Long Way South

Death defying breeze
Is just what I need…

Failed to find a local boxing day race, so went for a walk round Devils Punch Bowl where it turned out a trail race had just finished! Think I may have had a shot in the ‘drinking male’ category… noted for future visits!Boxing Day Fox Hunt 038



Saturday was the chance of another bit of parkrun tourism, this time at Rushmore parkrun, however after just one day feeling well, another virus was starting to make itself known.

It was a bracing morning to say the least and with much of the course was around open fields. Warm up didn’t quite describe the running around beforehand in the icy wind. The well wrapped up volunteers were obviously keen to get on and we lined up for the run brief early. When they got to the ‘any parkrun tourists?’, a voice piped up ‘Bushy Park’ as I glanced round even the addition of a beard didn’t disguise the face of Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun.

I’d run the same parkrun as him once before, the inaugural at Congleton, but had been unaware despite having him in sight ahead for most of the 5k, so as we set off I was just contemplating saying hello before I inadvertently overtook him going round the opposite side of a big puddle. Oh well I’d say hello when he no doubt overtook me later, in the meantime I just concentrated on the bone shattering wind and trying to catch the runner ahead for an ineffective shield. As we exited the field I gained a couple more spots and settled on a steady pace along the canal gradually closing on another runner.

After leaving the canal, he suddenly turned and asked if we were going the right way. I hadn’t really been paying attention so wasn’t much help but we continued and a few seconds later could see runners ahead and a bit of puddle dodging later completed the first of two laps.

The wind was no better on the second lap as I pushed on for 19:51 and the opportunity to shake PSH’s hand as he finished, 1-1! GPS

A nightmare journey back home in the afternoon with seemingly every road clogged with traffic briefly livened up in Staffordshire with a few inches of snow lying on the ground. 4.5hrs to go there, 7 hours to get back.


The next morning it was up early for a first attempt at the Ribble Valley 10k, with the Hot Toddy off this year. The car park was icy but the race was still on.

Warming up it was clear another cold virus was on the way, so decided to stick with a sub 40 pace and hopefully get round. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and I took it easy at the busy downhill start. Made slight progress up the first couple of hills and was feeling good despite the cold air so kept gaining, apart from a bit of cartoon legs on the odd patch of ice!

Around half way there was a small out and back, as we climbed up I could see it was icy on the other side and as we turned, a few in front were slowing with caution so I upped effort, with the added incentive that Oldham parkrun Dan was now not far ahead. I found a clear line down the middle of the road and made good progress, catching Dan at the next corner. After a bit of recovery I was off again, I was now on for a low 39 so decided to go for it.

The third last hill was tough as I caught Sally from Ilkley, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get past her until the bridge. Now just a short steep hill and the finish straight to go. Plodded up the hill saving myself for the run in, as it levelled off a PB seemed assured but the run in kept sloping up and the line seemed to be getting further away.  I put everything into the last 400m but legs had gone and breathing maxed. With 200m to go thought I still had it, but just missed out by 3 seconds with a 38:54 – 19:34 / 19:20 splits – couldn’t be too disappointed with third sub 39 in as many months. GPS

Played it safe the next day and went for a 14k snowy walk instead of a run, despite the tempting conditions.

Snowy Walk 100 Snowy Walk 126 Snowy Walk 142 Snowy Walk 177 Snowy Walk 179 Snowy Walk 221






So 2014 ends a record breaking 1437km (893 miles) after it belatedly started in Feb.  Most I’ve ever managed before was 666 miles so pretty pleased. A top ten finish in the club GP plus PB’s at 5k (official), 7k, 5m, 10k, 10m and v40 first’s at Littleboro 5k and Turnslack Fell and a FIRST PLACE overall at Stairway to Heaven Trail Race, and best of all I helped start a parkrun… definitely the best year of running, so far!


