Right Up My Strasse

After two weekends of cross-country racing, I was back on familiar turf today – well tarmac – for the Dewsbury 10K.  Flat tarmac is much more up my street.

There was nothing even vaguely rude on the finishers’ T-Shirt this year.  This was somewhat disappointing to me.  After the phallic emblem last year, I had hoped that they would double-down for maximum shock value; but alas it was just a simple black long sleeved job with a few adverts on it.

I’ve had a lazy week, due to tapering down for the race today and also to my attendance at a boozy black-tie dinner on Thursday evening.  Drinking copious amounts of alcohol and talking boll***s until 3 in the morning isn’t very conducive to run training.

I didn’t run the Valley Striders interval session on Tuesday evening,  instead I went to see Clem Burke and Bootleg Blondie at the Brudenell Social Club.  Once I got past the fact that one of the World’s greatest rock drummers was playing in his own tribute band, I just marvelled at being the presence of an absolute master.

I felt fresh and quite perky on the start line at Dewsbury.  When my mate Al asked me what I hoped for, I went with 37 minutes.  I actually hoped to go a bit quicker than that, say 36:45, but I like to sandbag a bit.

I got squeezed a few rows further back than I wanted to be at the start, meaning that I didn’t manage to run unhindered until about 1K into the race.  I didn’t look at the watch much, I just tried to find that sweetspot of moving well without tripping into the red.

I have raced Dewsbury on numerous occasions, I knew that the fourth and fifth kilometres were the toughest (though still only marginally up hill); but after the turnaround I can usually crank up the pace and come home faster than I went out.

I made halfway in 19:01, which was a little disappointing.  I chided myself and then picked it up for the run back.  I recognised a few of my usual rivals in the field and focused on picking them off.  The run back was into a blinding low sun, so it wasn’t easy to see what was up ahead, I stared at the tarmac 12 feet in front of me and powered on as best I could.

Dewsbury 2019 1

photo Matt Blakeley

I passed my club-mate Nobby at about 6K, he normally beats me easily these days, so either he was having a bad one or I was flying…it turned out to be the former.

I really enjoyed the gentle downhill of the second 5K and was moving steadily up through the field.  With just over 1K to go, I saw that Joseph Kwallah from Wetherby was just ahead – he’s a fellow MV50 runner whom I often finish close to at local races.  I was hurting, but I resolved to try to bridge across to him and to try to take him in the sprint.

I managed to catch Joseph in the shadow of the viaduct and then launched my finishing effort, just managing to maintain my advantage at the line.

I finished in 37:01 chip-time, 37:10 gun-time, so the second 5K took me 18 minutes flat.  I finished 5th out of 127 in my age category, 15 seconds off an age group podium position.

My prediction of 37 minutes made to Al at the start proved uncannily accurate.  I was satisfied rather than delighted.  I felt I nailed the second half, but perhaps I left a few seconds out there, due to being asleep at the start. My time was about 40 seconds slower than 2018.

Many of my Valley Striders team mates had great runs and there were lots of PB’s being celebrated in the chilly post-race de-brief.

It is back to bashing out mileage next week, hopefully completing the first 20 mile training run of the block next Sunday


LM -12 weeks

11 stone 4.0 lbs

22.2 miles, longest run 9.2

Parkrun : None

RunBritain Ranking 2.6 (unchanged)




Mind the Gap


After my wobbles over the last few weeks, I’ve felt better this week.

The knee and hip pain has eased off. I’m still aware of soreness after a run, but it doesn’t hurt much whilst I am actually running.

The deficit in mileage over the final month of the training period means I am not brimming with confidence about next Sunday, though I’m not too apprehensive either. I am fit enough to run well, hopefully sub three hours, but probably not to run a sub 2:55 PB time.

I ran steadily last week then ventured over to York for a blast around the flat parkrun with a few other Striders on Saturday morning. I was pleased with an even paced 18:12 for 13th place. I ran very hard, but not completely eyeballs out and I had to do an extended cool down run back to my car parked about half a mile from the finish because  I had left my barcode in it. That’ll learn me.

The Sunday one week before a marathon is a bit late for a proper long run, but I chanced a 12 mile run along the canal, with about 7 miles at 2:55 marathon pace, sandwiched between some steadier miles running with Liz.

