A barren spell of races for me...nothing in January due to the cancellation of the Brass Monkey so it was training (of sorts) for events later in the year that took priority. A steady seven week block of base training after Christmas has been just that...steady. Averaging 50 or so miles per week with little or no quality work except for a few treadmill sessions meant that the first race of the year was going to be a tough one. I was happy that this was going to be a 2.2 mile relay leg at the Signals Relays. I was happily in the B team so no pressure. In the days leading up to the event it seemed an appearance in the A team was looking likely...Pressure? Defending champions and a quality line up - a little maybe!
Taking over in the lead (thanks to a brilliant run by Russ Best) meant an old hand like me could be sensible, not get carried away and run a steady leg to hand over to a younger faster team mate.....if only...yes i went way too fast on the first lap, paid for it on the second lap and felt like I ran through treacle at the finish!
For at least three days afterwards my legs reminded me of my stupidity! We did however end up with the Bronze medal which was a great bonus and my first North east medal.
It also gave me a welcome boost as I trained well that week and did my first interval based session of 2013 with a 6 x 800 set at around 10km pace....got to start somewhere.
Onto the weekend just gone....the Friday night conversation went like this:
Me to Eldest Son: Do you fancy going to watch the National Cross Country tomorrow?
Son to Me: OK! Are you running?
Me to Son: No I'm running on Sunday at the Snake Lane 10!
Son to Me: I don't fancy it then.
Me to Son: If I was running would you come and watch?
Son to Me: Yes.
Me to Son: Well I quite fancy running it....
So on it went and I realised I did actually quite fancy the "national". On my doorstep. greatest race in the domestic calender and on a course that was quite entertaining when I last ran on it in 2007. Three things quite oddly stick out from the day:
1. The sound of mud was quite intense for the first mile...mud is loud when there is a 1000 plus runners travelling at speed in it!
2. There was a runner called Henry who was running with me on the second lap who must have had a bus full of supporters with him...greatest number of shout outs for an individual!
3. The start of the National is one of the most awesome running experiences you will ever have...everyone should experience it at some point in their running career!
The 2013 National was quite probably the muddiest cross country I have ever run in I ended up more than pleased with 290th on the day.
Not quite my best ever National (267th in 1995) but pleasing all the same!
The "slog" that was the "National" meant that the planned run at Snake Lane 10 would be a different race. I knew from the training I had been doing (lots of steady, not a lot of speed) meant that a fairly unspectacular run at Pocklington was on the cards. Running the National the day before gave me a perfect excuse to treat the race as a decent race pace effort and see where I was for Thirsk 10 in four weeks.
Stood on the start line at Pocklington I realised that actually I was pretty tired...legs were aching and I thought a target of 57/58 minutes would be a good target to build on for Thirsk 10 in four weeks time. A tough headwind in the first four miles gave way to a super fast section between 4.5 and 7 miles. At 7 miles I knew that I was on borrowed time! The last three miles saw me dig deep, count down the miles and hang on. Turning into Pocklington High Street the clock showed 57.50...I went for it and mustered up a final sprint to cross the line in 57.59..job done sub 58 and happy days....
Official results showed 23rd place and 58:00 exactly...if only I had done a dip finish!
The weekends efforts have focused my mind...given me some food for thought...some targets to beat and some people to target...that is once my legs stop aching!