Manchester Marathon 2017

Which came first the baby or the marathon? As I write this several weeks after the fact then most, if not all will know the answer. Zachary Tomasz White was very good and arrived a whole 11 days late ensuring the weeks of training were not wasted.

A Story of a Thousand Miles

Talking of training this wouldn’t be a race report from me without a little training retrospective. I’ve had many conversations with Pete Dearing and we both subscribe to the training methodology of lots of volume with the majority easy combined with harder sessions. He would always try to do 1000 miles from the start of the year in the build up to London. I’d have three weeks less but had no problem trying to hit this type of target mileage in my build up. With the impending birth and a massive change on the horizon, I was even more determined to nail the training.

With that in mind, a typical week would be as follows

  • Monday: PM – Easy 9
  • Tuesday:
    • AM – Easy 6
    • PM: EHH Speed Work – 3 x 1200m, 1x 800m and 1 x 400m
  • Wednesday:
    • Am – Easy 6
    • PM – 14 Midweek LSR
  • Thursday: PM – Strength: 5 x 2 miles @ 6:20 per mile with 0.5 recovery plus 3 up and down
  • Friday: AM – Recovery 5
  • Saturday: AM – 7.5, Parkrun p(in 18:05 BTW) plus warm up and cool down.
  • Sunday: AM – 21.2 – Fast long run including warm up

That was a 98-mile week, admittedly I didn’t always hit those giddy heights however over the 17-week build up (from start of December) I think I averaged around 80 miles a week.

One thing I did learn is to keep some flexibility and don’t have hard targets for each run. Rather I would have a range (e.g. 5-7 miles ….. ), therefore, allowing me to keep it shorter if I was struggling on a particular day. Also combining runs with commuting was a great way to increase the mileage without impacting on home life (something I’ll be relying on in the future no doubt).

The key sessions each week were the “strength” reps. e.g. 5 x 2 miles @ 6:20 per mile with 0.5 recovery plus 3 up and down and the fast long runs. As the saying goes, train slow, run slow therrefore in my opinion, any experienced marathon looking to run fast has to do some long hard runs to get their body ready.

If you’re interested I manage to get in 1030 miles from the 1st January to race day.

Race Weekend

Originally we had planned to get the train but due to Katy now being 2 days overdue we reverted to plan B. I would drive down on my own late Saturday afternoon thus ensuring I could get back to Hull in the quickest possible time if needs be.

After a fitful nights sleep, race morning arrived. It would have been nice to have had a good nights sleep but after London, in 2015 I know that I can still perform and the night before isn’t that important. Rather than hang around the hotel I got myself fed and showered and made the massive 6-minute tram journey to the start.

In hindsight, I was maybe a little too eager as this meant arriving before 7.30 am with over an hour and a half to kill. There was only one thing for it, find the Costa and get a good strong coffee. One benefit of arriving so early was I was able to soak up the atmosphere, relax and talk to some other runners before the start.

Show Time

Before the start, I met up with Danny Wilson (DW) and Tom Dawson (TD). Having spoken to Tom via messenger the night before I knew we were both going to try and hit 6:30 per mile (or as I put it 8 x 5k’s in 20 minutes plus a bit – I’d be tracking the marathon in kilometres and keeping an eye on the average pace hopefully staying under 4 minutes per kilometres), therefore, the plan would be to run together. Danny, on the other hand, said he was going to start with us for the first 5 to 6 miles and the settle into 6:45 pace (yeah right!).

Just before the start and Danny Jones (DJ) managed to find us. And before you know it we were off. The first mile is slightly downhill (having done the half marathon last October as a recce I was aware of part of the course) and is always quick.

Manchester Marathon - Awesome FoursomeWe stayed together as a four and once it started to spread out after the first couple of miles we must have looked a fairly imposing site. There was plenty of shouts of “Go East Hull as we got into a rhythm with different people sharing the lead”. I really enjoyed this part with the four of us as a group.

At the 3 mile mark, it was great to see Linda and Kadi Huart out in support. In fact, the support along this part, in particular, is great as the course goes back past the start ensuring big crowds lining the route. First 5k in 19:56, pretty much spot on.

