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.

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.

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.

Great Winter Run 5k

Another 6 days later and another road trip, this time to Edinburgh for the Great Winter Run 5k. For those that don’t know this is one of the now many Great Run events (the clues in the title). This one is the mass event on the roads around Holyrood Park in Edinburgh before the elites take on the XC live on the good old BBC. You may have heard of a certain Sir Mo Farah was taking part. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing Callum Hawkins and Laura Muir in action.

Sensibly I had recce’d the course the day before, however not so sensible was not checking which direction the loop of Holyrood Park the course went, therefore, I had ended up doing two laps the wrong way round!

Great Winter Run 5k, Edinburgh
Flying the red flag in my new vest at the Great Winter Run 5k, Edinburgh

Unseasonably mild conditions for race day making vest and shorts the order of the day. Runners started in waves and being one of the “Faster Paced Club Runners” ensured I started at 10.

The first quarter of a mile is flat before the race goes uphill to over 300ft by the end of the first, therefore, it’s critical to get a fast start. I made sure I did my best greyhound impression shooting out the blocks.

I don’t view myself as a very good uphill runner as anybody who has raced with me will verify. However, something strange happened. As the race went uphill I kept passing other runners. I had expected the exact opposite but apparently, I had entered a parallel universe. First mile in a not too shabby 6:37.

The course flattens out after a mile and I already knew from the day before that once you’re at the top you get a spectacular view of Edinburgh and the river. However, even during the race, it was still equally as impressive as the day before.

Approaching 2k (the course is marked in kilometres) I could hear the distinct sound of bagpipes. A nice touch by the organisers is that at the 2, 3 and 4k marks the air was punctuated by bagpipers in the full regalia giving you a little boost as you knew another k was approaching.

Taking advantage of the flatter section the second mile passed in 5:57 – it’s always good to be back in sub 6 territory. Something which I need to do in all races and especially those of a longer distance.

Great Winter Run 5k Course Profile
Excellent screenshot showing the Great Winter Run 5k Course Profile

“What goes up, must come down” is a well-worn saying in running circles but it’s so often apt. Today was no different and in a reversal of the uphill section it was me that was being passed by a few other runners. My short stride just couldn’t up the cadence to take as much of an advantage as the other runners.

However, the combination of downhill, chasing other runners and the crowds along the finishing straight meant the last mile was covered in 5:23. Job done in a fairly respectable 18:43, as ever I’d like a little more.

To finish off, I’d recommend a trip up north as it’s a well-organised race, with great crowds and a brilliant setting of Holyrood park plus the benefit of watching the elites in the afternoon. And not forgetting all the tourist things to do in Edinburgh.

Cleethorpes New Years Day 10k

1st loop - Cleethorpes New Years Day 10k

Just 6 days after the EHH Boxing Day 10k , Katy and I were on our way at just gone 8 am on New Years Day to Cleethorpes. I’m sure most of you know I’m mad but this must be new levels of lunacy even for me.

However, the case for the defence is Katy (wife and also EHH member) is pregnant with our first child, hence I thought I’d take advantage of this fact. Unlike previous New Years Eve’s Katy wouldn’t be drinking, therefore, I stuck to a couple of glasses of wine allowing me to take on the New Years Day 10k at Cleethorpes.

Race day rolled around and the forecast had me questioning this decision. We arrived at The Beachcomber with plenty of time or so I thought. The car park was full but with plenty of side streets, parking wasn’t an issue. It was obvious once we got inside most people must know how busy it is as with almost an hour and a half before the race there was plenty of runners already there.

After a good strong coffee, it was time to warm up. The start is a mile away, therefore, I left Katy to run to the start and get my 2 mile warm up in.

After de-layering, it was time to get near the start line which is down a nondescript residential side. Although the race is on New Years Day the race pays out some decent prize money up to and including tenth place ( If I only I could find a 2 minute 10k PB!) therefore I was expecting it to be busy at the front end.

After a short residential section, the race takes in a short two loop, section. It’s worth noting that this can cause some confusion as the faster runners start lapping and finish loop two they go right. Make sure you go left if you’ve only done 1 loop.

On each loop, once we got back to the sea front I lost time going into the wind. Thankfully this section finished just before 3 miles (5k in 19:07) therefore I was hopeful I could claw some time back in the second half.

3 long roads make up the majority of the second half, not the most scenic but very flat. My only complaint would be a marshal standing next to a path pointing left and then shouting at us for cutting the course short meaning I had to detour back to the road. I know it’s sometimes a thankless task, therefore, I wouldn’t normally complain but all they had to do was stand away from the racing line and at the T junction 2 metres further along.

