Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 review and plans for 2016

Over the last 12 months I have surpassed my goals that I set myself this time last year, and this has made 2015 a totally amazing year, one that will be tough to top. There is one thing for sure about 2016 and those who know me won't be surprised I will try my hardest to make this one even better..

At the beginning of the year I had set my sights on the half marathons I was doing and my first ever marathon as well as beating my parkrun PB, what I didn't expect is how well things would go. As 2015 started I was already a third of the way through my 100 days of running challenge. I was expecting a few injuries after running every day for 100 days but all I got from it was one sore ankle that needed a little bit of rest. That wasn't surprising as I finished off the challenge with an unofficial marathon route around Huddersfield. After resting a couple of days I was back on it getting ready for the Liverpool half where I would smash my half marathon PB with a time of 1h30m26s. It was then on to the Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Leeds half marathons which all went really well. 

I then created the June 10k challenge which 8 others and I completed  smashing PB's along the way. It was a tough but great challenge and it kept me motivated until my marathon training was due to start. We all did it for different reasons but we all finished it with a great sense of accomplishment. I think I will do it again in 2016 and see how many more people will join me this time. 

During the rest of the summer I tried to keep up with my training runs but I could have done better, the south of France is a bit of a distraction but a great one. Then there was another successful Shepley 10k and another great run for me and Jessie's debut at my event.

As Autumn hit so did the serious training and the long runs, when I could. There was a failure on my first long run when I failed to plan properly and fuel myself for the long run. This resulted in 2/3 miles of walking and my kidneys screaming for water and my body going into shock when I got home. I learnt from it and my next and final three long runs went well and I felt ready but slightly nervous for my marathon.

I was nervous for about 15 mins on the day until excitement took over, and in the end the day went amazingly. I finished my first official marathon in a time of 3h19m55s which considering I was hoping for 3h30m was awesome and got me all emotional at the finish. I finished it with a slight bit of cramp and that was it so I wondered if I could have pushed it that little bit harder. 

I finished my first full year at Stadium Runners which meant I had entered enough of the club calendar race to qualify for the championship and I finished 6th clinching it on the final race of the season at the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race at Ripley castle. Then we had a great awards night celebrating 10 years of Stadium Runners in one of the fantastic event suites at the John Smiths Stadium.

Which then leads me on to December where once again I took part in the Marcothon challenge, completing it with a run with some other Marcothon runners from Acre street runners on New Year's Eve with a 12km run. I have tried to up the training for this years Marcothon by doing buggy runs and even double runs just to see if I can push that little extra for next year. 

Last year I ran 2600km or 1615m which is nearly 1600km or 1000m more than last year, It has paid off as my PB's have dropped a lot as a result.

5k PB has gone from 20.47 to 19.04
10k PB has gone from 43.05 to 40.20
Half marathon PB 2h02m to 1h30m although there was a huge difference in the courses from very hilly to flat.

My plans for 2016 are fairly simple when put into words but to actually put them into miles on the roads etc will be a different matter. I have entered the Manchester Marathon and have plans for a couple of half marathons in the springtime but other than that I haven't set anything in stone yet. I do however want to take part in my first ultra this year and I'm probably going to target the White rose ultra as the one I take part in. 2016 also see the start of the new road and trail series I am part of and my 2 races (the Windmill 6 and Shepley 10k) will make up 2 of the 5 races in the series, it's a very exciting time. I will update you all on this as we get closer to the first race which is the Windmill 6 on March 6th.

My 2016 has already got off to a great start with Steve and I doing the New Year's Day parkrun double and running in between them as well. We started with Dewsbury parkrun with lots of our friends from Hudds parkrun. 

We started steady finishing it in 21 mins which then left us 1hr and 5m to run the 8.5 miles to Greenhead park, Huddersfield and then run Huddersfield parkrun. Steve managed a good run round Greenhead park to finish and I got to run with my family for their first run of 2016 it was a great day. That was then topped off by the following day being my birthday and another parkrun where I managed to run round just 2 seconds off my PB, which after running 15 miles the day before was absolutely brilliant, let's hope that the rest of 2016 continues like it has started. 

My beginners group has already had an awesome start to 2016 as well with 6 new faces yesterday one of which was Dexter and he did amazingly too. It was a great start to the year for the beginners group and I can see a lot of potential in them all too, I'm really looking forward to the next session and also the intermediate group this evening.

To finish I'll add afraid my favourite photos from the year.

Let's keep it up everyone and keep running

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Marcothon challenge is upon us again, how will this years challenge go?

