Friday, 10 June 2016

Updating, sulking but on the way back

It been a while since my last proper blog and in that time a lot has happened, almost too much to catch up on, which has contributed to the lack of blog. How can I fit everything in a blog without it being a 10000 word essay that just goes on and on and not getting to a point. So I have decided that to quickly catch you up I'm just going to use bullet points and if you would like a bit more detail just ask and then I can get on to what brought me back to my blog.

So since my last blog I have

Held a very successful Windmill 6 and raised £550 for my son's School
Won the competition that my wife and I entered to win a trip to the Kangaroo marathon in Austrailia
Completed the world half marathon in Cardiff in 1hr30m23s which is a 3s PB
Finished the Wakefield 10k in 39.26m plus SJ ran it too as her first 10k and smashed it (very proud)
Had an amazing trip with the boys and SJ to Alton towers (the boys first visit)
Started and held the first School mob run at junior parkrun (It went well)
Been asked to help organise the Poppy Dash 5k which will be rememberence Sunday
Become an Event Adjudicator for UK athletics
I'm now also a Grade 2 registered course measurer (Measured my local parkrun for fun and practice)
Applied to be on Ninja Warrior UK 3
Witnessed a few of my running group runners complete races they wouldn't have even thought about and done amazingly well too (really proud)
I have taken the next step in becoming a running coach
Most recently I have also got a job albeit a temporary one, but who knows what will happen.

And now to why I have be away until now......

I have done all of the above while being injured, I have been struggling with a knee injury that I think started at the Huddersfield 10k. What brought it to the surface or tipped it over the edge was the 21 mile buggy run I did in prep for the Manchester marathon. I had to think of the long term effect and drop out of the marathon because of it but from the bad stories I heard about it this year and the incorrect distance of the past few years I may have made a good decision. If it sorts itself out I may give it a go in the future but not for now, I will have to find another flat marathon to attempt my good for age time.

So once I had decided to listen to my injury I dropped down from running 7 days a week to just 2, parkrun and my beginners group, which was ok for a while but it wasn't helping. I then did what I should have done a while back and listened to my body and my wife and went to see my GP, who suggested complete rest for a while. It was the best thing to do but as any runner will agree injuries suck, I sat and sulked, imagined, and wished I could be out there as friends and others ran all the races I was suppose to run or wished I could run (London marathon for example). I also ate like I was running and as a result I have put on a stone and lost some fitness. I did nothing for 3 weeks (GP said a month, sorry Neil) then I ran at Preston parkrun on my return. It was a lovely parkrun but it was really hard and even though I took it easy on my first run back I don't think I had much more to give. I was 4 minutes off my usual pace which was a little disheartening but it was a target, a challenge, a goal to aim for on my comeback. A couple of weeks later and it still wasn't right but I tried a longer run to see if I could attempt the School run (2nd race in the SHTAR (South Huudersfield Trail and Road) series) and after 5 miles, a few stops and some burning lungs I stopped and realised I needed a new approach. Luckily it come in an unexpected but very much appreciated form of Mr Simon Courtney (fellow Stadium runner and personal trainer) who gave me some body weight exercises and foam roller exercises to do. He said that my injury is mainly due to a tight IT band which is pulling at the ligaments and muscles around my knee.

So this past Saturday I ran parkrun and ran it at pace and to my surprise I managed it without too much pain and that was from just one session with Simon. I wasn't completely fixed but I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, I just needed to regain my fitness. So it was on to the School Run and it wasn't for me no it was for SJ, when I said I couldn't do it she said well maybe I should. I was ever so proud of her, she even ran parkrun with the boys before hand as well. She finished parkrun and an hour later was running up some silly hills around Digley reservoir, I couldn't have been more proud of her.

Yesterday (Thursday) I went for my first run other than parkrun for a while and a run with Steve which also was a first for a while. We went for a 5 mile run up hills and on trail and my knee felt really good, I went round about 95% pain free with only the odd twinge so I arrived back home with renewed optimism about the road back to fitness. The 5 mile run was still hard but on a hot and humid night and on the terrain we ran it was a huge step in the right direction. So a big thank you to Simon for taking it upon himself to set me on the road to recovery.