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Oh, I wish it could be Christmas, every day
Let the bells ring out for Christmas…

Have pretty much given up on December for running as viruses just won’t clear, although I dragged myself around the final Todmorden Park 5k race in shocking conditions with sleet blasting into my eyes for half the course and struggling to see in the rest. Somehow scraped in under target at 19:57 but felt rough. GPS

After making the easy decision to cancel Watergrove parkrun on Saturday due to extensive ice – which was a shame as it was a great day, headed off on a gentle 6.2k leg stretcher on gritted roads.

I decided not to race at Tod Harrier’s team Duathlon on Sunday, but went down to do the results and cheer everyone on.  It was a miserable day, so glad to spend most of it in the pub.

Santa Run 2014 034 trimCough lingering but cold finally cleared in time for Wednesday’s Tod Harriers’ Santa Run, always a great evening with a couple of drinks stops and a whizz around the aisles of Morrison’s. Even the rubbish weather didn’t dampen spirits but still not feeling 100%.

A bit of last minute shopping at the 99p shop, a bit of sewing and I had myself a snazzy speedy outfit!WP_20141216_017

Just time to dry off outfit in time for run directing at Watergrove parkrun’s Santa Run on Saturday with a different weather challenge of gale force winds. Felt much better on Sunday but still with a persistent cough and clocked up a gentle 11.5k run.

Although slightly disappointed that I won’t clock up 1000 miles for the year, at the same time the enforced rest period should be setting me up well for next year, with just enough activity to stop me seizing up.

Cough just won’t clear and travelled down south for first exercise of the week on Christmas Day with a visit to a frosty Frimley Lodge parkrun in my speedy Santa suit. Bumped into another soon to be ex-Tod Harrier by chance also visiting the area.

Set off steady and eased up the field but struggled with the cold air, before just avoiding falling in the canal when those in front darted to the left to reveal a hole just in front that I skidded round. Realised halfway round I was well under 20 main target so pushed on for fastest parkrun of the year by 1 second and the bonus of finishing first Santa in 19:31. GPS


The One I Love


This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind

So having decided that I would join in with a bit of daily ‘advent running’ for December to try to get my total mileage over 1000 for the year (previous highest 666 miles), a lurking virus wiped me out.

Dropped out of Thursday’s Tod 5k, instead ending up standing out in the cold for twice as long helping out, which was probably worse than running.

More cold air marshalling at a scenic Watergrove parkrun on Saturday and then an alcohol free party for the Presentation Do to collect a sticky foot and plaque for 9th in the GP.

WP_20141206_029 (2) WP_20141206_010 (2) WP_20141206_014 (2)

Up early on Sunday for the Stockport 10, arriving with a flat tyre and still a bit ill but slowly improving. Decided on a steady plod round to avoid wasting entry fee but wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about time, until I was on track warming up and race head switched on.

PB + hills + cold = 1:15 target, only problem was I had forgotten my watch so would have to go on feel. Time didn’t really matter.

A cold rain shower hit 5 minutes before the start and after a steady trot around the track we were off for a loop of Woodbank Park, with the wise words of race commentator Tom Potsonremember runners, skin is waterproof” guiding us on our way! It was then out through some backstreets on a winding twisty route. It was nice to be able to run without worrying too much about time which was good as I had no energy and even at ‘comfortable’ it felt hard work.

After a mile or two I may even have been enjoying myself. The race was a bit of a fuzzy memory and we had a nice downhill farm track that I blasted a few places on and then eased along to a big hill around half way.

Gained a few places and then got stuck behind a couple of slowing runners, hung back for a bit and then with the top of the hill in sight, pulled out and chased a car to overtake several runners, kept it going to the top and then we turned off, and the road kept going up. Not to look like an idiot who had misjudged the hill, I kept the pressure on and round another corner to discover a little more up. Was really working now for the first time and had the overtaking bug, so just kept up the pace, steadily gaining places all the way.


I guessed we would have a tough final climb and we did, a long steady hill and breathing was too hard so eased off slightly. Back into Woodbank there was a bit of flat and I pushed on with 800m or so to go to gain a couple more places, putting in a good final push around the track for 1:11:11 (1:11:01 chip time).

