Burn Baby Burn

You walk like you’re in a daze
Unresponsive eyes in a distant gaze
Like all the good times have flown away
And their memory leaves a bitter taste

Woke up on Wednesday with yet another cold virus starting to make itself know, so plodded round Brownhouse Wham in the evening in 20:20. Owing to a slight confusion nearly all the runners set off on time, but without the timer in place, so helped out with a bit of ad-hoc timing when I finished!

Snaffled the v40 prize – more down to the midweek 6pm start and small field than running ability, but a bottle of wine is a bottle of wine!

Deteriorated daily and felt like ringing in sick for the very wet and windy Watergrove parkrun, but as I was Run Director and had all the stuff dragged myself down and actually felt better for it. Despite spending most of the time hiding under the gazeebo I was soaked. The wettest parkrun we have had so far.

After the hassle of getting an entry in for the Ron Hill Accrington 10k, felt I had to run on Sunday and the weather wasn’t as bad either but was still wet and windy! Fortunately, despite a terrible night’s sleep, actually wasn’t feeling quite as bad on Sunday, but had the mental alertness of a zombie.

Arrived to find the advised car park was closed, so had to drive round for another, fortunately lots of free parking and positioned myself underneath an overflowing drain.

Warming up, legs felt speedy but low energy and breathing was clearly going to be a problem.

After a slightly too quick start, I settled and set about overtaking some of the 200 or so runners who swallowed me up in the first few hundred metres… felt like screaming it’s 10000 not 1000 metres. Still shouldn’t complain about all those lovely pacemakers sacrificing their races just for me!

Resisted looking ahead much with 3 Toddies likely to be in sight, as I wanted to avoid the temptation to chase. All things considered I was optimistic about being able to manage in the region of 42-43 mins. After a couple of km was making good progress up the long hill but breathing was close to max even at reduced speed so had no alternative but to ease slightly.

I could see Michael 400m ahead and dismissed the option of catching, Darren and Pauline were nowhere to be seen ahead. Concentrated on bridging a gap to a couple who were overtaking and settled behind them, gradually reeling in the lovely scouse girl from the car parked next to us. Considered having another chat to see where she was from but a bit further on was Autumn, running strongly so reluctantly moved on to chase her down.

Gradually eased alongside and after a brief exchange, decided to push on towards a Rochdale vest using a downhill to up cadence and carry up next rise. This almost felt like real racing as I briefly forgot I was ill. The next climb rudely reminded me, as breathing maxed out and I slipped back a bit.

Eased effort down a notch and settled in behind a few until the turn about halfway. Michael now only about 200m ahead, maybe catchable? The problem being much of the return was down and I doubted I could get the speed differential required. Also had doubts as to whether legs had recovered from Heptonstall and whether I could keep going to the end with no energy.

As we hit the greenway I upped pace and somehow kept it going as breathing eased slightly. Whilst the distance to Michael had reduced it was only slight and I settled for sustaining effort to end. A final push up the last slope and cruised the downhill before a slight push for the line for 41:15.

Crap time, would have loved to have joined in the battle ahead, but really happy as it was well under what I thought I could achieve on the day. Last 3km all sub 3:45 bodes well for a possible 10k PB attempt late this year.

Home to a fry up, a hot bath and the remainder of the bottle of wine – nice recovery.

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Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good

Toe worsened after Haweswater so I reluctantly took a few days off in the hope it would turn out be be something minor like a sprain, rather than a more serious bruising or stress fracture.

Things were not looking good for Transvulcania in May, with all the missed runs due to viruses over the past 3 months the last thing I needed was more rest, particularly one that gave me time to reflect on my inability to run a long race. If I couldn’t cope with 13 on the road, then 17 miles in the mountains was not looking promising. In fact I had never run any race over 10 miles well in my life.

Saturday was a good distraction, doing the results for the English Fell Championships at Flower Scar Fell Race. Managed a bit of scamper watching the women’s race so set off on a hilly 12km run on Sunday, with toe not perfect but much better. With all the tweeting that went on, I was surprised my fingers didn’t end up on the sick list. A great event to be part of.