I’m not sure when but somewhere around the 6-mile mark, 4 became 3. DJ after a 3-week hiatus in Iranian dropped off the pace. On his day with a sub 2hours 43 track marathon PB, he could have shown us all a clean pair of heels.

The next 5k/3-miles is one long road and the three of us stuck together picking up the pace slightly covering it in 19:44. A little fast but still feeling comfortable.

The course then twists and turn a little around Sale. It was at this point around 8/9-miles I started to gap the others slightly. I’m adamant that I didn’t speed up and they slowed down slightly, although I’m sure DW and TD would say otherwise.

After Sale, the course follows a couple of long road towards Altrincham. This covers the next 10km with splits of 20:02 and 19:53 for each 5k segment. You never quite make it to Altrincham, as the course start to turn back and the long run for home (albeit via very scenic route).

Manchester Marathon - Down to 3I reached half way in around 85 minutes. It wasn’t so long ago I would have been happy with that for a half marathon. Now I was trying to do 2 back to back.

By 14/15-miles the legs were starting to tire and the right hamstring was getting tight. This wasn’t wholly unexpected as I use my right side more than the left, therefore, niggles do tend to appear in the right leg. One rest bite and distraction from the next two miles there is a steady stream of runners going in the other direction. I was able to occupy my mind with spotting red vest going in the opposite direction.

However, this didn’t stop the inevitable decline happening as the effort really started to kick in. From around miles 15/16, it was going to be the usual war of attrition. The next 2 5ks passed in 20:00 and more tellingly 20:29 respectively.

The last 6 miles were a real slog, I was expecting DW and TD to come flying passed me at any point. I had no idea how near or far they were and looking back the gap was never more than 40 seconds. The inevitable happened around 20 miles with TD passing me and looking very strong. The gap started to grow and I thought that would be the last I saw of him. Also strangely my left calf started to spasm every so often. I just hoped it would hold out until the end.
It’s ironic that when you need the crowds the most, marathon courses end up in slightly more remote areas. And let us be honest, who wants to watch the miles just before the end of the marathon. By now I was being very negative in my head but obviously kept moving forward. However, my drop in pace shows with the next 5ks in 21:06 and 21:40. It was a good job there was only a couple of k’s to go.

Then with a mile to go something miraculous started to happen, maybe it was the smell of the finishing crowd or the ever increasing crowd or the glimpse of DW just behind and TD just ahead but the legs started to pick up the pace again. I even managed to finish back on MP pace even if it was just the last half a mile.

Manchester Marathon Pacing

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Manchester Marathon - Finishing Strong Albeit In PainFrom the outset I had said to anybody that asked I was training for a 2:50, realistically this may be closer to 2:55, therefore, to finish in 2 hours 52minutes and 45 seconds was truly magnificent. And to cap it off I was very happy to be the first Harrier home closely followed by DW and TD. As ever I have to thank Katy for the support and the countless meals I came home to throughout the training. I’d also like to thank my club mates for the training runs pushing me to achieve better times.

Baby ZachAlso a big respect to the other EHH members out there. Lots of good times, impressive PB’s and first times smashing it.

As for the future, I’ll be retiring from Marathons (yes again) for the time being to focus on shorter distances which will be more compatable with family life. I have the small matter of trying to be the best father I can be to this little fella.

Cleethorpes AC 5k Prom Race

Once again I was making the relatively short journey south of the river. Having not run in Grimsby/Cleethorpes for the best part of my first 6 years of running, I have now run there 3 times in 6 months with the Grimsby 10k again this year to come.

The drive over was relatively pain-free with only a little traffic at the roundabouts into Grimsby at the end of the A180. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t need to pee! I had got out of work a little early giving me time to grab a (very strong) coffee from Costa before collecting my number.

Handily the start is about a mile away near Cleethorpes Leisure Center which always makes the warm-up decision easy. However, I started by running away from the start to see where the far turn was. At this point nothing was setup but it did give me a feel for the course and work out the wind would be against us on the way back to the start. For those that don’t know the course starts at the Leisure centre, following the promenade all the way to the end before doing an 180 around a roundabout then all the way back to the start for another 180 and then just over half a mile to the finish.

