Eagle eyed readers will notice I haven’t posted for a while. There’s various reasons for this, a combination of life getting in the way (in particular a wedding to organise…) and a series of hackers getting in to the Allez Goose website routed through servers in every imaginable location across the globe.
But in the meantime I have been getting on with things. I’ll write more about this at a later date, but after running London last year I’ll be targeting the Manchester Marathon again in the spring. This means that at the time of the race I’m writing about today, the Dewsbury 10K, I was at the end of eleven weeks out of twenty weeks of training for Manchester – and feeling good.
I’ve had several good outings at the Dewsbury 10K – 34:49 on a long course in 2017 and 34:23 on a proper course last year. It’s a fast course, straight out of Dewsbury on the road towards Batley on a steady incline, a bit steeper in the third mile, and then back down to the start. It’s a race which also attracts a strong club field – my 34:23 last year was only good enough for 25th.
Being in the first week of February it’s a good time of year as part of a marathon build up schedule, but it also has a habit of being bitterly cold – and for some unfathomable reason I went into this race with my gloves firmly still in my cupboard at home. Unsurprisingly for those who know me, it was short shorts and vest on a day where the digital display sign on a building near the start was reading -6.
I had vague aspirations for this race. I knew I was in reasonable form – so expected to be at a similar level to previous years, and if I was there or thereabouts then I might be able to sneak under 34 minutes, but a new PB and first runner from my club across the line was all I was really thinking about.
The race itself is an odd one to try and sum up – often I’m recalling periods where I settled into the pace, people I was racing with or against, parts where the running became harder or the effort started to tell. In truth though this race was strangely unmemorable, but for all the right reasons.
I started off in a decent group, with David Song (formerly of University of Leeds but now of local rivals Valley Striders) and ran hard in the first mile to get into the rhythm and out of the crowd. I knew straightaway I was faster than the required pace for that first flat mile, and then again as we started to climb I was still under the pace. I knew that I was a little inside myself when I was able to rub my hands together to try and thaw out my claw-like hands while my legs kept on turning at this PB pace.
The third mile is the steepest, but this meant that at the turn the fourth mile allowed me to push on down and pick the pace up, again still well under PB pace per mile. In previous years I have absolutely turned myself inside out on the way back down, taking every cheer from club mates on the way up (unable to recognise any of them with the low sun) as an excuse to push the pace more. This year I knew that I could just keep a little back, staying on target for another PB performance at Dewsbury.
I stress that I was keeping ‘a little’ back – this wasn’t an easy training run – but the effort felt calm, consistent and smooth. It was a great feeling.
This only changed slightly in the final mile as mentally I started to focus on the finish line and keeping the effort going. After my watch ticked over to six miles and I checked my overall time, and I saw how close I was to a sub 34 minute performance and how close I was to the railway bridge that beckoned the final left hand turn to the finish archway – then I started to push and felt the effort properly, but once I saw the clock I knew it was safe – 33:45 safe.
Okay, well maybe that isn’t the face of someone who thought it was ‘safe’…
Seeing another club mate cross the line a short while back in under 34 minutes was great too, as well as several other club mates in PB times. Not only was this heart warming, but mercifully my hands had also thawed out while I stood at the finish line thinking about my run. I was back in the form I wanted to be in with nine weeks to go to the real target of Manchester, but more surprisingly I was now only 33 seconds away from the club record held by a very classy runner, a record I thought was out of reach. The main thing though was that, once again, I was back doing what I enjoy – running fast.