Wednesday, 22 April 2015
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.
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
Monday, 13 April 2015
It was now time to start my Half Marathon challenges to raise money for Dexter's school (Shepley First School) and first up was the Yorkshire Half Marathon. There were three of us from the school taking on this half marathon and I don't think any of us were quite ready for the challenge that unfolded, but each one us completed it with satisfying times and/or performances.
The day started bright and early with a stop over at Skelmanthorpe to pick up my friend Steve before picking up a couple of other parents from the School. Emma and Andy were also raising money for the School by running the Yorkshire Half Marathon with me. They had chosen the Yorkshire half over the Huddersfield and Leeds halves for different reasons but all 3 of us were still a little apprehensive about what was only an hour away. As we arrived at the edge of the city we all suddenly felt the nerves kick in and the excitement start to build. So when we finally parked up we were just itching to get up to our assembly points and soak up the atmosphere. We arranged a meet up point for afterwards, wished each other good luck and joined our different starting points, things were now getting serious. Steve joined the blue group, Emma and Andy in the green group with myself in the red group, or at least I was suppose to. Whilst I was walking down the road to find the start of the red group I noticed a pacer with a 1hr45 banner amongst the blue group so I just jumped in there. Even then I thought I was still to far back, so when I saw another friend and fellow stadium runner Steve Taylor we moved further up the group together. I was now just behind the 1hr35 pacer and it felt about right, there was still a lot of people in front of me which just showed how popular the event was. There was music blaring and as the mass warm up started it got louder and almost everyone started jumping up and down whether they wanted to or not, the atmosphere just got to them. After the warm up there was a couple of interviews at the start line, Kell Brook the world champion boxer followed by Harry Gration the legendary News reporter. There was a short delay whilst they closed off the roads and then they set us off and the Yorkshire Half Marathon was under way.
As always there was the runners false start (when runners start running too soon and the runners in front of them haven't so there is an abrupt stop followed by a woohhoo) which always makes me chuckle. We did manage to get going the second time and as the roads widened I could start to get up to pace and weave my way through all the slower runners that had wrongly positioned themselves at the start (always happens too). There was great support roadside from hundreds if not thousands of people who came to cheer and clap the runners along and it really helped and was a big difference from the rain hit Liverpool half a couple of weeks ago. There didn't seem to be a gap in the crowds for at least a couple of miles and even then it was because of road junctions etc. This was also the first year with the new course and after last years water fiasco I think a lot of people had just come to see that things went OK this year.
After leaving the music of the start area behind you could hear the cheers from the crowd a lot more as you made your way towards what we all knew was coming. After the first mile the route then took an uphill direction, and for the next 4 miles as well, which was ok being from Yorkshire I'm use to it. However there was a strong wind on the day and it was only going to get stronger as we climbed the hill straight into it. This section was made a little easier by the fantastic people of Sheffield, everyone was waving their plastic batons, smashing them together or ringing cow bells. I was really taken aback by the music coming from shops, people's houses and the various groups on the street, there was at least two brass bands some bagpipers and a choir. They were all at different points on the climb so each of them had its own effect on me, helping me keep a positive attitude and keeping my pace up all the way to the top. At mile 4 there was a King of the Hill timed section over the next mile and it was also where the wind felt at its strongest. It was rather funny to watch all the runners strewn across the road start to tuck in behind each other to shelter from the wind hoping that they could draft off the person in front. If the race hadn't of been so large it could have quite easily been single file up that final climb. At the top was a water and jelly baby feed station and greatly appreciated too before the route took a left on to a much flatter part of the course. Mile 6 came quite quickly and so did the downhill it started steady at first past some photographers and then after a left turn the downhill got steeper and the wind was now behind me. I was able to try and gain back some of the time the uphill had stolen, I also saw a