Archive for June, 2015


On Sunday 21st June I ran my second 10k race the Pudsey 10k. As a child I grew up near Pudsey and always remember it as being flat. However in the intervening years not only is my memory failing me but someone has been and trampled over Pudsey and given it hills, quite a few challenging hills at that! A good friend of mine from the running community Nic, did warn me about the hills and not to underestimate the course, so I approached the race with an open mind and ready for some steep climbs!

Training had been going well, a nice 7.7 miles over the moors in the rain and a good club run around some of the local trails had prepared me nicely for Sunday. I didn’t do my normal parkrun on the Saturday deciding instead to save my legs for the race. I’m learning quickly that recovery is important and this proved to be a good plan.

On the Saturday I volunteered at the Lister Park, parkrun in Bradford as a marshal. I believe in giving something back if you use and enjoy a sport or pastime. I’m sure that when I have run there have been others in my position helping out and giving me the opportunity to run so it’s only fair to support them too.

In the afternoon I went to my village’s 1940s day and met one of the elite runners from my club Martin. We had a good chat about the 1940s day and running and he gave me some very good advice, don’t go out and drink the night before a race. I have done it in the past and I’ve managed to get round but this time I took the advice on-board and didn’t have a beer that night.

On the day of the race I woke up feeling a bit rough, probably due to lack of beer the night before and actually felt like giving it a miss. But I managed to drag my lazy backside out of my pit and was soon on my way to Pudsey. Luckily for me I know where Pudsey is and so this time I managed to not get lost and even got a really good parking spot next to the park where the event was being held.

I saw a couple of other runners from my club there and some others had come to support us which was nice of them. I spotted some other runners I know but as is often the case before a race everybody is getting themselves psyched up for the big event and we just nodded and mumbled a ‘hello’ to each other under our breath.

And then it was time to go. It had started to rain but I don’t mind the rain so it didn’t bother me. We did a loop of the square in Pudsey and then we were off on the roads heading for the trails. As is becoming the norm for me I felt like stopping and going home, but I just told my legs to shut up and get on with it and as soon as we hit the trails I was feeling ready to race.

The course was very tough and challenging with some tricky downhills to negotiate and some steep climbs to conquer. The first climb was a long, long drag out of some woods. This climb seemed to go on forever and then we hit a bit of flat where we could catch our breath before the next climb.

The next climb came again after a similar route to the first climb, downhill and then there it is and it was a steep one no question about that! I decided to walk up this as there were still a couple of miles to go after and I wanted to leave some energy in the tank so I had enough to get home with.

After this climb we entered roads and housing and were soon weaving our way round Pudsey. From the last climb though I had picked up a couple of runners who seemed content to sit on my tail and use me as a pacer. I wasn’t too happy about this but there wasn’t a lot I could about it either. I could slow down and let them pass me or just get on with. I decided to just get on with it and see what happened at the end.

On one of the roads however my race nearly came to an end. A woman was getting in a van and she waved one runner through with a smile and then opened her car door on me! I thought at one point she was only going to open it half-way but she opened it fully just as I was going past. Luckily I hit it with my thigh which left a nice red mark but if it had hit my knee it would have been a lot worse.

After uttering something under my breath I carried on and soon the 1km mark was upon me. And then the 400m and 200m mark. These seemed to make it harder and drag the race out so I envisaged in my mind what distance I had left and this got me round. And soon we were back in the park and on the home straight. It was at this point that one of the runners who had been tailing me shouted ‘come on you t**t’. I wasn’t sure if it was aimed at me or not but I took it personally and sprinted off away from him and the other runner who had been tailing me. I don’t know who was more shocked, them or me. I was surprised I had this amount of pace left in me!

One of my friends who had come to support me filmed my sprint and whilst it is definitely not the most elegant running style by a long way it is effective and it did the job which is what mattered most.