The time has now come for me to get back running properly and that also means I can start to think about entering races again. My main thoughts though are the Shepley 10k which as you regular readers know is my race I organise, which this year should be amazing for so many reasons. Firstly this year will be it's 4th and biggest to date with my fellow Stadium runners making an appearance as its on the clubs championship calendar. Plus it's the 4th race on the SHTAR series which is turning out to be a better series than we thought it would be. As I have become a course measurer I might be able to get the Shepley 10k a UK athletics licenced event which means it will count towards the power of 10 leaderboards and should attract a lot more athletes. But the main reason I'm looking forward to this years Shepley 10k is because this year there will be so many of my friends at the event that I have met over the last 4 years and that was the main reason for starting the event. I wanted to put on the race to start with to run a route I enjoyed a lot with all of my friends and share the beautiful views and surrounding areas with them. The friends and friendships you make on your journey is what keep most people coming back to races and runs and has been a major part of my running this past 4 years. In that 4 years I've also set up various races or runs and met lots of new friends because of it and I hope that I will continue to make friends and create new events and races for people to come and run with me. 

Oh it's good to be back

Keep running everyone

Friday, 25 March 2016


In my last post I mentioned the #myrunningmate competition that the Kangaroo island marathon were holding with a couple of entries to the marathon and travel and accommodation up for grabs. Well we only went and won it!!!!!! OMG!!! SJ and I are truly amazed and so very humbled by the help, votes, shares, and general loveliness shown by our friends and total strangers towards us for this comp. We are so excited now and can't wait to find out the details etc. about the comp and share them with you.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

February update and a bit of March including Dewsbury 10k and theWindmill 6

February started where January left of with lots of running, well what did you expect and the start of another month or so of PB's yet again. At some point all the PB's will stop I'm sure but for now I'm just happy to keep pushing and getting better and faster.

Early February is Dewsbury 10k time and this year was my first attempt at it, with a flat out and back route it was popular for getting PB's, people compare it to the Leeds Abbey Dash. I hoped not as I was looking forward to it and to possibly getting that elusive sub 40 time, I had tried and failed at the Abbey Dash so this was my next opportunity. It was also on the Stadium Runners race calendar so I had to give it the best I could so I could pick up as many points as possible. I got a lift over there with Steve and on the drive over we discussed our tactics and Steve was happy to pace me to a sub 40 which I was happy with. If I could stick with Steve as long as possible I should be able to hit my target, so at the start line we made are way as close to the front as we dared and at 9am we were off. About 1km I passed Steve feeling great and just planned to stay in front of him as long as possible because I know Steve would hang behind and then just breeze past at the end. At the turn around I took a gel even though I felt ok still but knew I might need it in the closing minutes. By 8km Steve still hadn't passed me and I was still keeping my focus and posture to try and keep it that way. It was also at this point that the route turned a corner and we had a fairly strong head wind for the last mile. So normally when you want to push that little extra to get the best finish you can you can't because of the wind. I had to just dig deep and push even if I didn't get that little extra push at least I wasn't slowing down. As I got within 200m of the finish I put in a little extra for the sprint finish and to make sure I gave Steve a run for his money. I crossed the finish line and and turned around to congratulate Steve but he wasn't there, so I looked at my watch and to my amazement I had finished in 38.14mins. I had beaten my 10k PB by over 2 mins, I was gobsmacked but absolutely over the moon. Steve came across the line a few seconds later in 38.30 beating his PB too and he said he tried to stay with me but couldn't which made me smile as that was only the 2nd time I had beaten Steve at a race and I thought the first would be the only time that would happen. We hung around to cheer and meet up with all the other Stadium runners and it turned out to be a great day for PB's as at least 75% of us had beaten our PB's. Well done everyone....