familiar face, I had managed to close up on my friend Steve and was gaining pretty quickly too. I think I should now tell you that prior to the race I had put out a post on Facebook asking for sponsors and I had a couple which was great, but then Steve said put him down for £10. I said thanks Steve that's great to which he replied and I'll double it if you beat me on the Yorkshire Half. Now he usually is faster than me by a couple of minutes so the chances of me beating him was slim, but Steve was struggling with an ankle injury so wasn't as fast as usual. So this was my only chance of actually finishing before him and as I came shoulder to shoulder with him I asked how he was doing, before sailing past him still increasing the speed. It was a good feeling even if he wasn't 100%, a less than 100% Steve is still a very fast Steve, so I kept my speed up and tried to focus to keep attention on the race and not Steve trying to keep up with me. At this point there was another timed section, this one was the final 10k section and just before it started there was another water station with more Jelly babies too great for that extra bit of energy. As I reached a little village on the way back down to the city centre the route levelled out for a bit and the crowds grew again helping me to keep pushing. I was also running with a guy who was trying to rev up the crowds by waving in a Mexican wave type of way, it worked and the crowds got louder as we came through, it was awesome, hair standing on end and things like that. It really made me feel a bit special until I turned a corner and was faced with a little uphill out of nowhere. It was only small but it took a lot out of me as I tried to keep my pace going at the same as I was on the downhill, silly I know but I'd just been pumped up by the crowds and felt full of adrenalin. Luckily it was only small and I was soon facing another downhill and flat section, before I rejoined the main road we had used to go up the first hill. The crowds were still there cheering every single person on, which was even neccessary at this point as the legs were starting to get heavy and I was finding it harder to keep my pace up. Even counting down the Km and Mile markers wasn't helping keep my mind focused, so the cheers and shouts of come on Matt meant so much. The downhill finished with about a mile and a half to go and it was now all down to grit and determination to finish strong, plus the crowds were thinning and there was even an empty part of the course as they were all gathering at the finish. I kept it together and pushed for the final mile with help from some excellent marshals cheering me on up a final hill before turning down towards to the finish and huge crowds 5/6 deep lining the final 100m sprint. I crossed the line in a time of 1hr34m10s and considering the hills and wind I was really pleased with the time, but I was more pleased with the fact that I finished just behind Kell Brook.
Next up is the Huddersfield Half Marathon this weekend and another set of brave and awesome parents from the school. The Huddersfield half/full marathon is one of if not the hardest road marathon in the UK so anyone who completes this race is worthy of a massive pat on the back and great praise. So no pressure, Lisa Parry, Emma Jagger, Andy Munro, Mike Makinson, Philip Thwaite and myself, let's just hope the winds aren't as strong as they were at the Yorkshire Half.
Good luck to everyone running the Huddersfield Half or Full Marathon this weekend
Keep running everyone
Saturday, 4 April 2015
A month or so back the guys at Team OA posted a photo on Facebook of someone's Strava Art (using the gps line of a run or bike ride to create a picture) of a Giraffe. Along with the picture they posted a challenge, if anyone could create a Strava Art bunny they would win entry to this years Chocathlon. They also challenged anyone to create the Team OA logo and if they could do that they would win lifetime entry to the Chocathlon. So what do you think I did a couple of days later......yep that's right...
And yes I won lifetime entry, LIFETIME, I can't help but keep saying it, LIFETIME, how cool is that? A big thank you to the guys at Team OA for such a cool prize, I hope that I'll be running/walking the Chocathlon for many years as it is such a cool idea and run. For those of you that are wondering what the hell is a Chocathlon it is a 9km run around the hills of Marsden with 2 chocolate stations along the way. Like your normal water stations but these have chocolate treats for you to eat, chocolate biscuits and water as well so that you can manage the hills and trails of Marsden. Well that was a month or so ago and this past Easter weekend I actually got to use my prize.
This Easter Saturday it was Huddersfield parkrun's 4th birthday and their carrot relay after the run, plus after that it was the Chocathlon. So right from the off I knew this day was going to be exhausting, even if I took it easy at parkrun. I was running with Dexter and Flynn this week, Flynn even got dressed up for the celebrations.
