So the last race before Christmas and it was a local one. It’s that close I could have run there, although I opted not to. I had already run the route Friday with club mates to give me a fresh view of the course. Now it’s billed as a tough race and a lot of runners only do it once and never return but for some reason I like the route. Having finished 8th last year, my personal goal was to go faster and finish higher then 2015. I clocked 38:28 last year, this year my target time was to go 37:xx anything more was a bonus. I did however set my pace splits based on last years winning time with a few minor adjustments on the hills.
Having my target splits have really helped me since I introduced this method back in October. For yesterday’s race I had the following splits to target;
- 1 – 6:25
- 2 – 6:00
- 3 – 5:50
- 4 – 6:30
- 5 – 6:30
- 6 – 5:30
- Target finish time 36:45
I had the honor of having the number 1 race bib, just to add to the pressure. Plus when I race locally I always feel there is extra pressure due to knowing so many people. There was over 40 club mates doing this race but this year Wakefield had sent their big guns, with Shawn D from club pointing out their top 3 lads, so it was a decent top end of the field. After doing a warm up with club mates round the start and finish bits, we hung around in the Pie Hall till race start. After getting focused we was walked onto the road and it was go time.
We set off and just settled onto the shoulder of Shawn as we run up the road before a left turn and the start of the first major hill climb. In first mile we gained 160ft of elevation, I felt really strong going up the hill as we passed the turn to the finish the top 4 pulled away, this pack included Shawn, a Wakefield, Holmfirth and surprisingly a Yeovil runner. With a small gap back to me in 5th. I kept pulling the gap back and as we hit the first mile I was once again on the shoulder of 3 of them with just the Wakefield runner in front. I hit the first mile in 6:13, so I was up on my target time by 12s and 17s faster then last year. Racing up Royd Moor with the club has done me wonders.
We then turned left and continued our up hill climbing, again the guys pulled away from me and by time we had reached the top, a second Wakefield runner had taken 5th place. We had a run in with two horses, with one moving into the path of Shawn and two other runners, as the rider struggled to control the animal. I also had to slow down and weave round him, I certainly lost time avoiding the horse and I soon found myself on my own as we raced along the hill tops. The route snaked up and down, I hit the 2nd mile marker with a 6:01 split (or 6:00,90 according to Garmin), 1s slower then planned but will put that down to the horse, it was still 19s faster then last years 2nd mile! .
The gap had grown between me and the top 5, I could see the Wakefield runner had started to tussle with the Holmfirth runner. Mile 3 was start of the loop and I was running at this point faster then my 10k PB pace, it was just the climb up to the junction that cost me a faster split, after weaving wide on the bend to avoid the white van driver, I turned left and down hill. Mile 3 was clocked in 5:56 (although strava rounded it up to 5:57). This was 6s up on my targeted time of 5:50. So I went through halfway in 18:10, 5s up on my targeted time. I felt good and got my second wind as I carried down hill, I was running just over 5:00 pace.
I was still not gaining on those in front but I knew I had two runners not far behind me and I was going to be damned if they were going to catch me. I turned left and then the hard climb back up the hill began. It’s still a damn slog as you go up, then a short down, sharp up, then you have to turn left and then right to get back on to the hill and it’s not till just after the right turn does the route flatten out. Just as you hit junction the watch buzzed for mile 4 in a time of 6:25. The second hard hill and I had gone faster then my targeted split by 5s and a whole 20s on last year (but bear in mind last year was a strong head wind going up that hill). I got my breath back only to then be greeted once again by that damn horse. The rider was still struggling to control it, how no one got hurt be it the horse, rider or runners is beyond me. It again meant I had to almost stop to avoid an accident.
I then had my slowest mile, I struggled to get going again after the hill/horse and the final hill took it’s toll. I should have done better going down the other side as at one point I had closed the gap on the Holmfirth runner, only to lose it during this mile. Mile 5 buzzed in 6:31, 1s slower then planned, yet 18s faster then 2015. I was on for a decent time, so long as I could smash the last mile. So I really pushed as I began the decent from the top, right and then down the quiet lane, even getting under 5 minute pace at one point. Just before I turned right to round the cricket pitch, I glanced back to see a Wakefield runner & Gareth Cooke (who just runs miles and miles, he beat me at Cusworth 10k and also clocked 150+ miles for week) closing me down. I proper surged at this point and really went for it, as we hit the final sting back onto the main road I gave it everything to cross the line in 6th place.
So after a strong start I only lost one place in the entire race and my finish time was 36:50 officially. Although I clocked my watch as 36:37 for 6 miles, with last mile done in 5:31, beating my target time by 8s. Had I run this last year it would have given me 2nd place, even my official time was good enough for 2nd. However this year the field was a lot stronger and the winner set a new course record. Club mate Shawn finished 4th overall and our club also got a few vet prizes, first ladies team and Sam came 2nd female overall and set a new club record for 6 miles.
From a personal view point, I am very happy with my performance as I destroyed last years time and a huge confidence boost to know I can run 36:50 on a hard 6 mile route. The question is can I lose 90s+ at the fast Ribble Valley 10k on the 27th? For me I would be happy to run sub 36 for only the second time in my career, especially as I’m in the middle of high mileage winter training (I clocked 65 last wk and got 70 planned this wk). If I can go sub 36, it bodes well for spring when I will drop down the miles and focus again on speed.
- 6th in 36:40
Kit used in race
- Zeon racing vest
- Adidas 5 inch response shorts
- Adidas Adios 3 racing flats
- Sockmine GripLock™ Anklet
- Adidas Sweat Band
- Garmin 220