And my time? 1:05:21 a new Personal Best knocking 9:25 off my previous PB! It would have been nice to have gone under 1:05 but I couldn’t complain getting a new PB on a very tough course. Overall it had been a very good experience. The course is wider than Bolton Brow which gives you a margin for error but not much. This extra width makes it faster and you have to have your wits about you or you will come a cropper.

It was really nice to get some lovely comments when I got home too from a couple of very nice runners who I think are very talented, telling me how proud they were of me showing the guts and determination I did in giving it everything I had and a bit more on a challenging course. All in all a very good day and now I feel more prepared for the Eccup 10 than did before.

About Rather Be Runnin’

Posted: June 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

About Rather Be Runnin’.


Last Saturday I ran my usual parkrun at Horton Park. I’m really getting to like this course as it is a challenge and a great wakeup call on a Saturday morning whether you have been out or not! It was a pleasant, sunny morning and I ambled round at my usual pace enjoying my running. At the end I did my now customary sprint for the line and went to talk to one of the other QRC runners Neil.

Neil has only just started running again but he is fast around 211/2 minutes for a 5k. He asked me if I was doing the Bolton Brow Burner and I asked him what it was! It turned out it was a challenging 10k race the next day, one where you could turn up and just run it. I’ve got the Pudsey 10k in just under 2 weeks as I write this but I thought what the hell, no time to think about it, go for it!

I had a couple of pints at the club that afternoon but was in bed early as I am not very good at getting up on a morning after a session on the beer. Sunday morning came and I was up bright and early, feeling good and ready to race!

I set off early as I am well known for getting lost and today was no exception. I drove past the venue at least once and ended up miles out of my way. A journey that should have taken me 15 minutes ended up taken me 1 hour 15 minutes. The lesson here is to never let me give directions in any form of transport.

But I finally arrived at the registration point and within minutes I had entered my fist 10k race not knowing where I was, where the race was or what the course was like. All I could see around me were hills, steep hills so I guessed I would be running up at least one of them at some point.

Off to the start we all went a car park at the side of the canal but as good as anywhere. After hanging around for around ½ hour during which most of the men were running off to have a pee, we were told to line up and then we were off!

The race started on the canal for a mile or so, just nice and steady and I settled in looking for a suitable candidate to follow and pace myself against. Unfortunately for me they all took one look at me and increased their pace as soon as we turned off from the canal and headed for the hills.

Before I knew it I was at the bottom of Bolton Brow and it was scary! Very steep and covered in gravel, it was not an easy hill to climb especially if you had never been near it before. I got talking to a lass of a similar age to myself and we walked up it together discussing running. The thing I really like about running and runners is they’re always happy to talk to you about running and relieve past glories.

At the top of Bolton Brow the lass left me for dead but I had never run 10k before so remembering what my fellow club runners had told me went at my own pace. This proved to be a good strategy because once I started to head back down I was keeping the lass in my sights and not letting her get away.

This proved to be going well until I had to stop and pull my shorts up. I’ve lost a lot of weight recently and I’ve dropped several sizes in shorts and jeans. However this was quite embarrassing as my shorts were falling down and my boxers were on display for everyone to see. After managing to give some people an eyeful I was back on the trail safe in the knowledge that my shorts weren’t halfway round my bum.

But now I had some catching up to do on unfamiliar trails. The lass had gotten quite far in front, but there was a young lad not too far up ahead so I targeted him and used him as bait to drag me round. And it worked. I had a couple of runners in front of me due to my shorts adjustments, but I soon passed them and set about catching the young lad. And then the lass appeared in the distance too and I decided to do my best to keep them both in sight because you never know what might happen.

Through Copley Woods we went up and down, sloshing through mud, diving down wet rocks and stone steps and generally just enjoying it all whilst trying not to fall and damage myself. I would certainly run it again as I enjoy off road running but for today I concentrated on just getting round and completing the course and avoiding injury.