Tentatively back out with a packrun on Wednesday and then over to the inaugural Croxteth Hall parkrun on Saturday. I hadn’t really examined the single lap course but after a steady start I’d tucked in behind a couple of quickish runners and upped effort.

After sharp bend we passed runners coming other way but then hall came into sight about halfway, didn’t seem correct but had no option but to follow. We looped round and rejoined a stream of runners, with a marshal telling us we had come the wrong way. Considered dropping pace but decided to keep going.

Realised where we had gone wrong as we returned towards the finish, hitting the 5km point in 20:03 and the finish in 22:26 after a bonus 600m.

The next day was the Sweatshop 10 at a new venue in Blackpool. I was expecting a similarly flat course and despite it being a club GP race the plan was not to go all out.

It turned out that Bispham was not completely flat as the route was two loops of the higher and lower promenades with long gradual climbs and short steeper downs, so not to my preference.

Was caught in a much too fast start, so switched race plan to speed and survive, deciding to go hard on first lap and then see what happened.   After going through 5k in a crazy 19:20 this was going to be some survival test!

Calmed down a little but the knowledge of the chasing Tod vests saw me through halfway in 31:36, and the 2nd 5k in 20:20. Tiredness was creeping in but still kept pushing on for the next 5k in 20:42.

There was a noticeable slope up to the finish and lost a little ground going through 10 miles on my watch in 64:35 (would have just been a PB) but the finish line was 181 metres later at 65:14 for my second fastest 10 miler.

Not my preferred tactic but worth throwing in now and again as a test, felt boosted by my positive handling of the fade and even managed 3rd v40 in the Lancs Champs! GPS

Toe seemed almost but not quite right, so took a couple of days off before the packrun on Wednesday.

Friday was a partial solar eclipse.

I was still undecided about Heptonstall so went for a 10k run on the Saturday to help decide. That plus the good weather forecast persuaded me to go for it. At 15ish miles, it would be my longest race ever, and would be a significant marker post for which direction the rest of the year would take after the big one in May.

Whilst in a long queue for the loo realised I had the wrong insole in my right shoe, 3 sizes too small the wrong insole. Reluctantly gave up place in queue and ran up the road back to the car. Didn’t have the right ones but borrowed one from my road shoes. Considered swapping them both for evenness but time was tight and I still needed the loo.

Stood on the start line it became apparent that the other insole was also 3 sizes too small. 1 minute to go, 4 minutes needed to get back to the car and swap it. No choice but to try to ignore it. Shifted it round with my toes and hoped the pre-race blessing would pad out the gap!

Despite positioning myself near the back my steady start still saw me lose a few places and end up almost last as everyone hared off up the hill. Pace – this was all about the right pace at the right time. 5 miles easy, 5 miles steady then hopefully 5 miles still running would probably bring me in 10-15 minutes behind my potential best pace but more importantly give me the belief that I could actually manage to run more than 10 miles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘navigation section’ went by without incident, I couldn’t really spot any alternatives so kept in line with those ahead, taking the odd place. As we approached CP2 at Standing Stone Hill, it was time to move up a gear into steady, made all the more easy by a nice bit of downhill to come.

A steep section of Widdup Road gained me a few more places and as we headed off over the moors, it felt like this was more like race pace, carried on picking off the odd place but didn’t rush. Crossing Walshaw Dean a deliberate moorland burn caused a few breathing difficulties and struggled for a little while but ran well round the Walshaw loop ditching both Tim, an old school friend, and Simon from Tod.

After leaving Walshaw for the second time there was a long steady grassy drag and I took the opportunity to refuel and take on some water as I walked some sections. Legs were definitely feeling the distance now that I was into the last third but the blue skies and sunshine made for a wonderful day.

I found myself alone in no man’s land, unable to escape some pursuers and unable to catch those ahead. Felt like I was losing ground but after taking an unusual but effective line after CP7 found myself with a couple of runners in sight and worked hard to close them down on the rocky lane.