My blog posts these days are very sporadic and when I do post it seems to be just race write ups, and when I do have something other than races to write about I don't seem to find time to blog. The other reason I don't blog as much as I used to is a little 2 year old called Flynn!  Yeah he's 2 now and very bossy too. He has discovered words and a few sentences so I get told to get him things a lot or take him places he can't quite reach yet, like cupboards, shelves and mainly the fridge because he wants everything now and won't wait till Lunch or Tea. The main reason I don't blog as much is my best ideas come when I'm out running and by the time I'm home it's gone, memory like a sieve some times!
A Flynn selfie

So what have I been up to recently? Well since the marathon I've taken it a little easier dropping the distances on my runs to no more than about 10 miles and I've been happy to now and again say to myself, I don't have to run today so I won't. That's not because I've lost the love of running or the inspiration to get out there and pound the streets, no. The thing with marathon or longer training is the amount of time you're away from family, and it's especially unfair on SJ as my runs we're mainly when she gets home from work. So she would come home we would have a little time together then I would be out running for a couple of hours, come home jump in the shower and then she would be out doing her things (Judo, Pub Quiz and Beavers). So it's been nice to be able to sit down with her and just do nothing, watch a bit of TV and just enjoy being in the same house together.

A photo of SJ and I at the recent Stadium Runners 10th anniversery awards night and a rare night out for us, it was a great night.

I have done a couple of races since the marathon, the Guy Fawkes 10 over at Ripley castle which was a tough hilly 10 miler, but I finished in a very pleasing time and comfortably too. Then there was the Leeds Abbey Dash which I entered for one reason only, to go for a sub 40 time as I had been so close to it at the York 10k a few months back. Things didn't go to plan and I finished it in 41.04 which is my second fastest 10k time and a nearly 5 minute course PB, which I had to remind myself about as I was a little annoyed that I couldn't break the 40 minute mark. I know it will come but I had set my sights on it and was feeling great leading up to it, plus it's probably the first race that I've done where I haven't hit my target or surprised myself at how well I had done. I've stopped being so hard on myself and just got on with my usual weekly runs but as always my thoughts have moved on to the next challenge or figuring out what the next challenge is.

As it is nearly December it would be a shame not to do Marcothon again as it had such an impact on my running last year. For those of you who aren't familiar with Marcothon it's a challenge that someone started a few years ago that has increased in popularity over the last couple of years. Basically you have to run everyday throughout December for a minimum of 5k or 25 mins that includes Christmas Day as well. Last year I started it with a 21.28 5k PB and a 45.33 10k PB and ended the challenge with a 20.52m 5k PB and a 43.14min 10k PB. I did go on to smash those PB a month later but it was the Marcothon challenge that started the transformation in my running. 

This year however I am going to try to run each weekday with Flynn in the buggy unless the weather is bad as it would be just too cruel to take him out in it. That at least will be a little tougher than usual and could just be what I need through December to give me a good start to the new year and hopefully kick start my next set of races in 2016. 

When I started running, now 3 and a half years ago, I just wanted to be able to drop the boys off at school without breaking into a sweat (check, done, unless we run up because we are late) but as I got fitter and could run further I wanted to keep going to see how far I could run. At the time I was thinking 10k, 10 miles, half marathon possibly, but I didn't think about marathons until I had been running about a year, that was just silly to think I could run that far. That seems to be the case with a lot of people who are new to running they build and build and test themselves and push boundaries and limits, but most people will get to a point and then discover their favourite distance. Even if they have run further before they find a distance which challenges them enough without it turning into pain and that feeling of why on earth am I doing this. 

Now I have done a marathon I can say with almost 100% certainty that I still have further to go, the fact I went 26.2 miles for the first official time and only got a tiny bit of cramp at the finish line has made me question just how far could I go again. I am really looking forward to finding out too but like I said earlier it does take up a lot of time away from the family, so this is going to have to be planned very carefully as I love my family to bits and I don't want my hobby (if I can call it that), to take over their lives too much, it's just not fair. Now don't get me wrong it's not like they hate running they quite enjoy it taking part at parkrun each Saturday and junior parkrun on a Sunday too, there are more things in our lives other than running. SJ, Dexter and Clark have taken up Judo and really enjoy it, so much so that all of their faces light up when they talk about it, just like I'm sure mine does when I talk about running. 

So 2016 is going to be the year of Judo Mons, Judo belts and running miles (or Km if you're like me) let's just hope we can all progress together 

Keep running everyone

Monday, 12 October 2015

2015 Yorkshire Marathon race review and my first of many????

All the miles, the sweat, the blisters, the mistakes, and the time away from the family, led me to this, the 2015 Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. 