After the warm-up, I made my way to the start getting myself close to the front. Before the race, I’d have been more than happy with sub 18 believing that is the sort of shape I’m in. At the very least another sub 18:30, anything above that would have been very disappointing.

As ever it was a rapid first mile to find some space plus all my best races I have a fast first mile and then slow down to “race pace”. First mile completed in 5:33 and feeling fairly comfortable, if I could keep this up I could absolutely smash my 5k PB. Around the mile and a quarter point, we make the turn to head back, I was just gaining on two other runners with the first lady catching me.

After the turn, we all came together and with the wind against started to work together well with various people taking turns on the front. Second mile in 5 minutes 50 seconds. Slowing as expected but hopefully, I could drag something extra out in the last mile and a bit. Failing that I would get the sub 18 had hoped for.

2.5 miles and the group of 4 is now 3, myself, another guy and current first lady. We now had the benefit of the wind and I had hoped I’d have a strong finish. Unfortunately, my legs went and the aforementioned started to push on. It was disappointed to be gapped but I still crossed the line in 17:52 for 11th place. A massive 5k PB on tired legs and big step forward.

Snake Lane 10

Snake Lane 10 2017

Coming into Snake Lane I was expecting a big result. It’s hard to be objective as I write this post race. However averaging 90 miles a week since the start of the year and some stellar speed and long strength sessions meant confidence was high.

Come race day and handily the start is about a mile away therefore after the usual pre-race pitstops myself and Danny W warmed up by running to the start line and adding a bit on. At this point, we bumped into club mates Danny J and Tom D. Danny J wasn’t racing but would be on pacing duties for Tom.

After a brief catch up it was time to get to the start. We were stood a little far back to one side therefore in the process of “losing” my warm-up t-shirt I got closer to the front, however, this meant I was no longer with the aforementioned. I wasn’t worried as I assumed they would catch me up at some point and it would allow me to run my own race at least initially.

The plan would be to go out hard as this course unlike Ferriby 10 is an easier first half, therefore, the aim would be to get to half way as close to 30 minutes as possible if I was going to get close to the converted hour mark.

The first 3 miles passed reasonably comfortable in 5:52, 5:57 and 5:54. Danny W caught me somewhere between the first and second mile but all in all, there wasn’t much to write home about.

Snake Lane 10  2017 - approx. 6 miles
Looking happy…. not!

Likewise, mile 4, although I had slowed to 6:12 (albeit on a slight incline), which was OK but I had hoped to be up on pace come halfway.

At mile 4 we take a left-hand turn and then the fun begins. I had hoped for a wind free day but it never as been and it wasn’t fourth time lucky. Danny W mentioned struggling and I told him to hang in there, at which point he promptly started to gap me, 5th and 6th miles in 6:07 and 6:11 respectively.

Just before 6 miles I was caught by Tom D and Danny J. I tried to tag on and did for about half a mile but by the end of the 7th mile, they had gapped me. The 7th mile in 6:17 by the way.

Now it was a real test of attrition. I was really struggling and knew I was way off the pace. I thought I could still get under 61 but it would be tight. I could still see my club mates ahead and this gave me the motivation to keep digging. The last 3 miles is one road back into Pocklington. It was surprisingly undulating affecting my pace, I really just wanted to finish. 8th mile in 6:25 and 9th in 6:20.

Snake Lane 10 2017
Just about managing a sprint finish for the crowds

I always like the sprint for home at this race with a decent crowd lining the streets on the run in and this year was no different allowing me to cover the last mile in 6:14 crossing the line just as the clocked turned to 1hour 1minute and 36seconds. I had to have a little chuckle as this was exactly the time I got at Ferriby 10, so much for sub 61! Hopefully, chip time would be slightly faster although I did start near the front.

