behind me. At that point my legs felt absolutely cooked, and a coffee I had in the morning felt worryingly recent in my stomach. Morale wise this was pretty tough, having not too long ago felt strong enough to increase the pace 20 miles into a marathon.
I toughed it out on the way back down the canal until I could hear the next runner right behind me. I ran easy for a bit to let him take the lead and decide the pace for the final mile. Coming back off the canal he created a small gap, which on the results was only two seconds, but was one that I was never going to close.
Oh well – £20 in running vouchers, a new PB, and a lesson learned never to underestimate the competition.
Leeds Half Marathon, 10th May
The Leeds Half Marathon was another one that I entered a bit on a whim. Having run a good for age time for London I was tempted to have a bash at a half marathon to try and go for an ambitious sub 1h15m to go off the ‘championship start’. Living in Leeds this race is just a case of rolling out of bed, and I went in with the mentality of going out hard for the time and if I completely exploded it doesn’t matter at all.
Again I massively underestimated the remorseless long slopes of Leeds, underestimated the creeping dry heat of the day, and overestimated my form. I went off planning to run 10 seconds over pace for the first hilly part of the race and then 10 seconds under on the second downhill and flat part. I soon found I couldn’t even stick to 10 seconds over on the uphill part.
It wasn’t a run that I enjoyed at all, but I managed to bring my PB down a tad from that I acheived at the Liversedge Half, finishing in a flat 1h19m. Both of these are hilly courses so there is probably potential to get that down further if I choose to target a half, and it’s nice to see that 1h20m in the half marathon is for me ‘the new normal’.
Two post Manchester races and none of the main targets acheived was a bit dispiriting. Luckily not achieving a London championship start time was pretty convenient – I’ve now been invited to a wedding on that day, so London plans have changed.
Calderdale Way Relay, 17th May
The Calderdale Way Relay was the only race that I had signed up for before Manchester. The Calderdale is a six leg team relay race, with each leg run by a pair of runners. The race is run over terrain that is on the very easy end of what is classified as a fell race, but even then it is very different from the running I’ve done before.
Having assembled a good team of runners for Hyde Park Harriers A we were confident of a good team finish. We were aiming for a top 20 team finish, and for Liam and myself running the final leg, we wanted to take the Hyde Park Harriers leg record and secure the top 20 finish by making sure we weren’t overtaken by any other teams.
Running in a team where your performance directly impacts on the result of everyone else is not something we do often in UK running. It was a very different but rewarding team experience. Before the start the tension grew waiting for the leg 5 team, knowing that they could arrive in any time in quite a large window.
The route was not signposted, and we had to rely on maps and instructions to find the way. We did fairly well on this front, having recce’d the leg the week before I was able to run largely on memory – only going wrong once (a change of route rather than going the wrong way) and barely having to slow down to check the map.
Around half way around the leg my running partner Liam injured his knee. For the rest of the leg whenever we went downhill he was visibly and audibly in a lot of pain. At points there was a bit of doubt in my mind about whether he would be able to finish.
The fact that a team is depending on you in a relay race really gets you through. Once we were over the final hill, there was one final down – long, steep and on tough tarmac. This was a real struggle, and at this point we noticed another team behind us. We were still on track to get the leg record for the club and secure a top twenty finish.
However once we hit the final canal stretch, our competitive instincts really hit in and we pushed the pace as hard as we could and dropped the team gaining on us. This really changed how we viewed our performance, from disappointing compared to expectations to finishing with an heroic and successful struggle. We found out later, after triumphantly crossing the finish line hand in hand, that we had actually gained a place – a team in the top 10 after leg 5 got horrendously lost and finished behind us.
The Calderdale was a great event which I will do again next year – the foray into team running and fell racing was great fun.
So at the minute I am back on the bike – a lot more cycle training on top of my commute for some big events coming up in the next few weeks. More of that later.