I hadn't followed a proper training plan leading up to the marathon unlike many of my running friends but I knew what I needed to do and I was determined to get the miles under my belt. I knew I was fit and my legs could take the miles but I just had to do the long runs to prove it to myself mentally before the day so I could just turn up on the day and enjoy the experience. The only thing that could have thrown me mentally was the fact that on my long runs I had only managed to keep to my hopeful marathon pace for the first 13-15 miles then I had slowed down. Now granted there was things called hills that got in the way or failed fuelling runs but it was a negative on the training. Luckily I have some amazing people around me that can't fail to inspire me, keep me positive and just make me happy. Negative, what Negative?! I am normally a very chilled and relax person and take things in my stride good or bad but when it comes to running I'm very positive and very positive with other peoples running too. So when I woke up on Sunday morning at 5.20am feeling nervous I was a little anxious, luckily the walk up to Shelley to meet up with Steven Taylor who was driving Steve, Dan and me over to York gave me time to collect some thoughts. So by the time we were on the M1 I was excited again and I just couldn't wait to get there.

Arriving at Elvington Airfield for the park and run bus service we parked up and jumped straight on a bus heading for the university campus, it was really smoothly done, great organisation. It wasn't long before we pulled into the campus and we were off looking for toilets as you do, and then we hung around the event village and got changed and ready in our outfits, got our gels ready and then dropped off our bags before once again going to the toilets. 

It was getting close to the start of the race so we went to find our assembly zones Steven was in zone 1, Steve and Dan were in zone 2 and I was in zone 3 because I signed up before my running had improved so I was down as an estimated time of over 4 hours. As my running has come on leaps and bounds since the start of the year and my training has been going well, I was aiming for a time somewhere between 3h30 and 3h20 so to be back in zone 3 was confusing whether or not it was a good place for me to be. As I tend to set off a bit too fast was it better that I would have so many people in front of me to hold me up but at the same time they could hold me up too much. They could also help mentally as I will hopefully be overtaking lots of people and the more positive thoughts I can get as I run round the better but I could also fall into a slower pace by following the wrong person, so it was a strange and hard to predict what would happen.So I made sure I was right at the front of the zone to give me the best chance ofnot being held up, but it still seemed really far back from where my friends were and I could see the 4 hour pacer in zone 2 and the 3h30 pacer in zone 1. Plus in between zone 2 and 3 was the corporate relay runners but at least they should be faster in theory as they were only running 5km each before handing over to another runner. Just before the start there was a minutes applause for a fellow runner who was due to run the race but sadly died before he could test himself on the streets of York. It was a great show of respect and a reminder that it doesn't matter that much if you reach your goal or fail just as long as you try. It was that moment that I just focused and said to myself just stick to my target pace as much as you can and if I needed to slow down it doesn't matter just enjoy the occasion. If this was going to be my only marathon because I just couldn't do and it was just a bit too far for me at least I could enjoy the atmosphere and remember the day for that and not the failure.

There was a countdown and the 2015 Yorkshire marathon was underway but it was a further 3 minutes before I was crossing the start line and off running through the centre of York. The crowds did help me not shoot off trying to catch the guys, they kept me honest and settled my adrenaline boost until I was running nice and steady at a good pace just overtaking a few people at a time. I found my target pace of 4.45m/km and kept my focus on the route and the surroundings rather than the other runners, just so I didn't start picking someone out and trying to chase them down. There were exceptions to that and they were people that I knew or had met on the day, for instance Steven Taylor's friends that run lots of marathons with him. There was a guy dressed in a full clown costume, I forgot his name but you don't forget a clown costume, another guy with a red top on that I briefly saw before we started and Mike Wells who wore a halo and wings but I knew I would be any near him as he's a phenomenal runner on a run streak of 1500+ days which is just incredible in itself nevermind the distances he puts in. So when I could see the clown in the distance I felt myself pick up the pace a little and as I passed him I got a psycological boost and then kept to my plan and pace. I was soon closing in on the guy with the red top and again I picked up the pace until I was passed him. I was just hitting the first 10k check point at this point and was bang on track, it seemed to fly by the first 10k which was a great feeling. 

