Posts Tagged ‘best’


when i am inside

you are my comfort

my warmth, my softness

changing shape as i move

moulding yourself to my every mood

 

but when i go outside

you come with me in my mind

the thought of you keeps me safe

how you turn cold into warmth

hardness into soft, sad to happy

 

you encompass all my joy

you soak up all my emotions

you bring my dreams to life

you are my best friend

you are my mobile pillow

 


I’m starting to write this piece about my experience at the John Carr 5k, the day after the final race, but won’t finish it till later, but it has been such a great experience for me as an introduction to road racing and running competitively that I felt compelled to write about my experience as a first time racer at the age of 47.

I decided to enter the series because my times at the parkruns had started to come down quite dramatically from 45+ minutes to 33 minutes 15 seconds. Spurred on by this improvement I began to think about entering a race and was told about the John Carr 5k series which is held every May on the first three Wednesdays in the month in honour of a runner who died at the age of 30.

The races are held on land owned by Yorkshire Water and the course is fairly flat and fast which makes it appeal to runners of all abilities as the potential is there to set a Personal Best for the 5k and you have three attempts at it too. Add in the reward of a free beer at the end if you enter all three races and you can see the appeal of the series!

Once I had entered the series I decided that I wanted to break the 30 minute barrier at the final race. Whilst for many people 30 minutes is very achievable, for me it was a challenge. In addition to my improvement in running was a massive weight loss going from 18st 3lbs to 15st 10lbs. Whilst this was still quite heavy I was interested to see if my weight loss would also contribute to a new PB and hopefully one under 30 minutes.

The day of the first race came and I was in a mess to be honest. It was held on the first Monday after the bank holiday and stupidly I had decided to do a 7 mile run on the Sunday to collect my car from a golf club and a 7 mile walk around the hills near me on the Monday. This turned out to be a very bad idea. On the Tuesday my hamstrings were reminding me they were there by aching. This made me worried that my performance would be compromised and I would not be able to run at my best. In addition my left Achilles was aching once again, an old injury from many years back, so I approached the first race poorly prepared and with my legs aching.

As it turned out my fears were unfounded and I plodded round the course with the only memory being when I was told to turn right at the end of a short straight and saw the other runners all going at speed down the other side. I assumed it was a short straight only to turn round the corner and be confronted by a long, long straight! All the other runners where going a lot faster than I realised and I was a lot slower than I thought I was!

Near the end of the race is a 4k marker and a drop back down into Esholt. I decided to put a sprint on and managed it for a short while but then gave up, just stopped going at pace and as a consequence I was passed by at least two other runners from memory if not more. I made a vow there and then never to give up near the end of a race and to give it my all. No more giving up near the end, go for it and give it my absolute best. I finished in a time of 31:37, a new PB for me but it didn’t seem worth celebrating, didn’t feel like an achievement for some reason.

The next day my left Achilles was in pain, a lot of pain and I was having difficulty walking so I decided to give my Thursday night club meeting a miss and see how I was on Saturday for the parkrun. Saturday came and my Achilles was still in agony but I decided to do the parkrun anyway. At the parkrun I tried to warm up but I was in a lot of pain and decided not to risk running 5k that day.

At the parkrun however was a guy called Peter May who I had heard about as he is one of the more elite runners at my club Queensbury Running Club and a sports massager too. I had a word with Peter about my injury and booked an appointment to see him the following week. During this week I did no running or walking and it was a very, very difficult week because of this. I never realised before how much I would miss running and not being able to get out in the fresh air and feel free.

So the following week I went to see Peter and this is very relevant to the rest of my story. Peter asked me what was wrong and I told him, left Achilles, what shoes do you wear, support shoes. Wrong shoes, wrong problem. It turns out my problem was really bad tightness in my right calve and I needed neutral, cushioned shoes. For 20+ years I had believed I had the wrong injury and I was wearing the wrong shoes.

Peter sorted me out and gave me very good advice on how to prevent my injury getting any worse. I immediately went down to town and bought a cheap pair of neutral cushioned shoes for the next race. Wearing them was a revelation. My feet felt lighter and had more movement, I felt like I could run.

On the day of the second race I was looking forward to it excitedly. I decided to wear my old support shoes for the race simply because I had not run yet in my new ones. This time I got there early and proceeded to warm up doing around 1.5 miles. My legs felt good, still aching but a lot more movement and flexibility in them. Off I went at the start and my legs felt like lead. I went 100 yards and wanted to stop. My Achilles was killing me. My legs felt like lead, I didn’t feel like running at all.

But then something in mind clicked and I decided to see how I felt after a mile. The first mile went by and I was running at a good pace so decided to do another mile. After the second mile I was still going at a good pace so decided to keep going. My pace slowed over the last mile but I had enough left to kick for the finishing line and this time I did not give up. I went for it, giving it my all and crossed the line in a breathless and slightly dizzy 31:06. Another PB but still way off my target of sub 30 minutes.