The high of the Dewsbury 10k was still helping when It came to parkrun the following Saturday where is also took a few seconds off my 5k PB too as I crossed the line in 18.40m this running thing is highly addictive when you keep PBing. That same day I handed out some flyers for the South Hudderfield trail and road series with Jon as there was only a few weeks until  the first race, The Windmill 6 which was my race that was raising money for Shepley First School. There was a bumper crowd of nearly 600 at parkrun that day so we were hopeful of a few entries from our flyers. 

The next few weeks consisted of lots of emailing and posting on social media trying to sort out and drum up some more attention for the Windmill 6, although that didn't stop me running. I was still run streaking and was closing in on the 100 day mark at the end of February with the 100 day coming the Friday before the Windmill 6. Would I stop at 100, well anyone that knows me would quite quickly say no and they would be right. Especially as the following day is parkrun and then the Windmill 6 the day after that. Before all of that happened it was the last Sunday in February and that is Huddersfield 10k day, which for all of you with a good memory or if you've been running with the past couple of weeks you would have heard me rattle on about it. The Huddersfield 10k was my first official 10k now an amazing 3 years ago, with all the running I have done it seems longer ago than that. I had actually questioned whether or not I was going to enter it this year, but for sentimental reasons I did, and I the form I was in I was hoping for another PB albeit a course PB. There was no way I was doing it in 38 mins but I was going to aim for a 42 at least. The night before the race however I had gone out for a small school reunion and as these things do, it went on longer than I had planned and as usual I decided to run home too. I had already run nine miles that day and with the added seven running home (in none running shoes!)I had ruined my legs and made my feet quite sore. So race day my feet were in bits and my calves were very tight, but I pushed on not complaining too much as it was self-inflicted. I push as hard as my calves would let on the uphills and let myself go as fast as my feet would allow on the descents, but it took its toll and I couldn't force myself to finish strong. That being said I did cross the line in 42.37 which was a minute quicker than last year, but I knew I could have done so much better, a lot closer to 40mins based on how I felt and my performance on the day. Still it was a course PB so in the grand scale of things a great result and could have been so much worse given what I had done the day before.

February also saw me enter a competition for SJ and myself to win a trip to Australia to take part in the Kangaroo Island marathon. We had seen a Facebook friend enter and just thought why not give it a try and see what happens, so I posted a photo of me and SJ with the boys and posted it. The idea is that people vote on your photo and the photo with the most vote wins the competition, when we entered the leading 2 had about 800 and 720 votes so we felt like we had no chance. We started to share the post on Facebook and thanks to friend and family sharing it we quickly rose to about 420 votes which was amazing. Then suddenly overnight we had only 250 votes and the leading 2 had gone down to 200 which had put us in the lead, we weren't sure what was going on or whether this was for real or not. After a little investigation from SJ apparently the organisers had taken the votes off people because of people cheating and figuring out how to vote more than once, so they reset everyone votes to a certain date and then voting was open again but with a more strict voting system. So it was real we were in the lead and we had a chance of winning so we didn't let the opportunity slip away. We posted and share our link all over facebook with friends and family sharing it too, plus we added it to groups we are in and we soon were up to 600 votes and counting. There was a couple of American ladies in 2nd who were sticking with us in the votes but we had the slight advantage. It became clear that it was looking like it was going to be between us and the American ladies and after a bit of back and forth with local plugs we have started to pull away. We had our story in our local paper and they did in theirs too as well as being on their local radio station too, but we have still managed to stay ahead of them and as of today with 8 full days left in the comp we have 1281 votes to their 932. It's getting very tense yet exciting and I'm sure come next week we will be a nervous wreck. 

The Windmill 6 was an amazing success with over 90 people entering it and 73 running it on the day, we did have a slight panic as it snowed the couple of days before it and lightly the morning of the race, but luckily on the day the roads were clear and the sun came out making it, to quote a runner "the most picturesque race" he'd been in. Everyone had a great time and I got some great feedback from everyone. The only issue we did have was the windmill nursery and cafe got very grumpy about the runners wanting to use the toilets before the race. Complaining they weren't paying customers, even though I had asked permission beforehand and warned them they were coming and most of them will stop after for a coffee and or bacon butty. So there was a few annoyed runners but luckily not at me, and because the cafe were being silly a lot of the runners decided not to stick around because the cafe owners were very rude to them. It's a small cafe in the middle of nowhere so you would think they would take all the customers they could but because they were quite so rude they lost out on what could have been a really profitable morning for them. Oh well we had a successful run and we raised a good amount of money for the school. It was a great start to the series too and a few people have signed up to the series since and because of the Windmill 6. So on to the next one which is the School Run from Holme school and a trail run up and over the Digley reservoir, it should be a great race, you can find info on the series here.