It wasn't long before I was catching another stadium runner in Andy Pigg who was aiming for sub 3h30 and I could see the 3h30 pacer not far in front of him so I thought he was doing well. I slowed a little to chat to him to see how he was doing and feeling but he was a bit down beat as things weren't going to plan and he could feel a couple of niggles. I tried to keep him positive and gave him a wish of good luck as I picked up my pace again and set my sights on the 3h30 pacer. This however was the first real time I was held up since the start as we hit a narrow country road section of the route. The swarm of runners that surrounded the pacer was so big that for runners like me that we're trying to slowly make our way past were having trouble and had to be very patient so as not to trip anyone up whilst we made our way through the pack. I even had to wait until wider parts of the road or grassy verges so I could go round people safely, I didn't want to affect other people runs just because I was a little inpatient. Eventually just after the 10 mile mark I was clear of the pack again and the difference in the size of the field was amazing, I had plenty space to pick up my pace again and get back on track with my plan. It was long before the halfway point was in sight, some timing strips and a clock, I hit the timing strip at half marathon distance in a time of 1h40m44s which was pleasing I just had to hope that I can keep my pace up and that the second half wasn't too much slower than that. I expected that from that time I would end up crossing the finish around about 3h25m which was still under my target so a great confidence boost. SJ was at home keeping an eye on my progress via the Yorkshire marathon app and this is what she got at this point.

From my memory of the course route I knew there was an out and back section coming up and it was long before I could hear it too so as I reached a road junction I could see runners going in both directions so I knew where I was and this was a chance to see my friends going the other way and to see if I was catching them at all. I saw Steven Taylor and gave him a big clap and cheer and then a bit further back I saw Dan and gave him a big cheer as he was doing really well and was looking strong, he was also doing his first marathon and was in an excellent position at mile 14. After I hit the switch back point I started to keep an eye out for the runners I knew, to see how they were doing, I saw Andy Pigg and gave him a big cheer. Once again I was upping my pace as I was closing in on Dan and after a little chat with him was passing him and on my way up a very slight incline towards mile 16 and the start/finish of the second out and back section. I hadn't paid enough attention to the route as this section seemed to go on forever, luckily there was a couple of spectator points here with quite a large crowd of people at each point cheering everyone on, it was great and kept my spirits high. Not that they had dropped or anything as still at mile 17 I felt amazing and was have a great time. I saw Steve for the first time at this section and he looked like he was flying, I gave him a cheer and carried on to the switch back point where just before it I saw Steven Taylor and he just said this is where it's all in your head. Which was a great reminder and bit of advice because I said to myself, you're feeling good and all you have to do now is run 13km which you do pretty much every other day at home it's nothing. So with a long steady climb back up to the end of the out and back section I took all the excitement and positive feelings I had and put my foot down so to speak. Reaching the top of the incline and the end of the out and back section I still felt amazing and passing the 20 mile marker I just said to myself only a 10k left. This is where at the start of the race I was afraid I might fall apart as I hadn't had the best long runs in training past this distance, but I saw Steven Taylor a couple of hundred metres away and used him as a target like with the others. As he got closer I thought if I just stay with him I know I should be on for a great time, but as I drew alongside him and had a little chat with him I knew I had more in the tank. So when he said kick on I didn't hesitate at all, and before I knew it we were down to the final 7km, not that 7km to go is a distinctive point in a marathon but it just stood out to me. I found myself counting them down now and as I did that my pace started to slow so I had to focus and remember to lift my knees more and to keep swinging my arms otherwise my posture would slump and I would start to drag my feet rather than thrusting my knees forward. I could feel the muscles in my upper legs becoming slightly painful from about 4km to go and I knew that if I was to slow now or speed up too much I could quite easily get cramp, so I really had to maintain my pace more than ever. 

Turning the corner at the 40km mark a very helpful man was shouting not long to go now just a mile, normally that would be really hard to find exciting but after 25 of them the last one sounds brilliant. It was also at this point that the quiet( village roads started turning into more busy city roads full of sounds from the spectators shouting their words of encouragement and taking photos. Then as I reached University road I knew I was almost there, all I had to do is push myself up this final hill which was steeper than I remember when running down it at the start. I did it though and I was on the final 500m stretch where Kath Pinnington captured this photo. 

I was now running down the hill to where I started round the little round-about and then down to the finish where Mr Simon "the bunny" Brass was marshalling and shouting. I was so happy to see him and hear him it was one of my favourite moments of the race and if I hadn't been trying to hit my target I would have stopped for a big bunny hug. So a high five was it for now although I did start to cramp up as I passed him so I ended up crossing the line a little tenderly, I had done it, I had run a marathon. It didn't hit a first as a just walked on like I had crossed the line at parkrun and done it a hundred times before even stopping to say hello to Tom Williams (parkrun uk Manager) and have a brief little chat although because of the slight cramp I had to keep moving. 

SJ then got this message on her app.