Target 2:50:00 – Week 9 (27th February to 5th March)

Week 9 and I was hoping to get back into the 100-mile range. However, I missed a couple of runs and was just a little short of a couple of others, therefore, topped out at 86 as follows:

Week 9 – 86.2MI (11H 7M)

Monday
AM: 6mi easy

Tuesday
AM: 5mi easy
PM: 9.6mi (3.5mi warm-up + 3 mi speed work + 3mi cool down)

Wednesday
PM: 15mi LSR

Thursday
AM: 6mi easy
PM: 10.3mi – strength workout: 4 x 1 mile @ 6:20 off 0.5 (plus 3 warm-up and 2ish cool down)

Friday
PM: 8 mi easy

Saturday
AM: 14.6 mi hard (race, sort of)

Sunday
AM: 11.5 mi easy

I cut Monday short as my legs were still beat up unsurprisingly from the race the day before. Tuesday then would be my first hard session and I chose to keep it short and do the clubs 3-mile speed session (3 x 1200m, 1x 800m and 1 x 400m). Not a bad session but just over 50 seconds slower for the reps in total shows the legs weren’t entirely recovered. It also didn’t help that there were only 5 runners that turned up.

Thankfully the legs had recovered somewhat for Thursday strength workout evening finishing in 6:09 for the last rep. I chose to stick to 4 reps and keep the overall volume low as I’d be running the short loop of the Golden Fleece Circuit.

After an easy Friday, Saturday rolled around and it would be an early start for the Golden Fleece circuit. It’s not really a race but I think a few at the pointy end treat it as such. Hard work but getting on for 20 minutes quicker than last year (what a difference an extra 400+ miles by this point in the year makes) therefore second place in 1:44:01 behind me old mucker Danny W.

Target 2:50:00 – Week 8 (20th to 26th February)

Another race week, therefore, the target was 75 to 80 miles as follows:

Week 8 – 77.9MI (10H 7M)

Monday
AM: 7mi easy

Tuesday
AM: 6mi easy
PM: 10mi easy

Wednesday
AM: 5 mi easy
PM: 13mi LSR

Thursday
AM: 5.2mi easy
PM: 12.5mi strength workout, 4 x 1.5 mi with 0.5 mi recovery (plus 3 warm-up and 2’ish cool down)

Friday
Rest Day

Saturday
AM: 6 mi easy

Sunday
AM: 13.1 mi (1. 5mi warm-up + 10 mi race + 1.6 mi cool down)

After last weeks hard week, I decided to keep it easy Monday and Tuesday as the legs were feeling particularly heavy and fatigued.

Therefore it was Thursday before I did a hard session (even Wednesday long run was on the shorter side). With one eye on Snake Lane at the weekend, Thursday’s strength session was on the shorter side. All reps were spot on and were, in fact, a little under the 6:20 per mile pace.

I’ll do a full report for Sunday but in summary, a bit disappointed not to go under 61 or at the very least under 61:30. However, a PB is a PB even if it’s only 2 seconds!

Next 2/3 weeks are the final big weeks before tapering. Although I do have a 15 miler off road and a 5k planned.

Target 2:50:00 – Week 7 (13th to 20th February)

Hull parkrun # 366 - 17/02/2017

I’ll let myself of being short of 100 by only 1.8 miles as it was an epic week of training as follows:

Week 7 – 98.2MI (12H 17M)

Monday
PM: 9.8mi – Base Mileage

Tuesday
AM: 6mi – Base Mileage
PM: 9.7mi – 3mi speed plus warm-up and cool down

Wednesday
AM: 6mi – Base Mileage
PM: 14mi – Midweek LSR

Thursday
PM: 18.4mi – Strength: 5 x 2 miles @ 6:20 per mile with 0.5 recovery plus 3 up and down

Friday
AM: 5mi – Recovery

Saturday
AM: 7.5mi – Parkrun – 3mi warm-up + 3.1mi parkrun + 1.5mi cool down

Sunday
AM: 21.2mi – Long Run

The first key session of the was Tuesday’s speed work with the club. After an extended warm-up it was 3 x 1200m, 1 x 800m and 1 x 400. I averaged my fasted ever time of 5:21 per mile for the session which shows the training is working plus I even managed to get quicker as the reps got shorted. Sometimes I struggle with the middle 800m.

