So call it what you will – brave, foolhardy, stupid – but just a week on from completing the marathon in a new personal best, I’m on the start line of another race. I was running in the Vale of York 10 after taking the number of club mate in a transfer – a decision I made just a few days before the marathon.
My preparation for this race was unconventional, to say the least. I’d put a lot of effort into the marathon, so I thought I deserved a bit of time off. So much so in fact, that when I started getting into my kit at the gliding air strip that formed the start, I was putting on a pair of running shoes for the first time since taking them off at the end of 26.2 miles the week before. Total mileage for the week – zero.
The Vale of York is basically the area between Leeds and York, which is very very flat (with the first mile and a half taking place on a runway), so in theory it is definitely a PB course. My previous ten mile races – the Otley 10 and the Eccup 10 in 2017 were both definitely not flat, so I was hoping that the marathon form might be able to carry over, and that I could break my previous PB of 1:00:05 and go under an hour.
Every year that has gone by my ambitions at this race have grown. In my first year I took on and completed my first sub three hour marathon – a two fifty-three. In my second I set off with the goal of going under the two fifty mark, and did it again – two fourty-six. So for my third attempt there was only one thing for it – my first goal for 2017 was to be a crack at going under two hours and fourty-five minutes, the qualifying standard for the championship start at the London Marathon. This had been my target and my motivation since I started my training block, unfit and slow, back at the beginning of November, and has kept me going all through the winter months and hard, high mileage weeks as race day got closer. And as that day approached, the form was there. After all the work the final key sessions which test my final form and pace showed that 6:13 a mile and a two fourty-three marathon was possible. So going into race day I had an A, B and C target to try and manage my expectations – go under my PB of 2:46:45, then under two fourty-five, and then to try and get close to that two fourty-three finish.
I was asked in the run in if I had any ‘taper niggles’, imaginary demons that make you skittish and nervous in the run up to race day. I didn’t have any taper niggles, I had taper problems. Two weeks or so out I picked up a problem in my right calf and ankle which was just about settling down in race week, and then on the Thursday of race week I picked up a bit of a cold. I was pretty grotty on the Friday, then a little bit better on the Saturday, and spent most of that day napping on my reasonably priced hotel chain bed and praying I would wake up better still.
Manchester Marathon 2017 training blog week 13/20
The Liversedge Half is one of my favourite races, and it is always part of my spring training calendar building through to the marathon. It’s relatively local to Leeds, it’s an unrepentant tough, hard, hilly course, and it’s run by a friendly local running club which always puts on a great spread of sandwiches, pasties and cakes after the race. Plus I’ve always done well at the race – in both 2015 and 2016 I’ve finished fifth with increasingly faster times.
Both years I’ve run the event the weather hasn’t been too bad. Obviously for a race that hovers around Valentines Day it’s a cold one, but the forecast during the week was for light rain at best, heavy snow at worst. I’m notoriously brave when it comes to race day kit, so I decided to add gloves to the shorts and club vest.