Sunday, 22 February 2015

Huddersfield 10k third time's a charm plus 100 days of running update.

This past Sunday was the Huddersfield 10k and it was the 3rd time I had run this event. It was also the first 10k race I ever entered so it has all sorts of nostalgia embedded into it. The first year I did it I had no idea what I was in for and just gunned it. So when I came across an almighty hill I ran up it far to quick for my fitness and ended up throwing my guts up at the top of it. Which gave me a debut time of 58 mins which at the time I was delighted by. Last year I went into the race with a different mentality and just planning to get round without throwing up and hopefully no walking. However I got to the 2nd hill where the year previous I had thrown up at the top and I mentally psyched myself out. I ran up the hill at a steady pace and just got slower and slower until I gave up and walked the last 10/15 metres. At the top this time there was no surprise appearances from my breakfast and I was soon running again and on to the next hill. I crossed the finish line this time in 51mins knocking 7mins off my PB. I was over the moon with the time and my performance, I also felt a lot more comfortable the 2nd time as I knew a few more people and faces. The first time I took part I was like a lost deer just cautiously trotting about not knowing what to do. 

This years Huddersfield 10k was completely different, so much has changed and happened in the last 12 months. Well mainly in the last 3/4 months if I'm honest due to me taking my running a little bit more seriously and personal challenges I've set myself. Plus with SJ and I being heavily involved in parkrun and junior parkrun we have become friends with lots of other parkrunners. Also I recognise lots more faces from other runs/races throughout the year. This made the race feel a lot more comfortable from the start, but the overwhelming factor that made this years race more exciting than the previous one was the fact that I'm now a member of  Stadium runners, and was running in club colours. 

With my running going from strength to strength recently I was expecting a new PB but wasn't quite sure what it would be on such a tough course. I hadn't even set a goal time until Simon Brass inadvertently set me a challenge by telling me his PB from the previous year when he was in great shape. So I was hoping to be near Simon's PB of 45 mins, which seemed to be the common target of other runners as we congregated in the starting pen. Whilst we were still chatting away with each other the starting horn went and we were off and charging up the drive to the main road. As always the first 3km is a long hard stretch that gets progressively steeper until you reach Netherton where a huge crowd gathers to cheer everyone on. I'm sure the crowds get bigger every year and this year it helped push me that extra little bit up to the top of the climb. There was so many people there that I knew and they were great shouting me and others up the last few hundred metres of the hill before we headed off back down the other side. It's always a welcomed sight after such a long climb and it gives you a chance to catch your breath and pick up the pace again before the next climb. On the run down to the next hill you turn off the main road on to a side road and it was nice to see the Olives corner sign from parkrun so after a quick thank you Olive I was off the main road and preparing myself for the 2nd Hill. As I neared the bottom of the hill Jo King (A guy who lives near me and does training runs on the same hills as me, and I am always trying but failing to beat his Strava segments) past me and gave me a quick "well done Matthew" as he went past. It was great to know that I was running at the same pace as him, as he is fast, so it gave me a boost. So on the next hill I managed to pass him and got to the top of it without walking and without throwing up, which was a big mental achievement. Once at the top I was greeted by yet more friendly and familiar people who cheered me on again. I kicked on and it wasn't long before I was at the 3rd and last climb back up to Netherton. It was another long and steady uphill but this year I was ready for it and even managed to pass Matthew Kelly (a parkrunner who is faster than me and maybe my next target to aim for at parkrun) just as I reached the top. Here you are greeted again by the warm applause and loud cheering from people at Netherton, plus a few photographers.

Jo King was now passing me on the final hill section showing just why he has so many CR Strava segments around the Shelley/Shepley area. But that was the 3 major hills done and it was mainly down hill from here including a downhill that you have to hold yourself back on. It's that steep you could quite easily fall if you just let gravity do the work, so you have to ease off a little. By now a lot of people are starting to slow down as the hills have zapped their energy but this year I was still full of gusto and ready for the last quick section. 

After a little climb from Armitage Bridge up to the main road at Berry Brow it was now time to extend the legs again with only 2km to go. I tried to gradually pick up the pace so that by the finish straight I should be able to give it a sprint finish. I managed the last bit really well and as I reached the driveway to the Rugby ground and finish Mark Nicholson (parkrun ED) was there cheering me on which helped me find a little bit extra as well. I could hear a couple of guys behind me chasing me down so I said to myself 'not today fellas!' and gunned it to the line. I hadn't looked at my watch at all over the last 5km so I had no real idea what time I had got, so when I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin I was surprised at what I had just done. On my 3rd attempt I managed a 43.39min knocking nearly 8 minutes off my previous best, I was over the moon and the little kid in me just wanted to giggle for a while.

I came in 70th place and the 14th Stadium runner which was absolutely brilliant. 

My recent training and my challenge of running a 100 days in a row has definitely worked a treat as I just seem to be improving all the time. There was evidence of this just yesterday when I went down to Stadium Runners and took part in the No Pain No Gain (NPNG) track session, where we did speed work and gradually increased the work effort. Starting with a few laps of steady work, a ladder system, then finished off with a fast couple of 500m. After completing 13 400 metre laps which included 4 rest/recovery laps I managed a 5k PB of 19.24min. Plus after uploading my data at home I found out I had done a few other PBs, my 1 mile time, 2 mile time and a 400m time that could have rivalled my High school PB time.

