Posts Tagged ‘pace’


This Sunday, 12th June saw the first running of the Northowram Burner hosted by the Northowram Pumas. Previously the race was known as the Bolton Brow Burner and had been my very first 10k race in 2015.

For 2016 it was a change and of venue and running club for the Burner and I was a little apprehensive about this. Nothing to do with the Pumas who I knew would organise and hold a great 10k, but more to do with how many people would turn up? As well as the 10k there was a 2.5k a fun run and a fair so plenty of people needed to attend to make sure the day was a success. Another reason for my apprehension was that the Pumas are a relatively new club so would runners turn up or go to the more established races of which there are many to choose from?

My fears were allayed as soon as I entered Northowram looking for a place to park and avoiding the kids and parents who were enjoying the 2.5k run. There was plenty of people around and this gave me a warm, happy feeling inside knowing that all the hard work that the Pumas had put into the event had paid off. I know some of the Pumas personally and they are a great club, always friendly and smiling and they have some very good runners too so don’t underestimate them because they are new.

Having managed to avoid knocking anyone over and being called ‘The Kiddy Killer of Queensbury’ by the local press I made my way to Northowram Primary School to register for the race and meet up with my runners from my club Queensbury RC. As I approached the school it became apparent that plenty of people of all ages and abilities had turned out for the day and Northowram was rocking and running to a party atmosphere.

The day itself was quite warm and humid, not always the best conditions to run in but you can only run in what the weather is on the day and cope the best you can. I wasn’t feeling 100% either. I’ve done more running this year than any other and if I’m being honest I shouldn’t have really run the Burner. My right calve was very tight and my left hip was aching and I felt physically drained from a tough off road run the day before, but I wanted to run the Burner and show my support for the Pumas and my friends there. I had decided to use the race as a recovery run and not race anyone or go for glory. Just take it nice and steady and enjoy running. 

At the start I thought someone had turned their TV on too loudly as for a split second I could hear the Zumba woman from the Specsavers advert screaming at me to move. I then realised that someone had actually got her in to warm us all up for the race! I manged to shuffle my feet as I wanted to save what little energy I had for the race and left it to the more energetic runners to pretend to dance like John Travolta and shake parts of their bodies that clearly had not been shaken in a while!

And we were off! For some reason I started at the front but within 30 seconds I had been swamped by a pride of Stainland Lions and was at my customary place near the back of the pack. Today I was happy with this as I have previously said I was nowhere near full fitness so I slowly began my race and settled into a pace I was comfortable with.

The route and area are both familiar to me having run and walked around here for many years and been on a recce of the route, so while it held no surprises I also knew I would be in for a tough run because of the hilly terrain and muddy conditions I would encounter later on. Personally I thought the route was very good and well thought out, with plenty of different and challenging terrain for everyone to enjoy and only Long Lane where you were able to relax and gather your breath before you descended into the muddy woods.

At the first trial I started to come alive and enjoy running. Although I do a lot of road and track running I prefer off road to anything else. The feeling of being at one with nature as you fly over grass and rocks is one of the best in the world and never gets boring. For the Burner although around a third of the route was off road and muddy I had decided to wear my fast road shoes as I felt I would be able to make up any time I lost off road on the road and I was confident in my ability to run in them in the conditions.

I knew I had made the right choice on the first bit of trial as I upped my pace and started to pass people who were struggling to get grip. I was enjoying slipping and sliding and looking for the best path through the mud and water avoiding making a fool of myself by falling over in a dramatic heap!

Back onto the road and apart from one small bit of downhill it was steady climbing all the way up to Queensbury. This part of the route which leads onto Green Lane and Deanstones Lane, is more challenging than people might realise as you are climbing for a good mile or more and maintaining a good pace is important to get up to Queensbury and have plenty of energy left. For once I was running at a decent pace to do this rather than going off like a man possessed and dying ungracefully in the middle of the road after half a mile.

So I arrived on Long Lane feeling better than I expected I would. My pace began to pick up a bit and I was enjoying running. Around the bottom of Long Lane and then the descent into the woods. This was the part of the race where I had to be mentally alert as the trail was muddy and strewn with tree roots and rocks. One wrong step and my race could well have been over. I used all my off road experience to get to the bottom, sliding where I could, holding onto trees and being careful where I put my next step.

At the bottom, over the stream and up the muddy embankment. Only a short climb but difficult in my road shoes. Pulling myself up with the help of some tree roots I made it to the top and was off again to the next short descent. This again was thick with mud so rather than risk falling over I slide down on my hands and feet and was soon over the other side climbing up yet another muddy trail! 