I was in pain though. My neck was aching, I had a headache and I was struggling to catch my breath too. This was all too apparent to a good friend of mine who tried to talk to me but only got a load of incoherent nonsense and after quickly making their excuses I was left to try and work out where I was and how to get home!

But this week was different to the week before. This week I went to my Thursday night running club and I went out on my own. Running felt different, it felt fluid and natural, it felt right. I was doing non-stop runs and most importantly for me running up hills, something I had not done before. Mentally and physically I had changed for the better and my running was proof of this.

On the day of the third and final race I had another session with Peter and my legs felt better than ever. I had been running in the cheap shoes but felt far more comfortable in these than in the expensive support ones which felt like a pair of hiking boots in comparison. I was starting to believe I could go under the magic 30 minute barrier.

I got to the race in plenty of time and proceeded to warm up. My legs felt good but I was also aware of not overdoing things and leaving something in the tank for the race. And then there I was once again at the start line, ready to go for the third and final time this year. I set off and once again 100 yards in my legs felt like lead and I felt like stopping. I remember wondering to myself whether I should just stop there and then and go home.

But I didn’t. I carried on and my running freed up, I was moving smoothly, I felt good. The first mile went past in under 9 minutes, very fast for me, but I was enjoying myself. I saw people in front of me and I moved out and passed them and they didn’t come back at me. This was a new feeling, I was passing people and moving away from them. This felt good.

And this continued into the second mile too. This feeling of running and not just going through the motions was still here and I was enjoying it. after two miles my watch said just over 18 minutes. It was now I realised that my dream of a sub 30 minute 5k was on. All I had to do was keep going and believe.

Inevitably I slowed up, my watch showing my pace at 10:30 minutes a mile. But I knew I could still do it so I dug deep and kept going. I remember thinking if I didn’t do it today I would have to wait a year and that was something I was not prepared to do.

Back up over the start  line and I could see the village of Esholt coming into view. I knew the finish line wasn’t far away and put a bit more pace into my run. Downhill into the village and seemingly the roads were lined with people cheering for me, ‘keep going’, ‘you’re doing great’, ‘you can do it’, everything just a blur.

And my mind was blank, nothing there at all, no thoughts just a deep intense concentration, focusing on not just finishing but on breaking the 30 minute barrier. And then it was over. I had finished. I ran for the nearest wall in order to try and get some air into my lungs. I was gasping for air but had to queue with everybody else in order to register my time. And I looked at my watch and it said 29:26. According to my watch I had done it, I had broken the 30 minute barrier and achieved my dream. But would the organisers find 30 seconds from somewhere and take everything away from me? I didn’t dare celebrate just yet, although I told friends what my time was. I was sure something would go wrong somewhere and my dream would remain just that.

In the bar I stood with my friends waiting for the official results to come out, still thinking I was dreaming, still trying to get my breath back and return to reality. And then the results were out and I looked for my name and there it was officially in black and white, Andrew Smith 29:26. I had done it, I had done what I set out to achieve and I had proved to myself that I can achieve so much more when I want to.

But I didn’t feel like celebrating. I was so tired, in a sporting sense this was the hardest I had ever worked physically and mentally to achieve a goal, a dream. But I did it and went home to a nice glass of red wine to relax and unwind with feeling satisfied and feeling like a runner for the first time ever in my life.


Live for the here, live for the now, live in the present, the past is gone and cannot be undone, only learned from, the future is unknown and we can only dream about what it holds, today may be your last or it may be the day life changes forever, nobody knows, but unless you live in the present, do your best, push yourself higher and further, be the best you can, then your future may be may be bleak, do your best and see what opportunities open up for you…AS 2015


It’s only recently that the running bug has hot me and I mean really hit me. I joined my local running club last year, July 2014, aged 46, when an old friend of mine who I used to work with set up a beginners group there to generate membership for the club. I went along and for a while I was the only male there which had the added bonus of me being the fastest male in the group every week despite being so much slower than the lasses!

I carried on going and I began to look forward to it and even started to find old friends and make new ones so there was the beginnings of a social side too. I was never the fastest and I was never going to be. As the title says I’m a fat lad from Yorkshire, at this point I weighed around 18 ½ stone I think so I would just plod on in the slowest group but still enjoying myself.

Time moves on and four of us who had got friendly with each other decided to enter our local park run at Bradford. Now 5k isn’t far when all things are considered but it was far enough for me! I plodded round in around 45 minutes on my first park run but I did it and that was the main thing. After two more park runs my time had improved to just over 40 minutes and breaking the 40 minute barrier seemed to be a dream that would never happen.