And then I was through the woods and running back down Bolton Brow towards the canal. For some strange reason my downhill running has got slower recently and I am going faster uphill and on the flat than I am downhill. I’ve no idea why or how this has happened but it had and today was no exception. I sort of lumbered down Bolton Brow and only felt like I was picking up speed when I reached the flat at the bottom.

Up until this point I had no idea where the lass and the lad where. For all I knew they may have pulled a mile on me and be out of sight. But as I turned onto the canal I saw them both up ahead and I thought ‘they’re not too far I front’; ‘I can catch them’. And with that thought in the back of my mind I set about maintaining my pace and seeing if I could catch them.

The only problem with the canal is that it is quite boring by its nature being flat and beside a still water, but encouraged by walkers and homeowners who obviously revelled in the sight of a middle aged man trying to kill himself through running I carried on until I reached the end of the canal and began the home straight back to the registration point at the school.

By this point the lad had pulled quite a distance on me so I resigned myself to not catching him, but the lass was slowing, and by quite a bit too! I had her in my sights and I could visibly see myself gaining on her until I was right behind her and then past her. I don’t think I said anything to her as I passed her as I needed every single breath I could muster at this point.

And then there was the finishing line at last. Or at least I thought it was until I realised I had to do one of those convoluted finishes that involve going in and out of fencing and rope until you see the sign that says finish.

But finish I did in a time according to my Garmin of 1:14:26. I was very happy with that. Under 1:15 for my first ever 10k and according to the runners around me if I could run this one I can run any. My official time was over 1:15 but this was due to my shorts stoppage so I’m going by my Garmin time which is a more accurate reflection of my performance on the day.

And I got a very nice metal medal too for all my efforts. At the end of the day I left Bolton Brow a very happy and satisfied man knowing I had accomplished something I never thought possible which is run 10k.

Now my next challenge is looming up quickly, the Pudsey 10k. I am prepared for this mentally although I haven’t been round the course, but I know I can run 10k on any day and I know I will give it my best. I would like to go under an hour but I am aiming to get as close to this as possible. All I can say is that I will give it my all and do my very best.


Because the sun shines high in a clear blue sky

 

Because leaves rustle in the cooling breeze

Awaken sleepy birds from their daydream

 

Because dew raising through the morning mist

Moistens my dry lips and I can breathe again

 

Because the cat meows making the dog bark

And the mouse runs under the skirting board

 

Because the children play in parks and fields

Unaware that I am even there or even exist…

 

Because the gravestones stand to attention in formation

All proudly displaying names, dates and family history

 

Because the artist does not care as he paints with madness

The blue sky black and the stream running into the sky

 

Because cars stop and start, go left, go right

Backwards and forwards in a multicolour ribbon of metal

 

Because they are there, everywhere I go, every single day

Every single night, wherever I go they are there…

 

Because girls stand on street corners smoking and drinking

Whilst boys ride motorbikes down back alleys

 

Because four walls encase me leaving me lifeless,

Soulless, motionless, breathing in stale air drenched with sweat

Through walls thick with yesterday’s newspaper headlines

 

Because every hour of every day it is there and I am here

Listening intently as it calls me constantly, wantonly, never ending

Like a wolf howling in the night for me to come and kiss it

And feel its breath enter my body and touch my very soul…


Last week was quite an eventful week for my running and a steep learning curve too. On Tuesday I decided to test myself and see fi I could run for three days continuous. Tuesday I decided to do a repeat of the Thursday night club run and see if I could do it on my own. It was a nice, sunny day after the previous day which had rained most of the day and I love running trails when it’s like this. The route was on familiar roads so I didn’t have a problem remembering it. I also lengthened it too so I could do more distance and hill work.

Later on in the week this would prove to be a bad mistake but at the time it seemed like a good idea. To finish off I went up the now familiar Station Road climb again walking up most of it. One day I will run up it! However it was not to be this day and I got home tired but satisfied with my run.