I was in my element here running through the mud and water keeping my balance and looking for the best possible path. At the top of the climb you turn left and descend gently on hard trail to the next road section. On the road I picked up my pace a bit more although once again I underestimated the length of this road and thought it was shorter than it was!

At the bottom you turn sharp left for the last major climb, Whiskers Lane. This climb is a tough one raising steeply up a valley before turning left and continuing to raise across the valley before a steep, short road section brings you out at the top. What increases the difficulty is the loose stones that form the path of Whiskers Lane making it difficult to get and maintain grip. Today though I felt good on here, strong, powerful and moving with decent speed, I enjoyed the run up Whiskers Lane and was soon at the top being applauded for my efforts by some children.

And then the last mile or so and the last bit of climbing to Northowram. My pace had dropped now and I was happy to plod along knowing I had done my best on the day. I was caught by a Puma and although I tried to race her it was in vain as I didn’t have enough left to race anyone or anything, so off she went and carried on at my own pace.

At the finish my team mates from Queensbury were waiting for me and cheered me over the line. I did my now customary sprint finish for them and it was over. My first Northowram Burner had finished and I had a time of 1:12:45 which is my second worse time for a 10k but as much as I could do on the day.

The fun carried on though as the fair was now in full swing with adults emptying their pockets so the kids could have fun. Every runner got a goodie bag with socks, water and fruit in, a lot better than some other clubs have done and afterwards there was pasties on sale, a raffle and a prize giving for the runners who won their category with very good prizes including £50 for the winner.

All in all, the Northowram Burner was a great success. Well organised and marshalled, a tough, varied and challenging route followed by a fair. There was plenty for everyone to do and around 152 runners took part in the 10k which is a very good turnout and made for a competitive but friendly race.

The Northowram Pumas can be very proud of themselves for organising the event and making it the success it was. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event and will use the route as part of my training too from now on.

 


Last night, Tuesday 24th May saw the second round of the Yorkshire Veterans Athletics Association Grand Prix competition at West Park, Leeds. This is my first time competing in the Grand Prix and all of the courses are new and unfamiliar to me so this is not only a test of my running ability but also my ability to run fast on unfamiliar territory.

We arrived in plenty of time and met up with some of the other runners from Queensbury Running Club. After a brief chat we made our way up to the course, around half a mile from the pub that was the race base for the night. Once at the course we went for a warmup and to familiarise ourselves with the course which is held in a public park.

Time soon went and on a cool, spring evening in Leeds it was time to get the race under way. The race director spent what seemed forever explaining the route and emphasising how our trail and road running shoes would do considerably more damage to the football pitches than twenty four pairs of football boots with longer studs! This amused many of us as we tried to work out how we could cause more damage but the threat of immediate disqualification meant we took it seriously and were more concerned with stepping on the football pitches than the race itself!

The starter set us off and set off at a reasonable pace. I have learnt that pacing yourself and running your race is essential. Getting caught up in a race with others especially at the start can cause you problems especially later on in the race when you need strength for a good finish.

The course meandered round a field in order to split the runners up and I get into a comfortable rhythm, concentrating on pacing myself and not worrying about some other runners I recognised getting away from me. It was far too early in the race to chase people down. That was for later if we were near each other.

After the field we entered the woods and one of my favourite surfaces trail. With trail you still have to concentrate on where you are going but you can also get plenty of speed on as well which isn’t always possible on the moors and fells. The trail snaked its way through the woods and began a gentle uphill climb round the other side of the park.

By now I established my position in the race and was beginning to keep up a good pace and pass people. Running over the moors and fells teaches you to look for spots where you can put your feet down safely, but keep moving swiftly. This experience becomes invaluable when racing on trials where the passing places can be small and you have to be quick.

Rounding the far side of the park I saw the familiar shape of one of competitors. She is very good and a tough, determined runner who never gives up. I knew I would have to be at my best and more to catch her never mind pass her!

I kept plugging away but the gap between us seemed to widen if anything. I felt a bit disheartened but kept going. I was maintaining a good pace and enjoying myself. So what if I didn’t pass her? It was not the end of the world.

We went through the final bit of woodland and then through the other side I was right behind her to my surprise! I wasn’t sure if she had made a mistake or had simply started to run out of steam but she heard me coming up behind and graciously told me to go past her and go for it!

By now I had found some serious pace. I’ve no idea where it came from but my stats on Strava confirmed it too. My final mile was my fastest by a long way but it very nearly wasn’t. At the start I had been warned about the finish being deceiving. You come out of the woods up the field and you think you’re on the finish straight but you’re not.