Round the houses, Thursday’s Epic Run Route

Wednesday was all about volume as usual before Thursday monstrous strength workout. Most of the 2-mile reps were there or thereabouts, just a little slow for the last two, although the wind didn’t help. Just over 18 miles for a workout isn’t to be sniffed at.

Friday I dropped to a single session to try and recover before Saturday as I wanted to test myself at Parkrun.

Hull parkrun # 366 - 17/02/2017
Working hard and dodgy form in the last half of mile

Come Saturday and I really wasn’t sure how the legs would hold up. I know I’m in reasonable shape therefore if they were fresh then I should be able to get a good time. I went with the leading runners (bar 1 who was way off the front). 5:45 for the first mile and it didn’t feel as bad as it could. Slower for the next two plus avoiding traffic in the third but came away with an 18:05 for a parkrun PB and my fastest average pace for a “race”. Then only downsides are being outsprinted at the end by a club mate and not breaking 18:00. However, it’s fuel for another day.

For Sunday I had rather foolishly scheduled a fast long run. In the end, I went out with some of the boys so my plan went out the window. Probably for the best as I was shattered and couldn’t have held 6:30 for 16 miles. Nobody else wanted to run really fast so we settled into around 6:45, I averaged 6:48 but I did fall off the back towards the end and could have been dropped at any point if they had wanted to speed up. I can’t be entirely disappointed with the run as considering my week’s mileage, what I had done in the second half of the week then I know there is a lot more in the tank.

Overall a really good week. Next week I have Snake Lane 10 therefore I’ll be front-loading the week and sticking to two hard sessions for the week.

Ferriby 10

Now that was a surprise, let me back up a little.

Prior to the race, I’ve done 100 miles for week 1, 106 miles for week 2. Ferriby 10 falls in week 3 with the aim of doing 75 miles including the race.

Raceday and I didn’t feel that great, the two cups of coffee helped, however, confidence wasn’t high. Particularly as I had also been feeling sluggish the few days before the race. At least the rain had missed us and a largely frost free morning with a glorious sunrise gave the runners an almost perfect racing day.

Danny Wilson, one of my club mates and training partners was racing this one and his target time of 63 minutes sounded good. My PB for 10 miles is 64:14 (slow considering I have a 37:35 10k PB) therefore I’d definitely take something in that region.

Ferriby 10 Course Profile
Ferriby 10 Course Profile

As for the race, I positioned myself in my now customary position of just behind the “fast” lads. The race starts with a super fast downhill before a sharp right turn. This makes for a fast and manic start with the race luring you into a false sense of security. Ferriby 10 is well known for having a hard first half with an easier second half.

I went with the early pace as I knew what was to come. Although 5:48 for the first mile was maybe a little too rapid!

After the relative ease of the first mile, it’s then a long slog up to Little Weighton Road. I dropped back a little from the group I was running with, as ever I wasn’t too worried as I struggle on the uphill sections. The second mile completed in 6:28 which is to be expected.

A short sharp descent into Little Weighton allows you to pick up the speed before it rises steeply again past the pubs in the village. A right bend and the course carries on rising for the next mile along a quiet country road. At this point, I had to tell myself to dig in and push on. The 3rd mile in 6:19 with two more undulating miles to come. At the time it felt awful but I had no idea of the pace.

The 4th mile takes you along Westoby lane towards Riplingham, the start of which was the only part to remain icy. My choice of very low profile racing flats didn’t help matters! 4th and 5th mile in 6:34 and 6:30 respectively.

Ferriby 10 2017
Losing touch with Danny about halfway in

Finally just before Riplingham at the left turn is the 5-mile mark. Before the race, I wouldn’t allow myself to look at my watch until the half way point. Thankfully all the hurt was worth it as I passed halfway 31:42, a good two minutes better than ever before with the best section to come. Danny had gapped me at this point but I had hoped to catch him back up once we got to the downhill.

As mentioned we turn left at Riplingham for the long descent to Raywell (with a little bump for good measure). 5:49 and 5:58 for miles 6 and 7. Just before the 7-mile mark, there are a few bends and some of the drivers are complete morons, overtaking when they have no idea what is coming and having to pull sharply in almost taking out a couple of runners ahead. Is being delayed by 20/30 seconds that big of a deal?