Felt good but by the time I got back to the car was starting to feel worse for wear, and I had to pump tyre up again.   Probably a couple of days too soon to be running but quite possible my favourite race time of the year #11cheersforbinary

One in Ten

I am the one in ten
A number on a list…

After blowing my best chance of making the top ten in the club Grand Prix by missing the penultimate race where I could have scored good points, it was going to take a huge effort at the last fixture. Regardless of what I did, I was also reliant on the top 3 runners not being too fast, and that others vying for the top ten either not turn up or not improve their score.  Even then it looked like 11th would be the best achievable.  However I had no control over others, so all I could do was put in a good performance and que sera.

Then, to reduce my chances further, everyone in the world around me started coming down with viruses the week before. A 10.5k steady packrun on Weds was followed up by Tod park 5k race 2, aiming for the same time as race 1 and came in 7 seconds faster at 20:12. GPS

On Saturday, we had a stop off on the way at Preston parkrun for a steady 4.5km, with a mad blast along the last 500m for 22:05 – oops, slightly ahead of the 24 min target. It was then straight back in the car and off to the other side of Preston for Wesham 10k. GPSmi myra prestonpr 5

After an easy warm up I was raring to go, and popped to the loo with 5 minutes to go, then headed towards the start only to find 400 runners had vanished! Err… spotted a couple of runners in other direction and discovered start had moved, jogged down the road, and along, and along and half a mile later arrived along with the last few runners with seconds to spare.

The plan was simple, run an even pace around 3:55 km pace depending on the undulations for about 39:10 or so.

We shot off down the narrow start lane, felt much too fast and glanced at watch to find it had failed to start. Not good when I was due to rely on it heavily. Started it, unsure how far we had come, maybe 0.5km give or take a couple of hundred metres, clueless but let it slide as there was no point worrying. Stick to the pace plan and everything would be fine. Then we turned and it became apparent the route had changed as well. Arse!

There was another Tod runner, John, just ahead which was going to be distracting, so I decided to overtake to get him out my sight line and went through my first (recorded) km at 3:44. Too fast and adjusted as we hit a tough railway bridge, but decided to track a Lancaster girl. Stuck with her for a while but pace was feeling just a little hard for this early so let her slip away, and hit next two km’s at 3:54.  That gave me a boost as I was near bang on target, just needed to stick at this now.

I ended up a in no man’s land and regretted not going for it. Some noisy negative chatter kicked in and I slipped back slightly for a 3:56 which was ok with the undulations. Got caught by a couple of runners and we interchanged a bit through next couple of km but both 3:55 gave hope again that I had my pace perfect, as long as I could keep it going to the end.  Let the negative thoughts go and concentrated on the positive pacing so far.

The next two km were 3:54’s to further boost mood and around the 4 mile mark John came past looking strong, distracting as I kept him in reach and as we approached 5 miles I knew the up slope was nearly over so pushed on to pass him back. As we turned a corner I expected a bit of down but it was still slightly up and after another corner we had a bit of new route and a down and tough up. Fortunately a Wesham woman who was finishing well came alongside and I tried to work with her, although it was more like hanging on, and somehow managed to go through next km in 3:56.

It was hard mentally keeping up – lot of negative chatter in my head again – but I knew my pace was right and despite what my legs were telling me, I knew they could keep going. I half expected John to come back past but by keeping pace up just managed to stay ahead. It was all about my time though and the last 0.6km was at 3:54 pace for a very pleasing 38:51 – and 6 seconds off my PB! GPS

Legs felt great on the Sunday but my HR was about 10-15 up so decided against a planned long run despite feeling well – the power of the mind appears to have held the virus attack at bay for just long enough to achieve my goal.

There then followed the long wait until Monday evening for confirmation that not only had I successfully made the top ten, but by 0.1 squeezed into 9th place as a bonus. Highest ever GP finish, and the reward of a little trophy to go with the certificate.