On to the T-Shirt and medal area I went where I met Steve where I also remembered to look at my watch for the first time. I had completed my first marathon in 3h19m57s which was better than I had expected, I was gob smacked and even more so when Steve showed me his time of 3h19m24s which meant I was within 30ish of him. He's such a good runner that if I can get close to him I know I've done really well. Then as Steven T crossed the line and in a time of 3h24m10s it hit me that I had finished my marathon with a negative split, I was speechless for a little bit and didn't know what to do with myself briefly. Then Dan came across the line finishing his first marathon in a time of 3h27m44s which was brilliant and a sub 3h30 which he had planned and trained for, well done Dan. We headed off towards the event village to pick up our bags and meet family etc. and when we got there we went straight over to get our medals engraved with our times on. It was whilst in the queue and checking phones that the emotions hit me and at one point I was very close to bursting into tears. It was so overwhelming and a little surprising that I felt that emotional but at the same time I was thinking damn right look what you've just done, well done you. 

After we had all got our medals engraved we went for a well deserved beer and sit down. We all went through our phones tagging photos and responding to all the message and comments on Facebook and Twitter etc. and after that it wasn't long before we were talking about which marathon to do next. It was a truly amazing experience that how couldn't you talk about another one, even if it did hurt a bit, it was worth it. All the emotions that came with the race and day made up for most of the pain and all the comments from friends and family at home gave me such a great buzz that I will never forget the day I completed my first marathon. According to my chip time result I came 324 out of 3951 which puts me in the top 10% (8.2% to be prescise!) and that is just fantastic. We finished our drinks and headed back to the buses and to the airfield to pick up Steven T's car so then we could get off home and into a well deserved bath. 

Now that the marathon is out of the way the rest of the year seems a doddle up next is the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race and then the Abbey Dash to try and get my Sub 40 10k. If I can get my sub 40 before the end of the year I will be one happy boy. Other than entering races I also have another race to organise this time it's the Windmill 6 on the tops above Birdsedge and Ingbirchworth resivoir, keep your eyes out for that one, it should be a cracking race.

So until then, keep running everyone.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Shepley 10k 2015 - New course record and lots of amazing times

The Shepley 10k returned again a couple of Sunday's ago, (Sept 13th) for its 3rd year and again we had an amazing day and turnout.

This year we were again graciously hosted by the Cricket Club and they were once again having their family fun day with stalls and games to play, along with a BBQ and some music. The local Beaver scout group also had some activities going on as well as crafts and glitter tattoos, the kids really enjoy it. The cricket club hosted the kids fun run again this year and were amazed by the turnout, so much so that they introduced age categories..

On the morning of the race I was up early to send the boys and SJ off to Huddersfield junior parkrun whilst I went to set up the course with Km markers, arrows and other signage. The weather was glorious and a complete change from the day before where it decided to rain pretty much all day, there was now barely a cloud in the sky and no hint of wind which is unusual for Shepley. I finished off the course and ended up back at the Cricket Club to make sure things at the start were in order. I organised the back of my car so I could use it as a registration base made sure I had all the goody bags, t-shirts and water. I had everything but a course map and as people started to arrive it was clear I really needed one, luckily SJ had arrived which gave me the opportunity to pop home and print one off and as I returned things were starting to build up nicely. My volunteers were arriving and quite a few on the day entrants had also turned up easing my nerves about breaking even on the costs.

As the start time was approaching I was getting more excited, more excited than last year and most other events I'd been to. I wonder if this will happen every year, whether it will get more exciting each year or not, I hope so. Next year there is the possibility of the Shepley 10k being on the Stadium runners championship calendar which would mean more runners, more excitement and more money for the Cricket Club. I don't want to think too far ahead but the Shepley 10k could be a really good event and I can't wait to see how it develops.

We all gathered at the start line and I gave a brief safety announcement and then left the countdown to SJ, 3,2,1 and we were off, I still didn't know at what pace I was going to run, fast, slow to watch people go by or with Jessie. Like last year it wasn't until I hit the road outside the club that I made up my mind, and as last year and pretty much most races I went for it, I enjoy going fast just too much. I headed down Marsh lane towards the co-op and made a left on to station road and then again on to Jos lane where I made up a few places on the long flat section of the course. The race director in me was still worrying whether the people in front of me were going the right way but as I went past marshals they reassured my fears as they all seemed happy that every was going the right way. This meant that I could just enjoy the race, the hills and the picturesque scenery on this glorious day.

