So although I haven’t posted on the blog for a while, I’m going to kick things off again by catching up on a few race reports. So let’s get cracking with how things went at the Dewsbury 10K two weeks ago.
The Dewsbury 10K
The last 10K that I’d raced was not the best race of my life. After getting injured in the run up to the Leeds Abbey Dash, my running life was pretty grim. Unused to how weak I was, I’d gone off at tough pace that I thought would be manageable, and then ended up struggling and running really hard to finish in a time that I was really disappointed with. It was grim.
The following period was a struggle too – it was hard at the start of marathon training through to London to start churning through the work when I felt so much slower than I wanted to be, and then I started coming down with a horrible phlegmy cold over the winter.
All of this is to say that I wasn’t expecting to get to the start line of the Dewsbury 10K in good form, and it had been a really long time since I had felt in really good form. To add to this, the background of the race was the club road championship – there were a few permutations, but simply I had to be first finisher in my club in my division to win the championship. In the run up to Dewsbury, just after the first ten weeks of my marathon training, I’d got the work done. I’d had no major tests of my form in the run up, so it was a bit of an unknown.
My race targets the year before had been a lot more thought through – I’d been aiming to beat a fairly achievable previous PB, and then the 35 minute barrier, and then a club mates PB of 34:52. This year I stood on the start line and thought the only way to go was to just go out at last year’s PB pace – 5:31 a mile – and see how things went. Last year, although I’m not one of those who whinge about it, the course was slightly long, so if I went at the same pace I would be able to take down the previous PB of 34:49.
The Dewsbury 10K is a great race, one of the dying breed of races that are very much locally organised races. It’s also a ‘racer’s route’ – straight up one road, and then right back down. It’s a very gradual incline on the way up, and then losing that elevation on the way down. Although the running is hard up, as the elevation is gained so steadily it’s easy to manage the pace over the first half of the race.
The first mile of the race ticked by quickly in under 5:30, and I picked up the pace of a little group including Tom Dart from Spen who I knew from the local circuit. My breathing was pretty heavy, both with the pace and my still blocked throat – a fact that Tom remarked at the end was “pretty annoying”!
Last year at the turn I’d seen Olympian Alyson Dixon and had that incentive to keep on pushing me on down the downhill section. This year I didn’t have that same motivation – I started to lose the back of the group I’d gone out with, and although I was picking up the pace on the way back in, this was purely because of losing elevation rather than picking up the relative pace. The effort was still hard, and I must have looked pretty grim on the way back in. The sun was low and bright, so I couldn’t make out any of the Harriers who were cheering me on as they were passing the other way.
Pushing on to the finish I knew I was on for a PB finish, and crossed the line in 34:23. On reflection it was one of those times that was good, but not great. It was probably a very similar performance to the year before – although it was 26 seconds faster, I probably would have done this the year before on an accurate course, but it did at least show that finally – finally – I was back in similar form to last year. The other bonus is that this year’s marathon, London, is two weeks later in the calendar than Manchester – so I was essentially two weeks back in terms of my training at Dewsbury, but was in similar form. This was the first performance, in a race or in a session, that I felt back in proper form. What’s more, this sealed my club Road Premiership division win for the second year in a row.
Also, I managed to get myself in Athletics Weekly again…
The Liversedge Half
Two weeks later I was racing again at the Liversedge Half, a race that played out the year before in absolutely horrendous conditions. I’ve run it every year since 2015, finishing 5th in every year apart from 2017 where some proper hitters turned up and I finished 7th in 1:17:51 – however every year I have finished faster than the year before.
The Liversedge Half is a great, tough hilly course, with a great communal feel from the organisation. This year there were far more Harriers out at the race then there usually are – I like to think that I’ve started to encourage more people to take it on!
Local races where I know the field is small enough that I might be up the front encourage me to start looking at the competition. I had a chat with Tom Dart from Spen who I’d run with at Dewsbury, and Joe Sagar (also from Spen) who was far up the road from me at Dewsbury. There weren’t the same 2:30 marathon runners who’d turned up last year, so I thought I might be in with a bit of a chance.
It turned out I wasn’t wrong. Five miles into the race, I was running in second – feeling pretty good – with Joe Sagar up the road. From our chat at the beginning, he’d revealed that he’d been a little injured since Dewsbury, so I was starting to wonder what might happen if I just kept on running strongly and he had to pull out at some point.
It quite quickly came undone. A runner from Chapel Allerton smashed past me on the steep downhill into Bailiff Bridge, and then on the steep uphills between mile 6.5 and 8, a further two runners came past me and I was back in my traditional fifth place. I didn’t feel I was going backwards, but these were just strong runners pacing a good race to get stronger towards the end. Over the final four miles I was comfortable in fifth – on the long drag up the A643 I could see 6th was a long way back, I was reasonably close (but unlikely to challenge) 4th, and was running well enough to be on for a close to PB finish – but only barely, managing to finish in a two second PB of 1:17:49.
My habitual 5th place meant that my confidence for the final part of this training block grew even further, but also meant I got my hands on some of the snazziest race bling ever.
Having missed blogging for pretty much this entire training block for the London Marathon, I’m now only five weeks away. I’ll try and blog every week for the run in to give an update on how the training has gone and what I’ll be hoping to do!