Wednesday my legs felt tired but I decided to go out anyway. I went down some country lanes around me. It’s really good running country as it’s very quiet and car free. This means you can concentrate on your running rather than worrying about traffic and other obstacles that seem to appear in today’s world.

I didn’t have a route planned out in my mind although I have a very good knowledge of the area. I just went out to run and see where my legs took me! I had a little hill in mind to finish off with but getting there I could go anywhere. As I was running along thinking of a route I remembered a hill called Howes Lane and decided to give it a go. This turned out to be a good idea as while I didn’t run up the whole of the hill I did manage half way and then walked up the rest at pace.

The best thing was I felt good and I had plenty left at the top to carry on running to the little hill and attempt that. But here I may have made an error of judgement as I went for a longer route when a shorter one would have made more sense. This became apparent when I got to the little hill which is steep and bends round to the right at the top continuing to rise until flattening out at the top towards the main road.

Unfortunately I had nothing left at this point and had to walk up the hill which was disappointing. But I managed a steady 6.2 miles and felt good when I got home. And then it was Thursday and the club run. We set off from our new home at the local golf club and went down familiar lanes but in a different direction to how I normally run them.

And today was when I felt it. I felt the tiredness in my legs and although I should have been able to run the route no problem I suffered for my earlier runs and I felt very tired and not up to running. This taught me that I should listen to my body and not do too much too soon. Although I did it my pace suffered and my legs did too on the club run. Lesson learned for the future. Don’t do too much and listen to your body or you will suffer!


Recently I was asked to write and perform some poetry for an event in my home village to remember the closure of Queensbury Railway Station 60 years ago. These are the poems I wrote. I wanted to capture the life of the railway rather than go into historical details. I hope I did this.

A hill stands in the way

Tons of earth lain here for years

Nothing has moved it

Not wind, rain or snow

Until now

Until now with the overwhelming desire of men

To get through to the other side

Underneath the village of Queensbury

To the town of Halifax

And navvies come from all around

To move earth and dig the tunnel

And with pickaxes and spades

They move lumps of mud and clay

And slowly a tunnel begins to form

Deeper underneath Queensbury they go

Determined to reach Halifax

And lay the tracks of the railway

A rumble deep underground as the

Slaughter line comes crashing down

And a wife and child are fatherless

Penniless, homeless

The price for some was high

But the men must carry on

In order to achieve their goal

And then

A chink of blinding light

Penetrates the blackness

And there is Halifax

1 1/2 miles through earth and stone

The men have built the Queensbury tunnel

 —————————————– 

The tunnel is finished, complete

Tons of earth above will not fall in

The people of Queensbury can

Sleep peacefully

As the lines that will carry trains go down

Mile after mile of cold, hard steel

Sleeping on beams of wood

Forever trapped in the damp darkness

Waiting for the steam train

To wake them up as it takes

The workers and holiday makers

To their destinations

——————————- 

And through the train comes

Thundering through the tunnel

As the village of Queensbury

Silently shudders overhead

Residents deep in sleep

Unaware of the mechanical violence

Happening far below

 ——————————-

And the train clanks and clunks to a halt

At the Queensbury triangle

Hundreds of people get off

And rush up Station Rd

It is long and steep

But they have no choice

The train was late

But they cannot be

Wages will be docked if they are

And someone will go hungry

 ———————————–

The day has been long and hard

Stood at the end of a loom

In a room filled with smoke

Noise, blood, sweat and tears

A child lost an arm today

No-one will see him again

And now the journey home begins

Tired limbs hurry down Station Rd

The train waits for them

Covered in soot and grime

Ready to take the workers

Into the darkness of the tunnel

One last time

 ————————-

And so it goes on

Day after week after month after year

Passengers go to and fro

Carrying cargo and coal

From work to home

For business and pleasure

Every hour of every day

The trains never stop

Not even for snow

———————–

But then stop it does

Passengers in 55

Cargo in 56

The lines go in 63

The air is quiet and still

Without the noise of the

Trains to disturb it

Nature reclaims the tunnel

For its own

 ——————

Now 60 years has past

Since the last passenger

Train ran on the Queensbury line

But plans are afoot to

Reopen the tunnel

And once again

Allow people to

Travel underneath Queensbury

This time by

By foot and by bike

For business and pleasure

As their ancestors

Did all those years ago


Yesterday, Sunday 31st May I went for my first long training run, the first of many. To be honest I don’t know many places where I can go on a long run off-road despite living in a semi-rural part of the country. This is as much to do with my knack of just getting out there and running or walking but not taking any notice of where I’m going as anything else!