The hills as big as they are flew by and I was soon up at Snowgate and heading out towards the main road and the final small climb before the long fast finish down Marsh Ln back to the Cricket Club and the finish. I crossed the line in 6th place knocking 8 seconds of my PB which is awesome considering some of the times that people managed on the day. There was some amazing times across the board and even our last place finisher did the route in a brilliant time considering the hills and his return from a slight injury. 1st place was taken in a new record time of 36m10s knocking 4 minutes of last years record, he ran round the course that fast that our announcer missed him crossing the line. Well done Tom and I hope you return next year to defend your title....

 Whilst the race was happening the cricket club was organizing the fun run for the kids and they did a great job, the numbers were great too. They had about 40 juniors on the day, so many that they separated them into age categories which made it a lot more fun for the smaller ones as it gave them a chance to win a medal. There was 3 different age groups and it worked really well and the kids all got a sweetie goody bag at the end, I think sweets at the end would've been enough for all of them anyway, so the medals for the top 3 was a nice bonus.

The family fun day was great again with BBQ, bouncy castle, stalls and music. With the sun shining everyone had a amazing time and the kids were running between stalls and activities making sure they got as many goes as possible. It was a great event for the Cricket Club but it could be better and hopefully next year with the race growing in popularity and it being added to the Stadium Runners club calendar it will bring extra people to the club. In all honesty the race could have been better too, as I think both Cricket Club and myself could have advertised the day a lot better and should have spread the word a lot more too. So considering we hadn't done the best we could the outcome we got was truly awesome and so encouraging. 

I might have some other news about the Shepley 10k and my new race The Windmill 6 coming soon so keep reading and keep running everyone.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Quick update of the last 4 months and the completion of the June 10k challenge

The past four months as I try to remember now are a bit blurred but I know I have done loads and started lots of new adventures. So I will try to unravel my brain as I write this blog, so things may end up a bit higgledy piggledy.

May started with a hard slog of a race with the lovely sounding name 'the Bluebell 10 mile trail' which because of overnight bad weather turned into an 11.3 mile trail run and even though we were warned, it was mentally very hard. 

That race was followed by the first session of the beginners running group I had started as part of the Jog Kirklees course I had previously been on. For the first session 3 amazing people turned up and allowed me to push them further than they had run in a long time. They did amazingly and have returned most weeks to push themselves even further and enjoyed doing it at the same time. I've really enjoyed it and I'm really proud of how well they've all done. They have now managed to complete a 5k run each week with me and sometimes even a bit further.

After that there was the Leeds half marathon and the final half marathon of my challenge to raise money for Dexters school. It went really well even though at the time I may have whinged and moaned about my time and performance, and Jennifer who was also running for the school had a great time and got an amazing result. 

After that the rest of May seemed a bit tepid, or bland, like it was missing something, and it was. The excitement and determination to get out and run had disappeared slightly and I found myself saying oh well I will run tomorrow and justifying it too. So I needed something to pick me up and get me out there ready for the marathon training which was going to start in July. So that is when I came up with the idea of the June 10k challenge, based on the Marcothon challenge in December. For which I gave great credit to for getting my parkrun times down to what they are now. So simply(and I use that in terms of the idea not doing it) all I had to do was run a minimum of 10k everyday in June, to help build my fitness and keep my mind active in preparation for marathon training. I was going to do it all by myself but decide to make a Facebook event and invite others to join me in this crazy challenge. I didn't expect many if anyone to join me but as June approached a few people started to talk about possibly trying it. 

As June started and the first few days went by the 10k's were nice and steady. I didn't want to burn myself out too early, and neither did the 9 or so other people that started the challenge with me. To be honest 9 people joining me on this silly challenge was incredible and 9 more than I expected. There was even a friend of a friend who was taking part in Spain with the Spanish temperatures too, truly amazing. One of the challengers Victoria did drop out after a few days but as she had only be running a couple of months. I thought she was awesome for even starting it with us. She had recently joined us at Huddersfield parkrun the month before and was chipping away at her PB each week. That in itself was incredible, she was pushing herself each week and was challenging herself to go further too.

The remaining challengers were continuing each day to be awesome and keep up with the 10k's and when we could meet up (mainly after parkrun or at junior parkrun) we would heap praise on each other. Or at least they did with each other, I got a lot of abuse mainly in jest for making them do this challenge and for coming up with the idea. As soon as I would see Frances or Chris at parkrun it would be "I hate you" or "I'm not talking to you today" which did make me chuckle a lot mainly because I am a little evil but mostly because I knew they only half meant it. Maybe some days about 75% meant it other days 100%. We chatted to each other on the event page on Facebook helping each other out and sharing our stories which was really nice too. As the month began to come to and end SJ had some mugs made up to give to the everyone that completed the June 10k challenge, they went down really well and I thought it was a great way to well done. As all 9 of us had done amazing it really was great to present them all with their mugs and see their smiles at the end of the month having done 300+ km's. There were 10k PB's during June from most of us and even some 5k PB's too. Awesome job everyone and please don't kill me if I come round next year suggesting it again.

