After a relatively successful October, I decided to have a bit of downtime for 10 days before refocusing on a winter of shorter distances. I won’t be testing my ankle on the cross country, so I’ve decided on 10k’s, as well as some indoor track races (a career first for me!) and then Helsby Four Villages half marathon in January. I don’t plan to do a marathon for at least another 12 months, I’ve been concerned with my speed at shorter distances and this needs to be addressed almost immediately as I’m not getting any younger! It’s debatable whether I can top my old track pb’s, but I’m determined to have a go in 2017, as many have stood for around 10 years.
My first race was Cheshire 10k, which is a very flat and scenic race that starts and finishes at Arley Hall. I hadn’t done this race before, but it’s one I’ve been keeping an eye on for some time and it’s usually a high standard with fast times. The conditions weren’t perfect, the heavy rain had caused some flooding and it was quite muddy around Arley Hall, the organisers did well to keep the race on and we only had a minor delay of a few minutes before setting off.
The field was strong; pre-race favourite Mo Abu-Rezeq was there, along with sub 2hr 20 marathoner Stuart Spencer, Rob Danson and Russell Bentley. The event has an interesting prize structure of offering £20 for the leader of each kilometre, which is certainly conducive to producing good times with similarly matched athletes. Unfortunately neither myself or the others could get anywhere near Rezeq; who pretty much had the race won after the first km, which was the last I saw of him! In all honesty I felt very sluggish early on and was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to compete amongst the pack fighting for second place, which consisted of Rob Danson, Russell Bentley, Matthew Wigelsworth, Stuart Spencer & Ben Johnson.
The group was quite packed on the narrow sections of road and after 3k I decided move to the back of the pack to have a bit more space, as I wasn’t really able to push the pace as much as I hoped to. We passed 5k in 15:54, which was about what I expected, but I also knew I wouldn’t stand a chance of clinching second place against these guys if I left it late. I knew I was perhaps lacking a bit of speed, so I decided to make my move between the 6th & 7th kilometre and try to grind out a tough pace over the last two miles, which would hopefully drop the others. Danson responded straight away and by 8k it looked like a battle between the two of us for second, so the tactic was working to some extent. I couldn’t shake off Rob though; he was clearly in top form and I could sense I had my work cut out, the closer we got to the finish, the more Rob looked to have the upper hand. By the last kilometre I was the one hanging on and he got away from me in the last quarter-mile to claim second place after a superb effort, bagging a new pb in the process. I lost my legs completely in the final sprint and was some eight seconds behind in 31:20 with Bentley and Spencer close behind. Abu-Rezeq cruised to victory in 30:27. It’s a great event and I’m looking forward to racing there again next year, possibly in both the April and November ones.
I had hoped to run around 31 minutes or under, but overall I was happy with my run. I ran the second half considerably faster, battling with Rob Danson who has improved to another level this year. He certainly has the credentials to break 31 minutes after covering that last 5k in around 15:20.
On the following day I started suffering with severe toothache and have discovered I’ve got an infected tooth, so training has taken a slight hit this week. Thankfully I was able to get the tooth removed on Thursday, so it will be nice to be off painkillers and penicillin at the end of this week! It will have a bearing on whether I decide to race at Wilmslow 10k or not, as I only want to race this if I’m happy with my training leading up to it. Hopefully that will be the only blip before Ribble Valley 10k on 27th December.