With the beautiful weather conditions we cruised to a 2015 PB for Dexter of 30.14mins then we hung around to take part in the carrot relay. The carrot relay is a race around the small loop (cafe part) of the parkrun course for teams of 3 people, which for #TeamPattison was SJ, Dexter and I. This year the was about 17 teams about double the number of teams from last year, which added a bit more competitiveness to the fun atmosphere. Everyone was eyeing up the competition but with great fun and friendliness that comes with any parkrun family. Dexter was running the first leg for #TeamPattison and on his own this year, followed by SJ and then myself on the final leg. Last year Dexter started crying because he was passed by too many people and thought he wouldn't win, but this year he understood that he would be passed and was determined to complete the lap without crying. This year unfortunately he cried again but this time it was because I distracted him cheering him on and he slipped in the mud and face planted on the floor, hurting his hand slightly in the process. I picked him up and carried him for a bit then he walked the final 100 metres until we handed the carrot off to SJ. She ran round with the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction, managing 3/4 of the way round before her trousers threatend to fall down, so she cut a corner and handed me the carrot before things got a bit x-rated! We were in second to last place and had no chance of gaining anything from this blantant bit of cheating and as I set off we had a huge gap to make up any way. I busted a gut to catch up but with no success as I finished just behind Team Brook still in second to last place. This wasn't a problem at all as like any parkrun event everyone was very supportive wherever you finished and we all clapped and cheered John Cottam as he crossed the line to finish the relay. Dexter was still a little upset at this point but a chocolate teacake from Simon Edwards at least silenced the cries and stopped the tears. Plus one of the guys from the winning team gave Dexter his Easter egg he got as part of his prize, which was really nice of him. So from here it was off to Grandmas for some breakfast and a rest before the Chocathlon and the Marsden hills.
As we arrived at the race HQ we were greeted by Simon Brass in his full bunny onesie and a big smile on his face, the boys really love Simon he makes them laugh so much, it's brilliant to see. Simon wasn't the only familiar face there, there was lots from parkrun or Stadium runners and other races too.
We were set off by Ally Young and a starting pistol, it always adds a little extra race feel when your set off by a proper starters pistol, maybe it's the hidden athlete in us or does it just scare the crap out of us. Either way we were heading down the canal and at a fairly quick pace, but it wasn't long before the earlier runs were taking their toll and my legs were already feeling a little heavy. By the time we arrived at chocolate station 1 I couldn't face any chocolate so I just took a drink of water especially as all I could see from there onwards was a huge hill. There was two stages to this hill which weaved it's way upwards like an S and as we were going at a full on pace I ended up walking about half way up. Not for long though as I dug deep and yelled at myself to get my arse moving, and I ran the rest of the hill that just got steeper as you went. Luckily there were some friends (Mr and Mrs Edwards) at the top cheering us on, taking photos and just keeping our spirits up even if it was early in the race.
It wasn't long before we realised we had finish in 3rd and 4th which was amazing but at the same time we started to wonder what had happend to Jonny Cartwright( last years reigning champion) who was leading the last time we saw him. He wasn't at the finish and no one knew where he was, it turned out that someone had turned round a sign on the course sending us in different directions. Jonny knew the route and went the right way, where as the rest of us went the the way the signs suggested which turned out to be a few hundred metres shorter. Still though Jonny didn't turn up until 8th place and about 10 mins behind us, so somewhere he had gone wrong too because of the signs. He ended up doing an extra mile and a bit on us some how, he seemed to be the only one that took that route. It was a shame as he would have won it again this year if everyone had all gone the right way, and someone hadn't messed with the signs on the course. We all had a great time anyway and there was lots of chocolate biscuits to eat at the finish too.
Here's a link to a short video of the start of the Chocathlon....
We hung around and cheered on a lot of the runners before we had to go and get ready for cousin Liam's 7th birthday party and probably more chocolate. All the chocolate did end up being a bit too much for Dexter and he threw up at Liam's party due to chocolate overload!!
It was a fantastic day and great fun and I can't wait to use my lifetime entry to the Chocathlon again next year. Thank you to Team OA for putting on another great event as always, the next one is the Huddersfield half/full marathon which is a beast and probably one of the toughest road marathons in the UK. You have to do it just to say you've done it, plus it is one of the most scenic runs around too.
Keep running everyone
Wednesday, 1 April 2015
The final couple of hundred metres were filled with the sound of the Tribal drums, BOOM, BOOM BOOM.... BOOM, BOOM BOOM, which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
This Sunday the 29th of March 2015 I took part in my first Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon, along with 5100 others who braved the rain to take on a PB friendly course.
I headed over the night before thanks to my wonderful little sister who lives in Liverpool not far from the start. She picked me up from home and we drove over arriving around 8pm, so we went straight out to get a take away, the perfect race supper yeah? Then on the way back we stopped off to get some Irn-Bru and creme eggs just to finish off the race prep. To be honest I felt rather sick by the end of it all but I was too excited about the race in the morning to care. Jessie and her boyfriend Matty were great hosts and after a couple of hours discussing running, triathlons and Iron man races we all went to bed. It was really strange being away from SJ and the boys and my body clock was still on alert in case of a crying Flynn so the early morning seagulls woke me a few times. Luckily I still got a good nights sleep and was up and ready by about 7.15am and eating breakfast by 7.30am.