However I do know Haworth, the world famous home of the Bronte’s and the moors are said to have provided the inspiration for Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights. I have walked these moors many times myself and so they are an ideal place for me to start my off-road training as I know the paths and trails and can vary my route every time.

So off to Penistone Hill Country Park in my car I went and soon I was sat there in the car park looking towards Top Withens on a wet and windy Sunday morning. The scene could have come straight from Wuthering Heights and I would not have been surprised to have seen Cathy or Heathcliff come walking by, hand in hand, two lovers forever trapped on the moors…

This is the view that greeted me as I parked up

Haworth Moor 310515 Wet and Windy

But I didn’t have time to sit there daydreaming; I had a training run to do! So off I set on a familiar path to the Bronte waterfalls, Top Withens, then the Trig point on top of the moors and finally Alcomden Stones. This is around 3 ½ miles but always seems a lot further. The route starts off on trail before turning to rock and mud and then finally open moorland above Top Withens and on the way to the Trig point and Alcomden Stones.

Today though extra care was needed as the route was slippy and muddy because of the rain but I still made good progress up to the Stones getting there in around 45 minutes. Alcomden Stones are an outcrop of ancient stones allegedly where prehistoric men worshipped. I think it is a spectacular place simply because it is one of the few places where you can go and experience freedom from all the stresses of modern day life. There is nothing around for miles and you can feel free here.

But when you get here you also have a problem. You can go back to Top Withens on the trail that is easy to navigate or you can try and get down to Ponden Kirk. The problem here is that the trail runs out and you are left on open marshland and bog with no clear path. I of course took this option and followed the stream as closely as I could. If you follow a stream you will eventually come out at a point where you will be able to make a more informed choice of route.

I knew though where this stream came out but this did not make the run any easier. My feet got soaking wet standing in water and covered in thick mud as I made my way as quickly as possible across the marshland. But I enjoyed this, far more than I enjoy running on roads. This for me is true, pure running, in the wilds with the elements against you and you need all your wits about you to avoid coming a cropper and taking a wet and muddy fall!

But I managed to avoid falling and after a lot of jumping around over embankments and avoiding muddy bog I made it to the end of the route and Ponden Kirk. Most normal people at this point take the path over the top of the Kirk down towards the reservoir. Me however being a bit mad go down the side of the Kirk, a steep and narrow path just so I can go back up it. Yesterday it was very slippy so I had to be careful or I might fall and if you fall here that could be it…

Back up to the top path and having avoided falling I ploughed on down towards Ponden Reservoir and on to the path that would take me back up to the waterfalls and the path back towards my car. Apart from getting a bit lost the rest of the run was uneventful but satisfying as I was building up my distance training now.

That was apart from on the path from the waterfalls back to Penistone Hill. The path is narrow in parts and strewn with rocks, but I had a group of older hikers in front of me that were slowing my pace. To get round them I took some risks and jumped over and off rocks with a pace and agility that surprised me! The best moment came when one of them said ‘there’s a fell runner, bloody idiot!’ I took this as a compliment! Nobody had ever called me a fell runner before!

And 9.3 miles later I was back at my car. Feet soaking, dripping wet, muscles already aching, tired but having an immense feeling of satisfaction and achievement deep inside me from having achieved so much more in my first proper training session than I thought I could. I already have a route in mind for next week. But that’s another story.