As is the custom, the marathon paced miles felt rather hard, but not obscenely so, and in the main the heart rate stayed below 145 bpm.

My lowered expectations may work in my favour next Sunday. I am setting myself some ground rules for next Sunday. Assuming I arrive at the start healthy and fit, I want to run a conservative first 18 miles – with a target average pace of 6:40 – 6:45 per mile.

If I feel OK, I will try pick it up a little in the final 8 miles, hopefully overtaking a lot of runners and running a negative split.  However, my lack of long runs may well scupper those intentions, we’ll see.

My sore knees and hips mean that I will wear my Hoka Cliftons for the race, I’m sure they will thank me for the extra cushioning.

I haven’t run a London marathon this century, I am really looking forward to the experience. There are lots of teammates running and quite a few friends will be there in support.

Whisper it softly, but as I write, the weather forecast looks quite good:

London weather



LM-1 weeks

34.8 miles, longest run 12.1 miles

Parkrun – (York) 18:12 (13th)

Weight 11 St 0.8 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 968 beats per mile




25 amazing facts about running that will completely blow your mind…

…the title is just a little social experiment.  I wondered if a ludicrous Buzz-Feed style click-bait title would have any effect on my blog traffic.

Well you clicked, so I guess it worked with you…

The Trimpell 20 last week must have taken more out of me than I realised – I felt jaded all week.

It’s not surprising– running 77% of the marathon distance at sub PB race pace is a significant effort, and one would expect to take a week or two off completely after a marathon.

So I’ve had a low mileage week, not really what I had planned for. A month out from the target marathon should really be one of the biggest mileage weeks.  However, if your legs feel dead and there are pains in your knees and hips, there is no future in flogging the horse just for the sake of it.

After the clocks sprung forward on Sunday, a group of Striders met on a sharp but stunning morning up at the reservoirs, a runner’s heaven.

I hoped for a 21/22 mile run, but early into the run I knew it wasn’t feeling good.

I felt a niggling soreness in my left knee, although I could run on it with moderate discomfort, I saw no point in risking aggravating it and perhaps putting London in jeopardy.

I bimbled round for 14 miles and then jacked in after two of the planned three laps. I don’t think it is serious, but I am going to take a few days off running. I’ll try to do some cross training on the bike or rower.

As well as being a runner, I’m quite interested in the science of running and would like to progress into coaching in the future. I’m currently a volunteer coach for the first Young Tritons Running Club group in the country – a programme for boys leading up to a 5K run after 9 weeks.  It’s basically the boys version of the Mini Mermaids running club run by my friend Hannah Corne.

Our boys are boisterous and challenging, but it is great fun and I am certainly learning plenty about myself and how best to interact with children.

On Saturday, I completed the Leader in Running Fitness Course run by British Athletics, a starter/foundation course and hopefully I will build on this with more courses and more experience in the future.

Provided I recover during the week, I’ll do my last long run before London next Sunday at the reservoirs. I have two races during the taper period – the Vale of York 10 the following Sunday and the Salford 10K on Good Friday.


LM-4 weeks

44.7 miles, longest run 14.1 miles

Parkrun – none

Weight 11 St 3.2 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 1002 beats per mile


The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon 2016

Regular readers will know that running has been going well for me over the past few weeks, culminating in my 5K PB last Saturday at York parkrun.

This caused me to agonise about my pacing strategy for the marathon. I’d previously resolved to go out at 6:35 per mile, which would be a target of 2:52.36 and a halfway even split of 1:26.18.

However, I must have contracted a case of hubris because in the final couple of days I decided to go out in 6:30s, for a target of 2:50.25. This was certainly very ambitious and would represent a PB by over six minutes.

Marathon pacing is a fine art – a marathon is run primarily below the aerobic threshold (i.e. you don’t get out of breath much), but if you overcook it there is a risk that the legs will pack in before the end, and nobody wants to experience that feeling. The marathon is very much a race about self-control.

On an almost perfect day for marathon running, I travelled over to York with fellow Strider Tim. We used the park and ride at Elvington airfield which worked efficiently.

Tim and I lined up a few rows back from the front, wished each other well and then we were off.

There really isn’t a lot to say about the first few miles, I settled into my 6:30 target pace and basically just knocked the miles off.  The first mile was slightly downhill and I felt that loads of runners had gone off much too quickly.