Kept at it and caught one then the other, entering the woods I was just behind Rachel from Barlick, before she took a wrong turn by a few paces and I ended up ahead (I did call her back!). As it felt like an illegal overtake, I went steady up the next climb to allow her time to catch back up. After being passed by a guy I got back up to speed and really enjoyed the section through Crimsworth Dean despite the impending black wall of death that was getting closer and higher with every step.

With just the notorious final climb to go, 165m in 1k, runners compressed up the slope and suddenly there were lots seemingly catchable and lots catching up as we fought to lift legs upwards. At the top the pain didn’t end as there was still a couple of fields of gentle up to go before the final field of down.

I did my best to keep running, it being less painful than walking, but probably no faster and crossed the line exactly 1 hour behind the winner in 2:47:15, the proud owner of my first successful long race. GPS

Weak

With this tainted soul
In this weak young heart
Am I too much for you…

Seemed to be recovering well from Liversedge until walking up some cobbles on Wednesday morning and big toe suddenly cracked and I couldn’t put weight on it. Not good, and foolishly risked a packrun that night. It wasn’t too bad whilst running but walking was a definite problem with no push off.

To make it worse the default workaround was to transfer my weight off it and onto my tendon – aggravating that to the worse it has been for months.

A week later and I was still hobbling, with the prospect of Haweswater Half Marathon on the Sunday now a doubt. I’ve never DNF’d a race in my life, so it would be crazy to risk it cold.

I used a gentle Fell Foot parkrun on the Saturday as a fitness test. A warm up seemed promising and I lined up at the start with the intention of a very gentle run. Got carried away with overtaking and recorded 22:07, Oops.

Toe felt great until walking back to the car when it clicked and started hurting again. Inconclusive test, race on! GPS

 

Sunday was cold, very cold and there were even a few little hail showers before the race. I was still undecided on how to run as we walked to the start, exchanging excuses with Daz. Once we set off, no pain, so toe was soon forgotten and I was swept along by the crowd as I fought to get onto target pace.

The only problem was I had no target pace. A couple of km later I’d settled on trying to sneak a PB. If toe held out, it should be manageable as course was no hillier than Liversedge. I worked out required km pace and ran it well to about 5 miles when ITB knee pain hit. Managed to relieve it by running through the often deep puddles, cooling it down. Had eased by halfway, turned and went steady up a long drag. As I approached the 8 mile marker, things didn’t seem quite right and I realised my mental maths hadn’t been up to it in a crowded country lane at the start and I had run too fast. Oh well, not feeling too bad, ease off and keep going, PB easily bagged.

A mile later I was struggling, another mile and I was in trouble. I was drowning in the negativity and another hill was not helping. Went the logic route and ignored the voices whilst I recalculated again, mistake, should have gone on feel. Even at a slower pace by 11 miles I was gone, but it was nearly all downhill from here, so all I had to do was keep going and a PB was still achievable. I slowed even more. Briefly rallied every few overtakers but struggled to hold on to anyone for more than a few seconds. Nothing was working, every trick I had failed to lift my mood and my body was in meltdown, tendon, knees, legs, arms, back, even my toe joined in the pain.

Being caught by Rachel from Stainland coincided with a nice bit of down and I finally managed to up my pace to keep up with a small group. Even started thinking maybe I could keep going and then someone turned the power off and they were all gone. More and more came past, and around 12 miles I allowed myself a feeble walk, on a downhill. Bit of a talking to and I was up and running, losing more places but at least making a token effort to look like a runner as I finally crossed the line in 1:37:31 and 125th place, 50 places dropped in last few miles, ouch. http://www.ukresults.net/2015/hawes.html . GPS 

Still in shock, stumbled around for a bit eating and drinking, and talking nonsense! Eventually I managed a run-walk back to the car. Got changed and put every dry layer on I had, even with 6 winter layers on I couldn’t stop shivering and shaking. Jogged back to the finish to generate some heat, thanks legs, bit late now, head finally coming round.

Set off driving back as snow started to fall, feeling a bit demoralised at another long run had gone wrong but had enjoyed the first 9 miles at least. A great well organised race that I will be back for, in one of my favourite Lakeland valleys. Mood picked up as the snow kept falling and the M6 was soon covered by a few inches, brilliant drive home!