Saturday, 29 October 2011

North East Harrier league #2, Farringdon

NEHL number 2 today (29th October) and it was not enjoyable!

I have had a good week training, 2 rep sessions at the club and a couple of easy runs.  I was all set and looking forward to the cross country.  I was already aware that I had been promoted to the medium pack after finishing 24th at Cramlington.  This didn't really worry me as I knew I'd be chasing rather than being chased!

This was my first visit to the Farringdon course and once we arrived we set off to do a partial lap to get a feel for it.  My first thoughts were "it's bloody narrow"!  There were a few challenging climbs too but they were going to be the least of my worries.

I got prepared for the race and reached the start line at 1:15pm as instructed.  The slow pack lined up and I was amazed by the mass of runners in one group!  Then the penny dropped..... it's going to be hell trying to overtake the stragglers on such a narrow path.  The slow pack set off and the medium group stepped forward, a little thin on the ground.

Half way through the first lap I began picking off the slow club runners meandering about the course having conversations with their club mates and blocking the path.  This infuriated me so much I just barged through one couple.  As I progressed through the field the crowd became more dense and I was really struggling to get into any sort of rhythm, leaping over the verges and getting nettled on numerous occasions.

This continued up to lap 3 and by this time I had given up hope of notching up any sort of decent time and even thought to myself that I was wasting my time.  This was confounded by the look on my face when I crossed the finish line and a club mate said "god you look pissed off!".  He was right.  I wish you could demote yourself to the slow group!

Nevertheless, I have done my bit for the club and will now focus on the Derwentwater 10 next week.  I have been looking forward to for some time now.

NEHL number 3 can wait...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

North East Harrier league #1, East Cramlington

Heading for East Cramlington at around lunchtime today I was reflecting on the last time I actually competed in a cross country. I was astounded by the realisation that it was over 20 years ago!!!

Nevertheless I was quite looking forward to it knowing I would be starting in the slow pack so there wasn't really a great deal of pressure. Fellow team mates were advising not to finish in the top 30 as it would mean promotion to the medium pack for the next year and a half. This could influence team results and also mean I'd be pressured to perform at a higher level in future races.

The weather was cool but the drizzle that had started back home in Morpeth had stopped by the time I reached the venue.

I met up with a few of lads from the club and we did a recce of the course as a warm up. I knew that there'd be 3 laps which is not my favourite format for a race. Knowing exactly where you are at any one point doesn't appeal to me in the least!

1:15pm and we all made our way to the start (well the slow pack at least!) I was amazed how many competitors there were for one pack so I became a little concerned.

The gun went and we were off. I got a good start and felt quite comfortable for the first mile, doing more overtaking than vice versa. The ground was very firm due to the recent dry spell but my new inov8 fell shoes performed brilliantly. I am looking forward to wearing them on my next fell race. Very light and flexible but also very responsive!

The first lap went well and was getting into a rhythm.  The second lap didn't feel as fast but my GPS told me otherwise.  Perhaps I was thinking too much about who was behind me.  The third lap was more enjoyable.  I upped the pace a little aiming to finish strong.  I crossed the line just under 37 minutes.  I knew I was around the top 30 so I was resigned to the fact that I would probably be promoted to the medium pack.  Officially I finished 24th so I was very pleased in a way.

Looking forward to the next one but hoping to get up the eyes, just how cross country should be!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Great North Run

It has been several weeks since I ran in the Great North Run.

This was my first GNR and it couldn't have gone better on a personal level.  However....

In the days leading up to the race, I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to it!  The huge crowds of competitors, the panic before the start, the pressure of putting in a decent time and the fear of becoming chlostrophobic.

My wife dropped me off at Exhibition Park just after 9am.  Early I know, but best to be too early in my book.  I duly lined up for the portaloo, nerves starting to kick in!

I did a quick recce of where I was, where the baggage bus was and roughly where I had to be for the start.  Once I had mapped it out in my mind I took a stroll up to the baggage bus.  I was passing all sorts of runners from cigarette munchers to elite lean athletes.  I stripped off my outer layers so and packed them into my rucksack and popped it on the bus ensuring my number got stamped with the bus number so I could collect it at the end.

After a quick warm up down a back lane I made my way to the start.  I was looking for Orange A - of course the entry to each pen was at the rear so by the time I got there it was full.  Luckily everyone was focussed on the keep fit guy on the huge TV so I made my move and traversed through the crowd to the front of the pen!

By this time I was surprisingly feeling relaxed and composed saying to myself that if I got a good start, around 5:45min mile then I'd have a clearish run for the rest of the race.

The gun went off and I found myself dodging through the crowd like a slalom skier!  I was so focussed on finding the best route that I wasn't thinking of my pace.  By the time I reached mile 1 I was on schedule at 5:42.  The downhill to the Tyne bridge certainly helped.  I maintained the pace up to mile 3-4 and felt very comfortable, probably the most comfortable I have felt during a race of this length.

I checked my watch again at mile 4 and was under 6 min miles.  I was way ahead of schedule as my prediction was 1:25.  At this pace I was heading for 1:20 or less.

The crowds certainly helped and the weather was perfect, not too warm and no wind!  I maintined 6 min miles up to 10 then slowed to 6:30 for the last 3.  The  last mile didn't feel half as bad as I was led to believe, so much encouragement for which I was grateful.

I crossed the line in a new PB of 1:20:11, so close to sub 1:20!  Nevertheless I was over the moon!

My calf's were very sore for a few days after and a bit of a sore achilles still bugs me but no pain no gain! Ha!

I duly picked up my bag and got changed.  Bus back to town, pint in the Goose and picked up by my wife. A good day.

North East Harrier League this Saturday, my first one since I was a young teenager.  Should be interesting!

Courtesy of runnerwanderings