The past two months haven’t been as fruitful as I had hoped, hence the lack of a recent update. September ended well with perhaps my best ever run at the Northern 6-stage Road Relays; running the third fastest leg of the day and helping the club finish in 11th place… or 10th, or 7th, dependent on disqualification of other teams. That’s worth a whole article in itself, but in a nutshell it was to do with the eligibility of athletes for their clubs and the whole 2nd claim administrative mix ups! All makes perfect sense, so lets move on!!!
Off the back of two very good results (Lake Vyrnwy half & relays) and some encouraging signs in training, I was confident of bettering my time for the half marathon in October. I had given myself two opportunities, Cardiff on the 1st and Manchester on the 15th; both fast courses boasting a high quality list of entrants. It’s often the case that when you seem to have nailed one of your best sessions or training weeks, something tends to throw a spanner in the works and on the Wednesday prior to Cardiff I came a cropper and picked up a cold. I nearly made the decision (and perhaps should have done) to withdraw, but as I’d already paid for my travel and had my accommodation put up by the organiser, I decided to still go ahead with it. “If it’s just a head cold I could still run well”, so I kept telling myself anyway.
By Saturday I felt reasonably well and was more bothered by the fact that any coffee I drank had a nasty aftertaste from all the horrible menthol lozenges I was taking. On the morning of the race my legs felt fine and my head seemed to have cleared, so I stuck to my plan of going out aiming for a pb. The first mile was very quick; the Kenyan runners and Dewi Griffiths were already far ahead, but the group I was with went through in well under five minutes, so all was well. As far as my race was concerned, that wouldn’t last long and I was suffering by the third mile (14:55), by which I dropped off the back of the group and watched them steadily ease off into the distance. This is were racing gets ugly; there’s nothing to salvage other than a bit of pride and you just want it to end, the problem was I still had 10 miles to go! I was being passed by quite a few runners when Matt Clowes came past on pacing duties, though strangely he was on his own as none of the elite women seemed to have followed him despite his pace being correct. With a bit of encouragement he helped me along for a mile or so before going off ahead, which was enough to bring me back to a respectable pace. I remember around halfway, a kid shouted out “Fish, swim!”, I was inclined to reply that this fish was sinking, but decided my self deprecating humour might be lost on the 10 year old. Between 6 and 9 miles I was mainly on my own, I still felt terrible and the pace wasn’t amazing (somewhere around 5:20ish per mile), but at least I wasn’t slowing down. In the last few miles I actually made up three places, passing a couple of runners after 10 miles and then just pipping Tom Merson in the last kilometre, where I finished in 68:38 for 22nd place. It was bitterly disappointing, I am convinced I could have run a pb if I was 100%. It’s the bad races that take more out of you and I was very stiff and sore afterwards. By Tuesday I got going again and managed a solid track session with the club, so with any luck I’d be recovered by the time of the Manchester race.
I don’t know whether I shifted the illness or not, but it certainly came back with a vengeance a week later, there was no chance of putting up any kind of performance at the Manchester half and I had no choice but to withdraw. I took a full week off from running after that, I’d had enough in more ways than one. I’m now back in full swing of training and have spent the past three weeks racing whenever possible in a bid to getting my sharpness back for Ribble Valley 10k at the end of the year. I did Accrington 10k on 29th of October and surprised myself to win with 32:46 on a tough course, I turned out for the national cross country relays at Mansfield, where the team managed 30th place which is really good for a club of our standing. Rob Warner ran a blinder for us that day, with Jack Hindle doing a brilliant job on his senior debut and veteran Chris Davies putting in a stellar effort as always. I was happy with my own run and two weeks later on the 18th November I managed my first win in a cross country race in five years at the Red Rose League match at Bolton, winning by a mere second against Jonny Kay; it was a close battle all the way and must have been a good one for the spectators to watch. Again, the club is very much on the up, we won the men’s senior and veteran categories that day and Ben Costello ran superbly to finish 3rd. Elsewhere, Tim Raynes got his much deserved sub 15 minute clocking at the Podium 5k with 14:51, whilst Chris Arthur and Joe Monk had top runs at the Brampton to Carisle 10 miler (51:00 & 53:28, both achieving pb’s).