Cleethorpes New Years 10k FinishAnyway working hard to try and keep sub 6:10 pace before the final three-quarters of a mile back into the biting headwind. I managed to raise the pace for this final section, however, the second 5k was slower covered in 19:27 for a 38:34 fishing time.

Overall considering the unfavourable conditions happy to once again finish in the 38s and only 3 seconds difference between this race and the EHH Boxing Day 10k showing excellent consistency (if a little slower than I’d like!).

Next up Great Winter Run 5k in Edinburgh.

EHH Boxing Day 10k

After a 6-month blog hiatus, I’m back. I’ve been training and racing but for some reason, I’ve neglected writing about it. I’ll rectify that and talk about my racing and training plans for next year in a separate post.

However, for now, I’ll focus on my club’s annual Boxing Day 10k. What better way to burn off some of the Christmas excesses than a 10k right on my doorstep.

An unseasonably mild day greeted the 250 runners making vests the order of the day. The sting in the tail, though (as it often is with this race) would be the headwind down the track leading back to Hull. Having done a couple of miles warm up I knew which direction the wind was coming and therefore decided to go out as quick as possible anticipating the wind holding us back once we turned the corner at Ganstead and starting heading to swine. Also, the Hornsea trail is very exposed and generally as a headwind.

Back to the start and after a short race briefing, we were off. Having been penned into the side a little I managed to find some space and catch up with the second group behind the leaders.

A rapid first mile passed in 5:53, maybe a little fast but knowing this course it was ideal as I knew I’d slow down.

Leader of the pack!

Although the course isn’t uphill, the end of the first mile and second mile does have a slight ascent meaning you have to make sure you carry on working hard to stick to the pace. At this point, we had a group of 5/6 with me leading the bunch. The second mile passed in 6:10, a little off pace with the more difficult sections to come.

As suspected after the turn at Ganstead we were greeted with a wall of wind hence a 6:14 mile and the break up of our group. 5 became 3 with Steve Remmie, Darren Edge and myself.

Running down the Hornsea Trail Track is never my favourite and today’s race was no different. I was trying to share the workload with the aforementioned two however somewhere towards the end of the track I was a good 5 metres back. 6:27 and 6:25 for miles 4 and 5 respectively won’t have helped.

Sprinting for the finish

The last mile skirts past where I live therefore I know this area well. Also, the wind was now in a favourable position meaning it was time to put the hammer down. The final mile covered in 6:13 with the 0.2 in 5:14 pace with the help of a great downhill towards our clubhouse and a battle with another runner to the finish line. I never did catch up to the two ahead.

However on reflection a solid 38:31 for 14th place out of 249 runners is a good way to end the year.

Grimsby 10k

Danny Wilson and myself - Grimsby 10k 2016

Not many people will realise that although I was born in Nottingham I actually for my sins grew up just south of the river in Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Therefore when Tape2Tape announced a 10k in my previous hometown, it was one I wasn’t going to miss.

Over 1200 runners lined up for the inaugural 10k with plenty from EHH and the other local clubs. In addition the merry band of supporters had made the trip to support the runners along the route.

The race starts at the town hall in the town centre before quickly turning left to sweep past the council depot and right at a a mini roundabout to offer us our first glimpse of People’s Park (where we would be finishing). It was around this point I had settled into a group including Danny Wilson and Keri Pearson (CoH). Danny started to gap us, so should I stick or twist. As I was still feeling pretty good I decided to twist and follow Danny hoping he wasn’t going out to fast (I wasn’t sure what pace we was doing as I wouldn’t look at my watch until 5k).

This race was always going to be a trip down memory lane and first stop was a left turn onto the first major road taking us past the Wheatsheaf, this is the pub I drank in as a student at Grimsby College. Talking of which, the route then goes past the aforementioned college, the second stop on memory lane before a left turn onto Scartho Road (drop the h unless your posh).

Myself and Danny were keeping a decent pace past the now closed Swimming Pool and the Nunsthorpe Estate (the main estate I live in, in Grimsby). At some point along here we past Eddie Rec who had gone off like a rocket. Also in the distance was my namesake Darren Edge (BEV), in the back on my mind I thought I’d try and close the gap. Knowing that Darren usually “edges” me in races and if I can get close to him I’m having a good day.

Next stop on the whistle stop tour is the entrance to the hospital. I spent many a mis-spent youth jumping on the back of the food/laundry carts (we use to call them yellow coaches) to get a lift before the route then passed the big houses which were good for a apple foraging. Up next is a left turn at Scartho past one of the many places my parents used to show rabbits (yes, rabbits!).