And then autumn came and I stopped running. My final year at university had begun, the nights were drawing in and the wind and rain came back. Going outside and running didn’t seem so appealing and combined with the fact that my friends from the club had stopped going too there seemed no reason to go out, get soaking wet and run.

Autumn turned into winter and with the snow and ice the group runs were cancelled because of the risks involved with inexperienced runners in poor conditions. I still tried to get out but only for some walks locally nothing too strenuous!

And then this year 2015 something happened, my mind-set changed, a switch was flicked in my mind and a light came on. I can’t say for sure what it was, maybe the realisation that I was finally leaving the protecting cocoon of university and I would be released back into the wild combined with the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do either made me wake up from the slumber I was in and realise I had to do something.

And one thing I realised I had to do was to get fit. My weight had dropped to 18st and I could walk slowly round the village where I live but I struggled and would soon feel out of breath, stopping for a rest and sometimes wishing I hadn’t come out.

But the friends I had made from the running club kept in contact and we began to talk of a return to the club. All of us had put weight on and needed to shift some fat and with spring fast approaching it meant it would be light at night again when we had all got home and so we could go out and see where we were running!

And so we went back to our running club, together of course because so many new people had joined since we last went we all felt a touch nervous about going on our own. But we needn’t have worried. We were soon all talking to each other and laughing and ready for our first run.

The lad who leads the group as a whole also leads the beginners group. I say beginners because this is the group into which new runners to the club can go if they want to, just to ease themselves into running and see how they do.

Where I live is on top of a hill in West Yorkshire but it is possible to run round it without encountering too many hills if you know what you’re doing! We did this for a few weeks and were soon back into the swing of things. I felt comfortable in this group and did not want to move out of it, mainly I think from a fear of embarrassing myself in the next group up.

And then we heard of a new 5k park run that was being started in Halifax. Now although we are in Bradford we are literally on the outskirts of that city and Halifax is closer to us so we decided to give it a try.

The event is held at Shroggs Park in Halifax and the course is a lot more challenging than the one at Bradford being a loop with two climbs of decent length for a park. I missed the first one, but I made it for the second one and lumbered round in around 45+ minutes. This was due to me familiarising myself with the course and being quite unfit and overweight!

But around this time I also started to eat healthier and go out more on my own. Nothing too hard but just running down one of the longer roads in my village was a major achievement for me and something I was quite proud of at the time. I had to miss the next park run at Shroggs Park but turned up for the next one with a plan in mind.

After giving it some thought I had decided that the best idea for me was to run the downhill parts and walk the uphill parts. I did this and got a new PB for the 5k of 37.25! I felt good and I was happy with this result. My plan had worked and I had no aches and pains from running what I thought was an intelligent race.

But then I thought I can do better. Yes I felt good at the end but I also knew I had plenty left in the tank, I knew I hadn’t given it 100% and I knew if I could conquer the hills my time would come down dramatically. So at the running club I decided to move up a group and start to push myself.

The next group up is run by a young lass and she comes with a reputation for training you hard, but getting the most out of you. I joined her group and she told us that we were doing some hill work. Now although I felt a bit apprehensive I also knew that this was exactly what I needed to improve my times.

And the hard work did pay off. At the next park run I just went for it from the start. It was hard work and didn’t feel very fast although the app on my phone told me otherwise. As I started my last lap I know I had given it my all as my legs were beginning to feel like lead weights and I sensed I was slowing down.

Past the start/finish line for the third and last time and the uphill slope felt like a mountain. However what kept me going was not only my determination to finish but two ladies who kept overtaking me and then running in front of me instead of moving to the side. This really infuriated me because I felt they were being very disrespectful towards me.

On the last uphill section I went flying past them using up my last reserves of energy, but it was enough to pull out a gap which they could not pull back. I did worry though that they would catch me on the finishing straight as I reached the top of the hill. My legs had gone, my whole body had gone, I literally had nothing left, yet somehow I managed to haul 17st+ over the finishing line for a time of 35.50 according to my phone.

I knew I had a new PB and whilst it was in the 35 minute zone I was aiming for I was a little bit disappointed it wasn’t faster as I had put so much effort into the race and literally had nothing left to give at the end.

The results are usually released around 12.30pm – 1.00pm after the race but this time they were released late, very late. I think it was around 3.00pm when they finally dropped into my inbox and to my amazement my official time was 34.55! I could not believe this. How could my phone be nearly a minute out? I looked again and yes the time was still 34.55.

So after all that my efforts had been worth it and I was rewarded with a new PB in a time that, three months previously I would not have dreamed of. I felt so good about it I could have cried. To many people who do not understand running it will have no meaning. The winner was also from the club I run with and he won it in around 17 ½ minutes.

But to me it was more than just a time. It was a vindication of my new diet and the extra training I was putting into running that somehow I was on the right path and that I could do something on my own with help from some amazing people at the club.