We all headed down to the docks as I wasn't sure where I was going but it wasn't long before we started seeing other runners and It was fairly obvious which way to go and soon we could hear all the commotion. Arriving at the starting area we had a little walk round to see what was going on and where I would pick up my t-shirt, medal and goodie bag etc. Then I said goodbye to Jessie and Matty and got in my position on the start line, I was hoping to finish around 1hr30m so I weaved my way past all the 1hr40 runners and stood looking slightly cold and nervous just behind the 1hr30 mark. There was a slight delay in starting as the police hadn't closed off the roads in time but luckily we were only stood for a few minutes, then finally we were off.
The big rush and stop happend as it always does at big races as people think they are going and suddenly have to stop again as the people in front off them haven't moved as much as they had thought they were going to. It always makes me giggle a bit, we're off yeah, oh no were not and now I can see the hairs on the back of that mans neck I'm so close. We did eventually get going, scrambling across roads and curbs looking for the best position it wasn't until the end of the first mile that we all settled down to our rhythms. Now at this point you turn onto parliament street which according to the route guide goes from a slight incline over the first mile to a sharp incline for the next 400yds. So not being from Liverpool I was quite worried about this sharp incline but when we got to the infamous section I just giggled and powered up the hill and carried on. I giggled because being from Yorkshire the sharp incline was more like a slip way at the beach, it was nothing to worry about and It barely affected my pace time too. From this point on it was pretty much flat or slightly undulating apart from a dip and climb at the bottom of Princes park at the mile 3 marker. At this point you start to take on the more scenic part of the route taking in parts of Sefton Park and Otterspool Park before hitting the promenade at mile 9 and heading back towards Albert Docks. During this section there were some really good groups of spectators who braved the rain to come cheer everyone on, which was awesome and gave you a real boost. Plus the man who slipped on his bike in the mud near the promenade did give us a giggle (he was ok by the way just muddy).
Once on the promenade we all started getting excited about the finish and there was a lot of jostling for position and people adjusting their pace to achieve their target times, which I was one of. As we hit mile 10 I knew if I wanted to creep just under 1hr30 I would have to complete a sub 20 5k so I picked up the pace or more specifically I kept it going rather than slowing in the final 3 miles like I did at the Brass Monkey back in January. With the weather being dull and rainy it made the final 3 miles down the Mersey quite dull, but if the weather had been sunny it would have been spectacular. As we got closer to the Albert Docks the rain got heavier and it became harder to mentally keep it going and the mile 12 marker felt like it was in the wrong place as the last mile seemed like a mile and a half. Finally we got within range of the tribal drums again and the beat still had that adrenaline pumping effect and it felt like they were playing the beat inline with my pace and they pushed me over the line. Big kudos to the drummers and the crowds at the finish they were brilliant and were a huge part in my finishing time of 1hr30m38s. I didn't manage to squeeze under the 1hr30 bar but I was absolutely buzzing at the time and more at my pacing, I managed to stay at a 4m18s/km or a 6.55m/mile give or take a second or two all the way round. I kept moving down the finish funnel until I received my finishers medal, goodie bag and t-shirt and then I went to try and find SJ, Jessie, Matty and the boys who had all come to see me finish.
I eventually found them or more likely they found me and we made our way back to Jessie's place to warm up, dry off and grab a snack to eat before we had to make our way back over to Huddersfield so Dexter could go to a birthday party. We had a great time at Jessie's even if it was brief and It was a lovely flat too, and I'm sure we will be back again soon, hopefully in some better weather.
I really enjoyed the course and it is definitely a PB friendly and enjoyable course, unlike some out and back courses that can be very mentally fatiguing and dull. I hope I can come back next year and improve on my PB hopefully under 1hr30m. A big thank you to Jessie for having me over the weekend and Matty for listening to my ramblings about my running. Plus a big thank you to SJ and the boys for coming over in the rain to see me cross the line and to walk back to Jessie's in the rain.
Love you guys loads.
Keep running everyone.