At the 4km mark up the only real incline Danny started to gap me. Unable to bridge the bridge the distance on the descent the route goes left onto the new road (admittedly built when I still lived in Grimsby so hardly new anymore!). Just before this I passed through 5km in around 18:50 – a little off what I’d have liked but still on target for a low 38.

After a short section the route then goes left onto the very straight Peaks Parkway. Thankfully I had been joined by a Sheffield Strider runner and could still see Danny in a group of 5 ahead. I tried to bridge the gap but I thin it was much bigger than it looked. By this point it really was hurting and as we passed through the “mad” mile it was a case of digging in and trying to maintain pace to hopefully finish in the low 38s or sub 38.

Sprint Finish - Grimsby 10k
Strong finish at the Grimsby 10k 2016

A left turn onto Weelsby Road and a relatively short section before entering the park for the final stop (and finish) down memory lane. People’s’ Park has happy memories for me having spent many a happy hour playing hide and seek and feeding the ducks there. Thankfully the happy memories will continue as after a sprint for the line I finished in 37:58 getting under the elusive 38 barrier again. It’s only taken over a year since Leven 10k 2015.

I wasn’t the only one to have a good day. Roared on by the great support Danny Wilson finished 1st harrier in 37:31 for 34th place. Not to be outdone there was pb’s for Kirsty Wilson – 43:32 (on the back of a 19 mile long run the day before!), Keith Conkerton – 44:25 and Mandy Davison – 52:34. I’m sure there were other therefore sorry if I’ve missed them.

Impeccable organisation, great support and atmosphere particularly at the start and finish, a decent good bag if that’s your kind of thing plus a fast and flat course, what’s not to like? It can only bolster Tape2Tape’s reputation as a top quality events organiser. I for one will be back as I’m sure will be many others.


Position Name Mad Mile Chip Time Gun Time
34 Danny WILSON 00:06:02 00:37:31 00:37:35
40 Darren WHITE 00:06:04 00:37:58 00:38:04
75 Eddie REX 00:06:45 00:39:38 00:39:40
79 Sara Rookyard 00:06:33 00:39:48 00:39:55
84 Tony CROSS 00:06:30 00:39:58 00:40:03
169 Ellie MANN 00:06:56 00:43:23 00:43:34
170 Chris SUMPTON 00:06:56 00:43:23 00:43:34
178 Kirsty WILSON 00:06:54 00:43:32 00:43:42
191 Stephen TICHOPAD 00:07:06 00:44:01 00:44:09
201 Dave PLAYFORTH 00:07:14 00:44:17 00:44:27
225 Keith CONKERTON 00:06:58 00:44:25 00:45:20
215 Tony Goulding 00:07:02 00:44:38 00:45:02
255 Wayne MARTINDALE 00:07:31 00:45:53 00:46:12
260 Paul REED 00:07:32 00:45:58 00:46:18
299 Katie SEDDON 00:07:35 00:46:21 00:47:05
293 Richard ALSOP 00:07:32 00:46:44 00:46:58
307 Karl ROLSTONE 00:07:42 00:47:01 00:47:16
326 David MASKELL 00:07:30 00:47:02 00:47:58
345 Linda HUART 00:07:45 00:47:54 00:48:15
346 Kelvin WESTERMAN 00:07:54 00:48:03 00:48:16
365 Lee CAMPBELL 00:08:08 00:48:06 00:48:44
367 Magdalena ZAREMBA 00:08:02 00:48:32 00:48:45
487 Martin HOWMAN 00:08:19 00:50:12 00:51:11
520 Andrew FEWSTER 00:08:50 00:51:58 00:52:10
570 Mandy DAVISON 00:08:36 00:52:34 00:53:31
588 JOHN CROSBY 00:08:35 00:52:57 00:53:53
600 Katy WHITE 00:08:51 00:53:14 00:54:13
599 Paul WRIGHT 00:08:34 00:53:36 00:54:11
685 Gary ROBINSON 00:09:32 00:55:08 00:56:07
651 Tracey ASHTON 00:09:08 00:55:13 00:55:34
698 Paul BACKEN 00:09:32 00:56:22 00:56:22
749 Graham ROGERSON 00:08:54 00:56:47 00:57:38
810 Neil MICKLEBURGH 00:09:09 00:58:43 00:59:02
878 Graham HALL 00:10:04 01:00:13 01:00:59
917 Sheila MADDISON 00:10:03 01:00:58 01:02:05

Enigma Need For Speed Half Marathon 2016

I’m writing this almost a month since race day, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the race but first let’s back up a bit.