So after a short run this morning I'm now 86 days into my 100 days of running challenge and only have 2 weeks left to go. I'm still really enjoying it and I'm going to miss it, I am really hoping I can keep my times up when I drop a couple of days from my training.  I'm really proud of the times I am producing at the moment.   Once the challenge has ended my races will have started so I'm sure that I will be trying to improve especially with all my half marathons this Easter.  There is the marathon training that will start in June leading up to the Yorkshire marathon in October. 

So after a great weekend all I can say is thank you, thank you to everyone who cheered me and the rest of the runners up those hills on the Huddersfield 10k. Plus a thank you to Stadium runners you have certainly help me improve since joining you in November.

Keep running everyone

Sunday, 8 February 2015

100 days of running updated and PBs galore!!!!

Since completing the #marcothon challenge in December I've carried on running every day and have now completed the second 3rd of #100daysofrunning currently I am on day 73. Since the start of the year I've tried to take it easy on my legs and set a minimum run distance of 2km. This is for a few reasons, it's an easy distance for those days after long runs or if I'm struggling for time. Or if I really want an easy run I could run with Clark and Dexter at junior parkrun. Clark has been running at juniors now he's turned 4 and he loves it and he runs with Dexter, high 5-ing all the marshals as he goes round. 

This challenge has completely taken me by surprise and continues to everyday. Before starting the challenge I was worried how it was going to effect my legs and weather I could find time to run. So far my legs have felt great and my family have been brilliant and helped me make time to run by watching the boys a few times. Plus SJ has been very supportive letting me go for runs almost whenever I have wanted to, she's amazing like that.

As the days have gone on, the times of my runs have slowly come down and I've felt incredible at times. I've consistently managed to break my PB's and not just my times, I've pushed myself to run further too. Just this past Sunday I completed 16 miles which is the furthest I've ever run and whilst doing the distance I had my first proper run at a set pace for marathon training etc. I completed 13 miles at a pace of 9 minute miles and then for the last 3 miles/5 Km I just went for it at my own pace. I finished off the 16 miles with a 22 min 5k which shocked me considering that the last 5km of the brass monkey half marathon was a real struggle only 3 weeks ago. My parkrun times so far this year have just got better and better too with a couple of amazing runs where I managed to knock off a serious amount of time off my PB. My first fast run of the new year saw me smash my PB by 53s and taking me below 20mins for the first time ever, I thought this was going to be an impossible target 2 months ago. But here I was and the smile I had from that didn't shift for a while. Then this past Saturday I only went and knocked another 28s off that time, setting my 5km PB at 19.28. It's now 4 days later and I still can't believe it, I still smile when I think about it.

So this weekend has been superb, a parkrun PB Saturday, a 16 mile distance PB on Sunday, I couldn't have had a better weekend really. I was really expecting a big crash at some point, were my legs going to finally start to protest, or wake up with really sore feet and blisters? So when I woke up on Monday morning and all they were was a little stiff I was surprised. So at that point my head was already think about my next run, would I be up for the Stadium Runners 10k time trial or not. I decided to go and just see how the legs responded to the warm up, then I would know whether or not to go for it or just have steady run. As soon as I arrived I was already queuing for my number, I think the excitement of topping my weekend off with another PB was overriding my sensibleness. We headed up to the start for the warm up and after a couple of laps of the car park my legs where ready to go. As soon as the horn went for the start of the race I knew this was going to be tough. Although once I hit that first km mark and my time was sub 4 mins I was pumped and it gave me a helping burst as I started my assent up to the Fixby round-about. The training was paying off completely and it wasn't long before I was at the top of Bradley road and on my decent again towards Leeds Rd. Once I was on Leeds Rd I knew my time was good as long as I could keep my pace up on the last 3.5km. I dug deep and kept going, soon I turned on to the finish straight and I kept an eye on my Garmin as I crossed the line. Now when I did this run last time it was on day 1 of this challenge and that time I got a PB of 43.05mins for the 10k, 70 days later and I had smashed my PB by 2 minutes and 1 second. 41.04 was my officially recorded time and I was buzzing, my hands where shaking slightly I was that happy at what I had just done, or the adrenaline was still pumping. I was even more shocked because of the weekend I had put myself through too, with a PB at parkrun then 16 miles on Sunday to then smash a 10k was incredible. 

I have now set myself a few targets for the rest of my challenge which I hope will help me when It comes to the 7 weeks of half marathons I have signed up for. Which start just under 3 weeks after the 100 day challenge finishes, hopefully I will have a few rest days in that period. Although I am becoming very used to going out for a run everyday it will feel strange when I don't have to worry whether I will be able to make time for a run or not.

At the moment a lot of my running friends are either way into their marathon training plans or just starting them. So I would just like to say that you are all very inspirational and you are keeping me going through this challenge and easing my fears of starting my own training plan for my first marathon in October. Thank you to everyone who has helped me so far and it will soon be over and the Facebook posts will stop or at least for a while.

Keep running everyone