Mr Jones

She’s suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful

Started the week with a hard uphill mile test – 7:42 off an insufficient warm up, amongst a 3.25km run, still with tired legs from Saddleworth.

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Arrived on Wednesday at Horwich 5 expecting a gently undulating course only to find it was a bit hillier than that. With taking it easy, I’ve been a bit lax with race research, and had only glanced at previous results, not many familiar names but the odd one suggested it was a good opportunity to set an official PB for the distance.

As part of 10k preparation, the aim would be to run at sub 4 min km’s so target was under 32 minutes. However that was before realising that the course had more climb, oh well, good test, decided to stick with plan.

Had a few bits of warm up but didn’t feel particularly speedy, unlike most of the other runners who hared off like mad at the start. A quick check of watch showed I was way too quick anyway, as I was swallowed up by the field so didn’t worry and steadily worked my way back through up the first small rise.

Just before we started a descent, I closed in on one of my pre-race planned potential pacers, Maria from Horwich, who I expected to be sub 32 from looking at previous series results. All I needed to do was follow her and target would almost certainly be hit, but that was easier said than done. Took a minute or two to recover from effort to catch and then felt comfortable. Was happy pace was good so kept position behind a small group even though I was tempted to push on.

The descent kept going, which could only mean we had a lot of up to come. I’d spotted a road rising up ahead and hoped we turned before it, but we didn’t. It was not that longa slope but steep enough to dent overall time.

Despite that I knew I was up for a fast time, so concentrated on controlling breathing, quick cadence, light feet and keeping up with 2 or 3 ahead, all the while still sticking to the plan of not overtaking Maria. It was hard to stay with them at times, dropping off then working my way back, overall pace seemed right but was unsure how much was lost on the climb and how that would average out (didn’t want to waste energy playing with watch to check).

The downhill at the end of the first lap finally allowed a bit of recovery and I held back from overtaking until we completed the lap which was just short of halfway.

I had the feeling that I may lose more time on the bigger climb second time around so decided to push on and moved past my first lap pacers. Got into a swapping places battle with a bloke in green up the first rise and then pulled away a little on the downhill. I’d been so busy thinking about my pace with those around I didn’t realise how much I’d closed gap to a big group ahead. Too late, nearly at the bottom, to push now would mean blowing up on the climb so reluctantly had to let them go.

Green guy came back past and I worked hard to follow but maxed out breathing, so gap grew but we had reeled a couple in that had dropped off the group. I managed to recover well along top and closed gap back, pace was increasing and it got harder again, with lungs and heart working overtime. Thought I should have worn HR monitor as it would have been interesting to see how high it had reached, but then decided if I could think things like that I wasn’t trying hard enough!

I was unsure of exact finish line – really must get back into the habit of checking things out – as it was on the other side of the reservoirs, so hesitated on downhill when I could have pushed on earlier and by the time I decided to push everyone else was and I struggled to pass. Glanced at watch as we crossed dam and realised we were still 500m away, bit further than expected and legs were tiring.

A final turn and a twisting woodland road meant the finish still wasn’t in view, felt like I was fading and stumbled on a ramp giving the place back to green guy. Plenty of footsteps behind so somehow kept effort going to the line for a PB smashing 31:25

Really pleased with performance, first lap had been perfect (thanks to excellent choice of pacer!) although a tinge of disappointment I hadn’t been concentrating and missed the opportunity to close in on group ahead on the 2nd lap. Would have been a gamble, could have blown up, but that group finished around 31 mins and I’m sure I had it my legs on the night.

A great evening race in a great location will definitely be back for at least one of next year’s series, but think I’ll choose a flatter course for next 5 mile PB attempt! GPS

AdobePhotoshopExpress_9c50861330f445ad8046d8af72ac7141_jpgFriday was far too soon to be racing again so the plan for the inaugural Cannonball Three Day Event was to take it steady. I doubted I would recover in time whatever I did, but there still a possibility of a fast 5k next Tuesday to prepare for.