Back to the race and another left turn brings you onto the long run for home. I never enjoy this section as I’m always in a world of pain and it goes on forever. 2 and a half miles before the next turn with the windmill in site once you hit a mile to a mile and half to go can be very demoralising. However this year I was having the Ferriby race of my life, therefore, it was a case of banishing any demons and digging in. 7th and 8th mile in 5:51 and 6:03, perfect, I even got delusional and thought maybe a sub 61 was on the cards. Also by this point any thoughts of catching Danny were long departed and the focus was on form, pace and getting to the finish.

Ferriby 10 - Skidby Mill Climb
Skidby Mill Climb

However, Ferriby is the race that just keeps on giving and with half a mile to go you take a left turn and head uphill. When warming up I ran down and up and it didn’t seem as steep as I always remember. How foolish was I, with 9 and a half miles in the legs it was a real slog. I don’t normally pay attention to segments on Strava but for this one I did and it was my best ever, yet it still felt so slow!

One last push for a 61:36 finish, some 2minutes 38 quicker than my 10-mile PB and that was on a flat course. I was 31 out of 708 finishes.

Target 2:50:00 – Week 6 (6th to 12th February)

Another solid week of training and racing. Again it’s not 100 miles but still just over 90.

Week 6 – 91.2MI (11H 47M)

Monday
Rest Day!

Tuesday
AM: 6mi – Base Mileage
PM: 11.6mi – Tempo ten with club plus short warm-up and cool down

Wednesday
AM: 5mi – Base Mileage
PM: 12mi – Base Mileage

Thursday
PM: 8.7mi – 6 x 1k plus warm-up and cool down

Friday
AM: 5.1mi – Base Mileage
PM: 9mi – Base Mileage

Saturday
AM: 13mi – 7mi Winter League race plus warm-up

Sunday
AM: 20.5mi LSR

In the end, Monday became an unplanned rest day. Seeing as I hadn’t had one since Christmas Day, I’ll let myself off.

That meant going into Tuesday’s tempo I was much fresher than normal (particularly after an easy Sunday the previous week). I ran with the club and in all fairness was a little slower than I would have liked, ideally closer to 6:30 average. However, it was good to feel so comfortable running a 6:44 average for 10 miles.

Due to family commitments Thursday I drove to work and then stopped by the track on the way home for a quick session as I had to be back at 7 pm. After a decent warm-up, it was 6 x 1k reps targeting 3:30 per km, splits of 3:31, 3:31, 3:32. 3:32, 3:29 and 3:29 off a 400m recovery. Pretty pleased with those splits and considering I was being snowed on at one point.

Another reason for keeping Thursday’s session short was my club’s Winter League on the Saturday. I’ll have a full report shortly but another strong winter league showing placing 2nd on actual time. Admittedly it wasn’t a stacked field with only 52 runners but hey you can only race who is there.

Sunday’s long run was a real tester, not only was it a proper LSR aiming to run around 8-minute mile pace (sometimes I find longer runs challenging mentally just because I’m out there for a long time), the weather was the worse it’s been for a long time. However, it could be like that race day and I got through it. The best thing was how comfortable the pace felt and if need be I could have run further (although my hands may have a different opinion).

Target 2:50:00 – Week 5 (30th January to 5th February)

After the high of last weeks Ferriby 10 and the welcome relief of a lower mileage week it was back to the grind this week.

Week 5 – 90.9MI (12H 14M)

Monday
AM: 9mi Easy (Commute)

Tuesday
AM: 11.7mi – Strength: 3 x 2 mile @ 6:20 plus 3 warm up + cool down

Wednesday
AM: 5.8mi – Base mileage
PM: 12mi – Midweek LSR

Thursday
PM: 11.4mi – Base mileage

Friday
AM: 9.1mi – Base mileage
PM: 5mi – Base mileage

Saturday
AM: 18.5mi – Fast long – 3 x 3 mi, 1 x 2 mi @ MP with 1 mi recovery with 3 mi warm-up plus cool down

Sunday
AM: 8.1mi – Base Mileage

As usual, the first key session of the week was Tuesday. After the previous weekend’s race, I took it easy Monday and due to having a class post work on Tuesday I attempted a strength session on the morning. 3 x 2-mile first thing with a decent headwind was never going to be pretty and that’s how it transpired. Of course, 1 bad session doesn’t matter and it was still a decent 12-mile session.