There was one thing I hadn't taken into account when I planned the June 10k challenge and that was the Stadium runners club championship race "The Helen Windsor 10k" on July 1st that I had entered prior to the June challenge, Do'h. Plus it was on one of the hottest and muggiest days of the year, so to come home in 43m45s I was very happy, considering the conditions and the 300+ km's in the month leading up to it.

Early July was a nice and steady month with not a lot on the cards but I was keeping myself ticking over. I even managed to knock a few seconds off my parkrun PB down to 19.09, that put a smile on my face for quite a while that day. The second half of July and I was really trying to extend my runs and clock up the miles as a start of my marathon training and what better way to do that than 14 miles at the Northumberland coastal run, yeah? Wrong it was hard work, I completed it and even came in as 3rd stadium runner male but damn it was hard to keep it going at the end of that race. Gorgeous race and lovely atmosphere just completely unprepared for the sand, sand dunes, coastal paths and road on the route. The change in terrain was the hardest thing, I had no idea it would zap the energy in your legs and mind as much as it did. Glad I did it though. SJ and the boys came up with me and we camped (when I say camped we were in a camper van which was a bit easier) overnight the night before the race which was fun and the boys first camping trip with SJ and I.

July has also seen me take up the task of training to be a UKA grade 2 course measurer, which I had stumbled upon when investigating getting the Shepley 10k officially measured and licensed by UK Athletics. I've been completing some online theory lessons in my spare time and I'm pleased to say I've passed and I'm now waiting to complete my practical seminar which is in October. Once I have completed it I shall be an official course measurer and could be responsible for marking out a race near you soon. It's been really enjoyable and having to use some of my brain for a change has been brilliant and a real confidence booster. I had lost a lot of confidence in my brain actually working when I have spent the last 7 years at at home with small people, I wouldn't have changed the last 7 years for anything but I need to keep the old noggin ticking away now and again.

August has been chilled with school holidays and our family holiday it's been great to get out on the bikes with the boys and do things as a family whilst still getting my runs in. August has also seen the best non stag do stag do ever which ended up with the stag up on stage singing with THE Sugarhill gang, I mean it can't get better than that can it? That night I also decided to run home afterwards at about 2.30am I set off running home drunk, not the best of ideas but I seemed to get faster and faster as I went along and even managed a PR on a Strava segment too! This was created to memorialise the night.

Then a week later the awesome stag and his also awesome fiancée got married and a few days later we had an amazing time at their wedding party. It was a great night and great to see two of the nicest people we know so happy. There was lots of talk of Sugarhill Gang on the night as well as drunken runs home luckily there weren't any that night.

September is creeping up on us and that means one thing, Clark will start School! He's been ready for school for a while now but now it's a few weeks away it seems weird and I can't believe that he's that old already. Flynn could even start pre-school soon with his 2nd birthday on the 11th, that is far to soon but could mean I could go running in the morning whilst he's at pre-school.

Well I think that's everything caught up but if not I can add it to the next one which hopefully won't be in another 4 months. The Shepley 10k is soon so I'm sure that will get a blog all of its own or at least with some marathon training thrown in too. 

Well until then,

Keep running everyone

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Half marathon No2 for Dexter's School and what a Beast the Huddersfield Half is!

Just a week after the Yorkshire Half marathon and it was time for Half Marathon No2 and this was the big one, the Huddersfield Half/Full Marathon arguably the toughest road half/full marathon in the UK. This was the 2nd half that I was doing for Dexter's School and it was the chosen half for 5 other parents too, Emma, Lisa, Andy, Philip, and Mike. They were very brave to take up this challenge but after I did it last year I would say it is one race that you have to tick off your bucket list as a runner. It's challenging, but the route is in some stunning scenery and all organised very well since its return from a 20 year absence.

The day started with Huddersfield junior parkrun with the SJ and the boys which is always a great start to any Sunday.

As soon as the last junior crossed the line I rushed away upto the Huddersfield YMCA and registration for the Huddersfield half marathon. It was a completely different feel for me this year compared with last year, I was a lot more confident and knew a lot more people, so rather than the usual nerves and butterflies I was really calm but excited. I met up with the other parents minus Mike who unfortunatly couldn't make it, and we all discussed our various targets and hopes (mainly sarcastic hopes of finishing it) before we gathered for a Pre run photo.