The training started about 10 weeks before (of course I’m always doing somewhere between 30 and 50 miles a week), however with 10 weeks to go I had renewed focus and started to plan each weeks training again. By focusing on a race and planning my training this way I find it helps me stick to the schedule and ultimately run better.

The idea was to do a rolling three weeks over a 10 week period (each 3rd week would be a recovery week) as follows:

  • Wk 1 – 60+ miles
  • Wk 2 – 60+ miles
  • Wk 3 – 50 miles
  • WK 4 – 70+ miles
  • WK 5 – 70+ miles
  • Wk 6 – 50 miles
  • Wk 7 – 80+ miles
  • Wk 8 – 80+ miles
  • Wk 9 – 60+ miles
  • Wk 10 – 30 to 40 miles inc. the half marathon

Most weeks consisted of a tempo/threshold run up to 10 miles, some sort of speed work (reps), a middle distance long run midweek week, a weekend long run and then some easy miles to make up the volume.

For the most part training went well. This was confirmed with better race results (discounting Leven 10k when I was clearly poorly) including a 5k PB (18:19) at the Phil Johnson 5k.

Right, enough about training. Race week arrived and as Katy was doing the full Marathon we had decided to travel down the day before. The idea being to arrive at the hotel by 5pm giving us plenty of time to eat and chill out for the evening  (it was the same time as the Euro’s so we’d have football to watch).

Enigma Need For Speed 2016
I’m sure the rear view mirror shuldn’t be there

However things don’t always go to plan and barely out of Hull something came of the back of a truck as it turned up the Humber Bridge slip road off the A63 resulting in a very cracked windscreen. Luckily I was able to pull into the next Petrol Station. After several calls, and an hour and half wait we were towed back to Hertz on Anlaby Road. Another hour later and another hire car we were finally back on the road. After leaving our house at 12pm and although driving down at rush hour (which we had hoped to avoid) we arrived in Milton Keynes just before 8pm. On the plus side we got there in times to for the football (and to watch Wales beat Belgium).

Enigma Need For Speed 2016 - Team White Camp
Ready for a long day

After a decent night’s kip we had a short drive to Caldecotte Lake arriving at 8am which meant plenty of time to set up camp and chat to all the local runners while waiting for the 9am start for the marathon. I wouldn’t be racing until 2.30pm so I was on Team White duties for the next 4 to 5 hours. I won’t go into the details of Katy’s race as you can read her write-up. All I will say is I  was extremely proud of her completing her first marathon.

Ok fast forward to 2.30pm, after 600 miles over the last 10 weeks it all came down to this. I had two targets:

  •  A new PB and sub 85 minutes
  • Preferably sub 83
Enigma Need For Speed 2016 - Start
Start of the half marathon

I knew the loop well after doing 8 and half laps last year. These races never have a deep field therefore it would probably be a lonely run and I’d have to run it like a time trial.

I made sure I was at the front setting off at 6.20 per mile pace. A 2.5 mile section would bring us past the support area and the start of the loop. So far so good, pace was pretty much spot on but as suspected I was out on my own.

At the end of the first loop, “Foxy” said something along the lines of “you’ve got this”. However I wasn’t feeling great and struggling to stay on pace. I was unsure of my gap to second and didn’t want to take anything for granted. Anyway the real race for me was against the clock.

Enigma Need For Speed 2016
Serious Face!

The original idea was to try and get faster each loop. the reality was I was progressively losing time, instead of increasing my pace by 5 to ten seconds the opposite was happening. It didn’t help that the second half of the loop takes you past the Watersports Centre. This section was particularly windy and I now why they do windsurfing there!

By the final loop I knew any chance of sub 85 was gone. Now it was a war of nutrition and just try and keep a decent pace.

Enigma Need For Speed 2016
I think this picture sums it up perfectly.

Thankfully I was only doing the half. A gruelling last loop and I was done in 1 hour 25 minutes and 53 seconds later. At the time I was disappointed, however having plenty of time to reflect it was my 3rd fastest half. Also it was run entirely on my own which is never the easiest thing to do.

The best thing about the race was seeing all the support (especially Katy enjoying a well earned rest) every lap, the stunning scenery and watching the other runners come in. A special mention to Sara Morrow and Helen and Jamie Penn from KuHAC who were also racing.

Enigma Need For Speed 2016
All ready for the half marathon

For me the focus now shifts to the Manchester Half in October with the small matter of the Gilberdyke 10 and The Major Stone Half as key build up races in my preparation.