First of all apologies for lack of blog posts, reason was nothing to blog about. Secondly you might be wondering why Inskip and not Brass Monkey HM? well after I blogged about how my last block of training had done, I was on my cut back week, with eyes on not one but two races. Firstly I had planned on doing the Barnsley AC winter track series 5k on my birthday (11th) but with winds gusting in the 50’s I decided it wasn’t worth busting my ass for just for the elements to dictate times. So my focus switched to Brass Monkey HM on the 15th.
As I said in my training blog, training had gone well, if not better then expected and without sounding arrogant I knew I had it in me to smash my half marathon PB which I set back in May last year. On the Thursday before the race I finally went to the doctors to get my ear syringed, it had been blocked since early December but I finally got it done. Big mistake! as next day my sinuses reacted badly to the amount of water it took to clear the ear. I didn’t feel ill but my nose and under my eyes were a right mess and I was cursing my bad luck. I managed an easy 3 miles on both Friday and Saturday, however I knew if I pushed it on Sunday, the outcome would have been either turning the sinus issue into something much worse (usually anything I get turns into a chest infection) or I would not get the time I knew I had due to not being 100%. By Saturday night and with no signs of the sinus issue clearing I made decision to pull out of the Brass Monkey HM. I was gutted but having learnt the hard way you have to live to fight another day.
I ended up that day doing an easy long run with the Brooms and myself and John did 4 x 2 miles at his marathon pace. So I did get a quality session out of it. I managed to get in touch with Alan Taylor who was organiser of Inskip and in return for wife and daughter helping out he allowed me a race entry. This meant I used my cut back week as a taper week and kept mileage low for another week. So going into this past Sunday I felt fresh and in hindsight I probably benefited more with the extra week of lower mileage.
So to the race. We arrived early doors and it was sub zero conditions in Preston and the race venue was very open to the elements, however besides the usually crap sleep before a big race. I felt good, although I still suffer from pre-race nerves and self doubt. This does my wife’s head in, so way up I got my head down and had some extra sleep. Once I picked up my number I bumped into the twins I knew via Twitter one was 50/50 about racing due to an injury but wished them both good luck. I then did my usual mile warm up along the finish straight and I saw fellow local lad Gareth Cooke warming up. Great I thought to myself, someone I know and can kinda target.
The race was also my first since I secured a minor kit deal with adidas, you keep asking and sometimes it works, any how the main thing is providing my racing flats, as they are going to be a custom colour they’ve still to arrive, they did send me a racing kit but the vest while fab was a little too big and missing the club trim of red/black, however that should be fixed soon and I still raced in it, as a lot lighter then the zeon vest I’ve got.
I lined up on the start line and chatted to Gareth, he was over 150 miles for week (the lads a machine) he said he was hoping for around 80 but I suspected he was going to go a lot faster, I explained was aiming for a new PB. I already had 3 target paces in mind 5:59, 5:55 and 5:50. These would give me 1:18:23, 1:17:31 and 1:16:25 respectively. My plan was simple run as many mile splits under 5:50 as possible and see how things played out. Now some might say it’s a kamikaze racing style, other say it takes guts to go out so hard. For me it’s how I like to race. What I don’t want is to get to say 10 miles and then think Shit now I’ve got to find next gear when I’m knackered.
With my plan in my head, it was go time. No chip so it was a busy start, Gareth set off like shit of a shovel down the outside and I decided to follow suit, within half a mile the field thinned out and I could see a few familiar faces in front, including a couple of lads from Highfield Harriers and another one from Spen. I felt good setting off and it actually felt easy, I was simply running on other peoples shoulders, letting them set the pace and then pushing on to the next one.