I went through 5K in 20:15, 10k in 40:30, so I was nailing even pacing, steadily passing those that set off too quickly.

I joined a small group that was being tracked by a TV cameraman on a motorbike. I realised that he was filming the leading lady – Joasia Jakrzewski. I knew about Jo through my Comrades buddies Jock and James Love, she had finished in the top ten at Comrades in 2015 in 7 hours flat! and had a sub 2:40 marathon PB… I was indeed in elevated company.

pic John Rainsforthjo-yorks

I ran with Jo for a few miles, she looked to be going incredibly easily, but to be frank it was a bit irritating having a TV camera right in our faces. At least I experienced a little of what Mo Farah has to put up with!

At around 8 or 9 miles, Jo stepped on it – she must have run a couple of 6:10 miles or quicker because she soon dropped me. I kept on with my monotonous 6:30s, with the 3rd and 4th 5K sections run in 20:22 and 20:08. Another lady soon passed me, obviously intent on giving Jo a race.

Halfway was reached in 1:25.02, a tad quicker than level 6:30s.  I knew that I was a little bit fast, but all was feeling good, so I decided to press on and just HTFU…

I found myself running quite a lot of the second half in the company of the third lady, a lovely person called Michelle from Gateshead. She had won an ultra marathon only last Sunday and was running really strongly. In cycling parlance, she looked like a good wheel to follow.

The course was generally very pleasant to run on – predominantly on country lanes and often through shaded forest, though there was one slightly less enjoyable section.

Just after halfway, we turned left onto a wide A road towards Stamford Bridge, then doubled back at a turnaround point to run 5 miles back down the same A road, only to double back and run 2 miles back up the same road.  The crowds at the turn points were huge and I got a great lift from many cheers in this section from friends and teammates.

At the 18 mile turnaround point my spirits lifted when I heard a familar voice call my name and saw the beaming smile and bounding figure of great pal Hannah, who was doing a sterling job in leading the cheering. The next two miles back up the A road were tough – up a draggy incline, and into the breeze. For the first time, I knew that I was having to work hard.

I had passed Michelle a couple of miles earlier, but she caught me again on the drag and we ran together for a few miles. Again we were frequently buzzed by one of the TV camera motorbikes. I expect my ugly mug will appear on the TV highlights next week.

Despite a couple of slower miles on the drag (6:44 then 7:00) I still was just about holding it together, though I knew that I was in for a very tough last 6 miles.  I resolved to just try to follow Michelle for as long as possible, but my legs were getting heavy as I started paying it back for my earlier exuberance.

I was beginning to leak some time – the 7th and 8th 5K sections took 21:17 then 22:12. As it slipped away I felt a bit frustrated, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, my legs were basically shot. Teammate Jerry passed me in the last three miles, going very strongly. There was no way I could latch on to him.

With a mile to go I felt a sinister shot of pain down my left hamstring – the first pangs of a cramp. Shit, that’s all I need I thought.  I had a single salt tablet in my shorts pocket and hoping that it would be some kind of magic bullet I reached in a swallowed it. I slightly altered my gait to try to keep my left leg straighter and keep the insidious cramp at bay.

At mile 25, I was close to shuffling – a 7:40 26th mile tells that story.  I made my way up the 400m incline back onto the university campus then ran as best as I could to the line.

I finished in 2:55.08 and felt wobbly for a few minutes at the finish. Luckily, I just about managed to hold myself together.

My Strava record

My time is a 90 second personal best and I finished 54th overall and third in my age category.  The first two MV50s were miles in front of me in 2:41 and 2:47 so third is the best that I could have achieved.

Overall, I am happy with my run. It is mildly frustrating to lose over 2 minutes in the last three miles, however, I console myself in knowing that I really went for it, I challenged myself to see if I could run a low 2:50s marathon and for 23 miles I was absolutely bang on it. It simply leaves unfinished business to be dealt with at London next April.

Tim ran a superbly evenly paced race to nail his first sub three marathon in 2:59.14 – a brilliant run.

My other big news is that I am having a year off from Comrades next year.  I would love to run it every year, but lots of other big and exciting stuff happening next year means that I just cannot spare the requisite time off work. I will be back though.

Yorkshire marathon today!
39.9 miles, longest run 26.2 miles
Weight 10 st 12.4lb
parkrun (Stretford) 22:49, 123rd