That's it for now but I'm sure I'll do an update for the close of the comp.

Keep running everyone

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

January 2016 and what a start to the year PB's, interviews and new stuff

In my last blog I talked about trying to make sure I topped a great 2015 with an excellent 2016, well so far its mission accomplished. Last year I started with the goal of cracking a sub 20 at parkrun by the end of the year but did it within weeks of the year starting. Well the same happened this year too, my goal was to get a sub 19 by the end of the year but just as last year I did it within a couple of weeks. I put a lot of it down to the run streaking I have done for the past couple of years around this time of year but also a bit of it is down to new shoes.
The confidence and buzz a new pair of shoes gives you is great, going round corners is easier and in slightly damp condition you still push hard knowing that you're not going to slip in the slightest. This resulted in a parkrun PB of 18.47, which when I crossed the line and saw my time on my watch made me uncharacteristicly shout and yell really quite loudly and with such joy that it made my friend Steve get goose bumps, as he was really delighted for me.

The next day I then went to the first race of Team OA's 4 seasons 10k trail race to test out the new trail shoes. A few friends were doing the same race so I turned up and paid on the day (first time I've done that and it felt weird) and lined up on the front of the startline next to Tom Whitworth and his dad. Tom is a great runner and has just turned 15 so his dad was running with him so he could enter the race. Tom parkrun PB is a mid 18min so I knew if I kept with him I'd would know I was doing well. We stuck together all the way round and in the end we both left his dad behind on the final descent and Tom passed me with 200m to go and we crossed the line, get this, Tom 3rd and me 4th how amazing is that.... I was on cloud 9, finishing 4th was awesome and on such a muddy and hilly course I was even more amazed that I did it in 46 mins too.

During the following week I had a job interview, something that I haven't had for nearly 7 years and for a job I knew I could do but hadn't done anything like it before. The interview went well but there was a definite sense that they wanted someone with experience but at least I could come away with a bit of experience and happy that I put myself across to them properly and without saying something silly or getting too nervous to answer the questions properly. Now I know this blog is mainly about my running but I put this in because of all I have done over the past three and a half year has helped me in more than just in a race or run. For example being involved in parkrun and mainly Junior parkrun has helped me immensely in organisation speaking in front of people and believing in myself and what I can bring to others. Even if it's just how I appear to others that gives them the confidence to try something new or follow in my foot steps, it's how I've have gained a lot of my skills and knowledge. A week later and it was confirmed that I didn't get the job but I was ok with it as I had done something that I have done for a while and came out of it with a great self confidence and more experience.

They say when one door closes another one opens and a few day later that was proven true as I received an email about something I had expressed interest in back in December. I was chosen to be 1 of a 100 testers of a new running watch from Epson the new runsense SF-810. I have to review the watch through a regular Vlog that I will post on YouTube and on a Epson website too and if I do this up to March 20th I get to keep the watch and all free of charge. I'm so excited about this opportunity, I like new things and having the chance to test it out before many others is just so cool. It arrived a few days ago and I've been playing with it and checking out its feature everyday since, discovering which are cool and useful and which are just unnecessary. You can see my terrible attempt at my first Vlog by clicking here hopefully I will get better at them as this product test continues.