The course was very familiar as it’s close to the Catforth Canter 5k and also the early miles are also part of the Guys 10 race. I had done my homework and knew the back end of the race was undulating at best, so I wanted to get mile 7 with time in the bag. The first few miles flew by, first mile buzzed in 5:40 (oops a bit too fast) and I expected to settle into a more controlled 5:50 pace in second mile but instead I soon ended up shoulder to shoulder with Chris Adams from North Derbyshire and I stayed glued to him till mile 7. I became like a dog with a bone and would not let go, he became my unofficial pacer. This meant the splits for first 6 miles was something I’d could only dream off a few years ago; 5:46, 5:39, 5:41, 5:42, 5:47. I went through 5k in 17:40, 5 miles in 28:28 and 10k in 35:33. The miles flew by and I felt strong and a massive confidence boost to run either PB pace or there abouts on my shorter distances. I know on the right day a sub 35 minute 10k is in my reach now.
As the route start to undulate more, I started to fade a little but instead of trying to hold on to Chris I decided to let him carry on and dropped off as we snaked through Great Eccleston, mile 7 and 8 was still the right side of 6 miles but I was having to work very hard as I was now adrift and on my own, on top of that as we left the village we turned onto what can only be described as a farm track and I struggled in this section as it was hard to get a decent rhythm going as it was pot hole central and on tired legs, it was an accident waiting to happen. On top of that we had turned into a head wind. While not strong it was noticeable, I could still see Chris and another runner in front but mile 9 was 6:07. Annoyed at myself as I still had 4 miles of work to do but I had hit a bad patch and as we ran through Elswich I lost sight of those in front and I was basically on my own. I just kept pushing as ran past the last water station. Again I could feel the head wind and then I was caught by two Trawden runners, one ran 75 and one 76.
It’s easy to look back and think I should have stuck with them but at the time I had made mistake of let myself get into a rut and mile 11 didn’t help as it was the hilliest one and it turned out to be my worse mile in 6:13, 13s too slow and shows I’m still to get it perfect. Then the two Highfield runners caught me, Jay who I’ve raced with a few times pulled in front to give me some shelter. It was a welcome rest bite from the bitterly cold wind and kinda shuck me out of the rut but he was really strong (he finished 1s off his PB) and he pulled away but then I had Mark Hall on my shoulder and after he beat me back at the 2015 Travellers 6 I was determined no one else was going to pass me and I managed to pick up the pace for last mile and half. I hit 6:10 for mile 12 but then I finished with a fairly good 6:06 13th mile. The final stretch you could see the turn to the finish and it was a right drag but I kept Mark at bay and just could not close the gap to the lad in front (he clocked 76:59) but I gave a good final kick to the line to come home in 19th place (a bonus to get a top 20 finish) in a time of 1:17:26. A brand new personal best by nearly 2 minutes. On top of that I clocked a 58:14 10 mile time over a min quicker then my PB I set last month!
To say I was over the moon would be an understatement but I knew I had it in me, based on the training I had done. I seriously do think that a sub 75 isn’t beyond my ability maybe not yet but within next 18 months, if I continue to progress. My thinking is I just need to hold my early pace for longer, could I have run quicker and held back early on and stayed with the Higham lads? I don’t know but I don’t race like that and I raced my style and got me a time I could only dream off a few years ago. Heck this time last year, I would never have thought I’d be capable of a 77 minute half marathon.
To give you an idea of my progress, back in January 2015 I got a 1:23:17 personal best at Brass Monkey and in January 2014 I got a personal best of 1:38:33. So I’ve come a long way in a few short years. A big thanks has to go to Chris for setting the early pace, he ran a PB in 75:28 and also to Gareth who just gets better and better, he ran 74:10 and finished week with over 160 miles. The mind boggles at those stats. Just goes to show that what works for one person is different for another.
Finally a big thanks has to go to my wife Sarah, she does not like the cold and for her to not only stand in it while I raced but to then help out with the goodie bags, so I could do the race is a testament to her support for me and she is the only person who’s faith in my ability has never waived and I could not do what I do without her.
I’ve not got any major races planned now till back end of Feb and I will see how the next 4 weeks pan out, before deciding on my next goal.
- 19th in 1:17:26
Kit used in race
- Adidas response singlet
- Adidas Adizero Takumi Split Running Shorts Black
- Adidas Adizero Adios 3
- Adidas running light no-show socks
- Adidas techfit base layer
- Adidas Sweat Band
- Garmin 220