The rest of the week ended up being base mileage. I had planned to do hills on Thursday but to save time I ran home from work and with one eye on Saturdays long fast run kept it steady.

As we were off away for the weekend I made sure I got out the door relatively early Saturday, this time for a fast long run. I didn’t like the idea of doing tempo/MP pace for 12 to 16 miles therefore instead did a long strength workout. The 3-mile reps went well with only the first 3 slightly off the pace. The final quick two were added in last minute as the run was still on the short side even with a cool down.

Overall I may not have hit triple digits for the week, however, 90 miles is still a good amount particularly after a hard race the week before and being away the Saturday and Sunday night at the end of the week.

EHH Club Cross Country Champs 2016/2017

EHH CLUB CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPS 2016/2017

Who doesn’t enjoy 8 miles off road through muddy fields, across ditches and navigating around fences?

At 2 pm on Saturday 14th, you’d find me just about to start the third race in my running Clubs Winter League Race Series. This race for the men is the longest (but not the hardest) and as the added kudos of being our cross country championship race. A trophy is up for grabs for the winner as well as the first new member to finish. I’m unlikely to ever win the race outright but I can at least console myself with the fact I did win the latter trophy when finishing 5th in 2015.

Anyway rather than reminiscing, onto the race. As ever I had a cheeky look to see who was there. Likely candidates would be Danny Jones and Jeff McQueen. However, both are generally quicker and DJ has been running very strong lately.

The first section runs alongside the drain and leads to a fast start. I had the added motivation of wanting to get some space between me and the mass of runners behind as there is a gate to negotiate. A fast group broke away with me in the second group with the aforementioned Jeff and Addie.

EHH Club Cross Country Champs 2016/2017
3 miles down, 5 to go!

After about half a mile the course takes a right turn skirting a football field and the outer perimeter of Loglands. This is the most runnable section which is probably why it felt good at this point (and we were still in the first mile). A short sharp climb before a nice descent to finish off the first mile, passed in decent 6:23.

After the first mile, the course takes in 2 fields, the first of which as a decent grass edge and isn’t too muddy except for the first right-hand corner making the going reasonably ok. However, the majority of the second mile takes in another field with very soft mud that no matter what footwear I use my trainer grow to twice their size. At this point, I started to loose contact with Jeff who is a demon at traversing the mud. However the second mile was still completed in 6:36 and third in 6:46, for me that’s pretty good. Hopefully, I could keep that up or at the very least stick to under 7 minutes per mile.

The third mile brings you back around Loglands before run back along the drain, a short section to cross a road and back along the other side of the drain before joining the Hornsea Trail (and a section of tarmac) just before the 4-mile mark. 4th mile in 7 minutes which wasn’t a good sign, the gap to those in front increasing all the time.

The relief of the trail and tarmac is short lived as another field beckons with a left turn. It’s normally one of the bad ones but this year although it was still very sticky in places, thankfully there was an edge of grass in places which you could run on. By the end of the 5th mile, completed in 7:08, Jeff had a commanding lead which I was unlikely to bring back. The only consolation I couldn’t see anybody in the field behind me.

EHH Club Cross Country Champs 2016/2017
I think the face says it all, about 7 miles in

A little jump over a drain, around another field before the more runnable section as the course takes in a farmers track. Another drain to negotiate, this time while holding onto a fence. I would have expected to make up some time but in fact, it was the slowest mile completed in 7:13.

Finally the long drag to the finish following the drain, back over the trail and road. The 7th mile in 6:49, and final 0.8 in 5:22 to finish 6th in 53:18, a full 50 seconds behind Jeff. However, I was 3:42 in front of 7th. It was tough although some of the miles were over 7 minutes, my average pace of 6:50 per mile is pretty good for me when it comes to cross country.