As I came fast up the field expecting to sprint to the finish I suddenly realised I had to make a right turn and go back down and around the field! I had passed a younger competitor on the corner and now I was fearing that he would be right behind me and go pass me at any time now.

But my fears were unfounded. I was flying now and not only did I make the pass stick but I also passed another runner on the finish straight and nearly caught another on the line!

All in all I am very happy with my performance. A time of 44:37 for five miles of trial was a lot better than I was hoping for at the start of the race and is well below my 10k PB pace. I was pleased with myself as I kept pushing all the way and even when I felt I couldn’t catch my fellow runner I still kept going and never gave up.

I’m really looking forward to the next race at Kirkstall next Tuesday and hoping that my legs are still feeling good as I need to do a long run in preparation for the Huddersfield half marathon on Sunday 6th June.

 


This Wednesday 18th May saw the final race of the 2016 John Carr series for this year. This is the second time I have taken part and it is a series of 5k races that I look forward to more than enjoy taking part in!

The first race was more of a recce than a full blown, all out run. I was coming off some very good runs where I had been showing good pace on the flat and my climbing was improving to the point where I was passing people on the hills! This filled me with confidence and I decided to set a target of going under 25 minutes for the 5k at one of the races.

This may sound overly ambitious but the John Carr races have gained a reputation as races where you can set personal bests due to the course being set at Esholt Water Works and it is relatively flat which means fast times.

At the first race I was feeling good. My legs were a bit tired but nothing I wasn’t used to. I had a good warmup for the race although this was due to the fact that we parked about 2 miles away from the start which meant I had no choice but to run to the start and warmup.

The race went well. I felt good throughout the race and felt strong at the finish able to put in a sprint and beat some other runners to the line. My official time was 26:11, a new personal best, and I was happy with this. I felt it was a good indicator of my form and that a sub 25 was on.

The second race was a very different affair and brought me crashing back down to earth. I had, had a very stressful day at university finishing my final essay and then got back to my car to find my back window had dropped which meant a trip to the garage and no rest. This all added to the stress.

At the race I didn’t warmup as I should have done and set off far too fast passing one of my rivals within ½ k and continuing to pile on the speed. And then people started passing me and I had nothing left to respond with. My legs were moving but I felt I had no power or strength in them and I was going backwards. I looked at my watch and my pace had dropped to training pace and still I couldn’t go any faster. I wanted to stop there and then but pride and determination kept me going. The end couldn’t come quick enough and I managed to pick up speed and hold off some other runners but for me it had been a disaster. I still finished in a respectable 27:05 but everything that could go wrong had gone wrong and much of it was down to myself and how I approached the race.

For the final race I took a different approach. No stressing, it was only a race after all and do a warmup. I find a 5k difficult and you have to be on race pace from the off and for a well-built man like me it takes a while to warmup and get up to race pace. For distances such as 10k and ½ marathon this isn’t a problem, but for a 5k it is as you can soon find yourself being left behind and have nothing left to respond with as I did in race 2. You have to be on the pace from the off in a 5k and this is where the hard work comes in.

I set off at a comfortable pace, reminding myself to run my race and not someone else’s. I saw one of my rivals up ahead and decided to keep him in my sights rather than go after him and pass him early. I let myself get into the race and find my pace and soon I was steadily catching up to him and passed him around the 1mile mark.

I felt good, not my best by a long way but good enough to keep up the pace I was going and add a bit more if I needed to. My next rival was now up ahead and I was coming up on him fast. I passed him just after the ½ way mark and injected a bit more pace into my run as I wanted to make sure my move stuck and I didn’t have to race him again.

Then I began to struggle. My legs were on fire and my breathing was heavy and once again the thought of stopping briefly crossed my mind. But I dug deep and kept going. Although the course is described as flat the small hills that were on the course felt like mountains at this point as I tried to go faster and leave the runner who had decided to keep me company behind!

I crested the final small hill and saw the bright yellow finish which seemed a lot further away than in the other races. I was running at my maximum and I had nothing left to put in a sprint. All I could do was to keep my pace up and not give in.

I crossed the line a second in front of the runner who had tried to beat me. Another couple of feet and she would have done. The time was 25:43 a new personal best if not the sub 25 I was aiming for. I felt good. I had nothing left in me to run anymore so I was happy in the knowledge that I had done my best and giving everything I had on the night.

Overall I enjoyed my second John Carr series and I learnt a lot from it too. Preparation is key to these races and a good warmup is essential. Pacing yourself is all important too so you can finish strongly and I know that I can go sub 25 one day. But the most important thing is to enjoy your running and make the most of it while you can.

 


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.