The watch boasts a 99% accurate heart rate monitor and a smart GPS feature which should reduce the loss of data from such things as tunnels and dense over hanging trees that play havoc with the signal on most running watches. So far I have had very few problems with the watch just setup issues, like understand and getting familiar with the buttons and what they do. The main setup issue has been adjusting the display setting, you can choose which type of measurement you want on your display i.e. heart rate, distance, lap time, and time. However when I added time to it, it wasn't time as in duration, no it was time as in clock time, this puzzled me as I looked up and down the list over and over again. If Time was a clock what on earth was duration time under, they can't possibly have forgotten to put a stop watch on a running watch, could they? Well as it turns out after SJ looking at the list, that it was classed as split time, which I thought would be something similar to lap time. SJ said it was a slightly old fashioned (apologies if that is a bit offensive or ageist)way of saying time/duration. Once you have your display set up the way you like it you have to save it and then, this is a silly bit but make sure you write the data to the watch otherwise it won't register it and revert back to the way it was before. 

On a normal day to day and run to run basis it has been brilliant, it's light which always helps, some watches can be quite heavy which you notice on a long run, so any extra weight you don't have to carry with you the better. The strap has lots of holes making sure you can get a great fit on you wrist and avoid any unwanted movement. On a run it's been really good and the GPS has so far been spot on give or take 5/10 metres at the Km splits. The smart GPS is supposed to learn your stride pattern so that if you go through a tunnel or lose signal briefly it can still work out your pace and location. I haven't needed it yet so can't comment whether or not it works but I'm sure I will need it at some point. However I have had some loss of heart rate data where it thinks I have a heart rate of 100 for a good couple of km's, now I don't know if it is because I'm wearing the watch too tight or too loose or if it was too cold for it but something wasn't quite right. I will keep an eye on that and see if it sorts itself out or not.

The battery life on the watch is really good, it boasts 30hrs of GPS tracking but I thought I would just see how long the watch lasts if I just use it like a watch. So I wore it all the time, like a normal watch and then on my runs too, to see how long it would last before it needed charging and I was pleasantly surprised. It lasted four full days and four 10k runs before I put it on charge overnight which means you could use like a watch and wear it all the time just charge it every few days whilst you sleep. It also has a power save mode which is cool, when I took it off to get in the shower/bath or to do the washing up and put it on the side, after a couple of minutes it turned itself off. Then when I pick it back up to put back on it recognises that and turns back on, saving on your battery life again. so far I'm very impressed with the watch, let's just hope it continues that way as the test progresses.

There has also been other great things happening in January like, my running group on a Wednesday has grown to around 12/13 people and nearly 30 since I started back in May and even Dexter has started to join me on a Wednesday which makes me ever so proud of him. It's great to see lots of new faces join me for my beginner runners group and so far they have all done amazingly well. January has also seen another interview for something I'm very familiar with but as yet I don't know the outcome so I won't go into too much detail other than to say if I get it I will be so proud and excited. Clark has achieved and received his 10 t-shirt and even smashed his junior parkrun and Saturday parkrun PB's, he is turning into a brilliant little runner.
SJ has set her sights on completing her first 10k by June and I've signed her up to take part in the Wakefield Hospice 10k in April. It's amazing that she has decided to do it and it makes me so proud of her, plus she is doing really well at Judo too, she's well on her way to get a green belt soon.

In December last year I was approached by a friend at parkrun to see if I could come into the school he works at to do a talk about junior parkrun as the have a small running club and would like bring them to junior parkrun and maybe attract a few more to their running club. Well yesterday we finally found a time to suit us both and I went down to stand in front of 200 kids and talk to them about junior parkrun and parkrun in general. I gave them the run down on what happens on a Sunday and a few stats about parkrun then I asked them if they had any questions. Immediately there were loads of hands from enthusiastic kids which was great to see and I did my best to answer them all. There was questions like "do we get a trophy?" and "do we have to run with our parents?" so I think they all got what I had been saying and when they were asked who wanted to try it almost all of them put their hands up which was amazing. It wasn't until after the assembly that I had anytime time to breathe and reflect on what I had just done. I would not have been able to do that three years ago without feeling terrified and really nervous and probably done anything to get out of doing it. Another thing that I feel I have parkrun to thank for as it has given me a whole new level of confidence when it comes to talk to people and talking in front of large group of people all with their eyes firmly focused on me. 

So January has been an awesome month so far and lets hope that the rest of the year continues in the same way.

Keep running everyone