Left to right, Me, Andy, Philip, Emma and Lisa.

There was a group warm up before they sent us to the starting pen and we wished each other good luck. As my running has gone from strength to strength I have become more confident, I hope it does not come across as cocky but I am enjoying my progression. This confidence was on show when I made my way to the front of the pen and almost stood on the front row as I wanted to get the best start I could. 

Matthew Kelly gave a run brief making sure we all went left out of the drive unlike last year when we turned right by mistake, then the lady from the Pulse gave us a 10 second countdown before we were let loose on this monstrous course. Having run the course before I felt like I could let loose a bit to start with as I knew there was an easyish start, before the first climb at least. As I reached Lindley moor I was feeling comfortable and headed downhill feeling ready for the first climb, and as I rembered it was basically up hill for the next 3km/2miles. Halfway up the climb I was snapped by a couple of photographers and from the photos you can see how much I was still enjoying myself.

When I reached the peak of the first climb I had completed the first 5km in 21 mins and ahead of target which was great, especially as it was now downhill for a while. This downhill wasn't easy as it is so steep in places you really burn your quads slowing yourself down so you don't just tumble down the hill. At this point I took a moment to look around taking in the views and was shocked at just what was about to happen. The next hill was the biggest on the route but I had forgotten just how big, as I was running down to Steele Lane the hill just seemed to grow and grow. It seemed to loom over you like a laughing giant just before he stood on you and crushed you with ease, and reaching the bottom of Steele Lane just made it harder as you can't see the top. Last year I think I made it up the hill about 300 metres, this year I just wanted to go beyond that but to my surprise I just kept going and going. Matthew Kelly drove past me near the top on his course checking duties and I even managed a little chat with him still running of course. Grabbing a drink at the top I caught my breath and carried on at a great pace, heading towards the halfway point at Scammonden Dam and the M62. A couple of runner friends Jo and Neil were manning the water and feed station here, as well as taking some photos, (great multitasking guys well done). It's always nice to see friendly faces on runs or in races it does help you push that little bit extra or just keeps you smiling.

This was just what I needed as my ankle/Achilles/calf not sure which, was really starting to hurt, I think it was a leftover injury from the Yorkshire half and a run with stadium runners the following day. Whichever it was, it was starting to slow me down and as I crossed the dam along side the M62 I was happy that I was halfway now and could start to count down again. The next few miles were mainly keeping my focus and trying to keep my pace at a decent level over the next hill and across the tops until the long downhill section from Scapegoat Hill down to Longwood. This section was great to help me maintain my pace whilst catching my breath, until I reached the bottom where the start of the final climb is. It's just a shame that it is a long steady up hill that drains all your remaining energy. It also has a sting in its tail at the end with a steep section and a tight right turn in it to test your resolve and grit before the final 400 metres. My pace had dropped at this point but as I exited the underpass and ran up onto New Hay Rd with the finish turning in sight I dug deep and bolted for the finish. Turning into the YMCA for the last 100m I was greeted by Mark and Eli cheering me on.
Then turning the final corner my boys, SJ, my Dad and Liam and Izzie were cheering my final few steps. I felt amazing and forgetting my ankle crossed the line to finish in 1hr42m and 19 mins quicker than last year and in 14th place too.

After collecting my t-shirt and medal I got my high 5's from the boys and SJ then waited around for the others to complete their runs. Next through for the parents was Emma in 1hr54m and 5th lady overall, which was a fabulous result and well and truly deserved.
It wasn't long before Andy came round the final bend and finished in 1hr57m.  Well done Andy you did amazingly.

Philip had stuck with Andy until about halfway then dropped off the pace a little but still finished in an awesome time of 2hr07m, however he did describe the race as the worst thing he had ever done. I'm sure he is feeling a bit different about it now, or I hope so as he did brilliantly.

Lisa was the final parent from our group to complete the half marathon in a time of 2hr23m, she did amazingly as she was aiming at 2hr30m at the start, and came in under that so well done Lisa.

We all gathered for one final photo and that was it we had all done it, we had all accomplished great times and our friends and family were ever so proud of us.

Well that's 2 out of the 3 half marathons done now and with my sore ankle I'm glad that the Leeds Half marathon is 3 weeks away. It should be enough time to rest it as long as I can keep myself from going out for a run in the mean time, which is difficult as I am really enjoying running even with the aches and pains.

Oh well let's see how it goes.

Next up it's the Shepley Juniors turn anyway as they run at Huddersfield Juniors parkrun for the school, it will be awesome I'm sure as it always is.

Keep running everyone