The first race was a 4.3 mile road race. After a nice steady start settled into a decent effort but probably a bit higher than desired especially towards end, added a slight extra bit but nothing significant to cross line in 29:34. GPS

Day 2 was the Watergrove Trail 4.55 miles. A great route taking in different trails to Watergrove parkrun – which I was Run Directing again in the morning – and despite how hard it felt, my favourite day. My pace was about right but effort way too high and really struggled in mid section. Managed to come round with a good steady climb away from the reservoir and then got embroiled in a battle in last couple of km and ran down a little faster than planned for 33:39. GPS

The final day was the Sheep Fell Over fell race, an up and down 3 miler. Aimed for an even paced 15 minutes up and managed ~14:30 and then had an easy run down, doing my best to save legs for Tuesday for a time of 23:24 GPS and 1:26:37 for the series.


Back in the Saddle Again

I’m back, Back in the saddle again

There are not many 6 mile races around and with one coinciding with a recent period of good speed, I decide to make another exception to the current ‘slow’ running period to have a pop at a PB.

Based on recent runs, predictions were coming up with estimates between low 39’s and 40 mins. As my previous course best in 2008 was 41:02 and my 6m PB was 40:02, this suggested that an attempt at just under 40 was achievable, and I would have the consolation prize of a course best if I just missed out.

A lot depends on conditions on the night and they weren’t brilliant, bit too humid and a breezy evening with threatening showers. Arrived nice and early for a couple of easy warm up runs 2km and then another slower 1.2km.

After a final trip to the loo, went into another final 15 minute warmup with a bit of stretching alternating with a few fast efforts, but tendon wasn’t happy so slightly curtailed final preparation. A heavy shower interfered a little too as I didn’t want to get too wet beforehand on a cool evening.

Positioned myself a little further forward than usual due to an early bottleneck with the additional challenge of avoiding some bollards but still held up by slow runners ahead. Took my time to work around them, unlike some crazies swerving all over the place and making a nuisance of themselves for the sake of gaining a couple of seconds before fading back after a few hundred metres later. Pointless.

Settled into a satisfactory pace once out onto the wider road easing my past the too fast starters. Put in a short burst to close a gap ahead as the field split ahead of me. I needed to average 4:07 km’s to hit PB target, but due to the hilly course this probably meant going at the flatter sections around 4:00mins, the downhills a bit quicker and hoping that the uphills would balance out.

A short rise past the bottom of Greenhill station road sorted out the wheat from the chaff and I settled into a nice pace along the flat – had Alison from Belle Vue just ahead, so knew was somewhere around right pace.

I had planned to stay behind her until at least the top of the hill but was feeling strong and comfortable so pushed on a little to close in on Moh, who seemed to be struggling up the hill (it later turned out he was taking it easy for a race the next night) and gain a few more places.

Onto the downhill-ish back of the course and I was really enjoying myself, going through 2 miles in 12:45 – 38:15 pace – maybe a bit quicker than expected but still feeling fairly comfortable. Breathing had been tight but with higher than normal pace not unexpected.

Was slightly concerned that pace was too much, best prediction had been low 39’s so I was 30 secs a mile ahead of best pace. With the dreaded section after the tight turn at the PUB to come, when I always seem to struggle I eased off slightly to save a bit.

Managed to keep going up without too much issue and latched onto Ian from Rochdale, usually further ahead but after a brief spell soon managed to get recovery in. Tracked him round to the uphill, expecting to see him go away but managed to stay with him to the top briefly passing him as I got legs going quickly again. He soon came past but this was great fun, and the pleasure of having a ‘better than best’ run kept the negative chatter down.

It was then a battle down to the bottom corner with a couple of others and could feel tiredness in legs but still felt strong. Faded back a bit after the turn but then closed in on the three ahead again going to final corner.
I knew at this point I could walk to the finish and still get a PB, so pressure was off and I could enjoy the run in. I knew I would have no sprint and wasn’t bothered about placing, so concentrated on keeping a sub 4 min pace going to the line for 38:39. PB well and truly smashed! GPS.

[Still no official results online yet… ] – Partial


Saturday was a chance for my first real run around Watergrove parkrun, thankfully all the volunteers turned up so I could run but my legs didn’t, so I decided on a comfortable effort. Ran a nice even pace but just upped it a little towards second turn around and down the cobbles, before easing round to the line for 22:16. GPS.

Sunday I went for a slow plod around part of next Friday’s Shore Road Race route and tagged a Littleborough 5k onto the end, in readiness for the Lions 5k next week. Considered running home but energy still not returned, so didn’t push it! GPS.