Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hawick 10K

The Hawick 10k, organised by Teviotdale, is a two lapper centred around the banks of the River Teviot. It's not too far up the road from me but as I arrived I was scratching my head as to whether I had been in the town before. Maybe it was a long time ago.
This race came to my attention last year when Neil Renault beat Nick Swinburn by a second or so. and...? The time was a shade over 30 minutes. Now, I thought, given the right conditions that could be the course for me in the same way as the Kelso Two Bridges is an unlikely 5K that still turns out good times (as long as you follow the course...long story).
Steve Cairns won Hawick in 2008 and he was on the start line again today with the rest of us and the wind blowing through the trees. There was plenty of green and white Gala vests and a handful of others taking the field to around 70. It didn't seem to be a day for a fast time but that didn't put me off.
We started through the park and perhaps after a mile moved up off the flat and a steep little incline of 50 metres or so into a headwind along the side of a backroad. We turned soon after over the bridge when we got the benefit of a long gentle downhill and tailwind along the wide path on the A7 back into the town.
I was sitting around 15th in the first mile and moved past a few including Diane Lauder (Gala) who was first lady at the time. There was a Moorfoot coming back and two Galas just ahead and there looked like there could be a wee group forming. I felt reasonable coming back through the park but couldn't latch onto the little group which now included a Teviotdale and Lauder who had come past. She won the event last year in 35mins. I had gone through 4 miles in 24mins but couldn't find the extra horsepower to tuck in out of the wind and it was the little incline for the second time that did for me. I still worked hard on the way back but watched the group push on.
I was still hoping for a decent time as I came around the second and final time into the park and stopped the garmin on 38:02 for the run and 11th place. No tea and medals today then (actually there were medals for finishers). The times were down on last year so I can't be disapointed and its progress of sorts.
Cairns (HBT) won in 33mins from Hynd and Green with Lauder (37mins) winning the women's race from Scott and Knox. Excellent little course and on the right day, a real fast one:

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Crack 38

Its taken a little time but things are improving. I've set my sights on a good long testing race early in October. Life's hectic just now so I'm not sure whether I'll manage to start but I had a good solid 16 miles on Sunday, 8.5 steady fast yesterday in 58 mins in the rain and a 4x0.78mile short session today which was also in the rain. I had to contend with various refrigerated lorries (I gave them the cold shoulder), railway barriers and dog walkers having chosen a local industrial estate to do the intervals. It was supposed to be 1 mile each leg but evidently someone' s shortened the route. This happens frequently with the wrist computer - what was a 10 mile run turns out to be a mile shorter than everyone thought. Still, knocked out 4.30 to 4.34 mins. for the 4 of them so quite consistent. Just need to speed up a bit. I think the cycling over June slowed things on the running front. I'm looking to do Hawick on Sunday to see if I can crack 38 for the first time this year and its back into the gym this week.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Idle Trail Race 10K 2011

I've really got to stop this blogging lark.
I had planned to do a site visit in Bradford on Monday, but decided instead to drive down today and pick up the Idle Trail Race which was 5 minutes away from the site I was to visit. It also means I get tomorrow afternoon off.

It was cool and breezy with a heavy shower just before the start. Seeing the banner for 'Flaming Photography' and other folk wandering around with unfeasibly wide lenses and cameras that, whatever they were, couldn't be described as 'compact', I dispensed with my camera phone which was, in any case, a victim of yesterdays rain. We were mostly all huddled under trees with 3 minutes to go except for one or two who were out on the football field and clearly wanting to get on with it.

Around 240 set off for a lap around the pitch and then out along the road and down some stairs to the canal. I worked through a little group until I caught a Stainland Harrier and sat behind him for a couple of miles. The pace was fast enough for me and I wondered if I could keep it going. Surprisingly, he dropped back behind me at around 3 miles. There were no hills along the canal and I thought we were in for more of the same on the way back. I also thought that Stainland had run out of puff but after another half a mile or so he was back and passed me easily. We were hitting a few inclines now and halfway up one a marshall by one of the gates said ' you're 9th, you're 10th etc'. 'Tenth, eh? Not too bad' I thought.

That was the last positive thought I had as I looked down to see a set of wheels passing me. I recognised them. The wheels were mine. They'd well and truly fallen off. They were already packed up and heading off in the other direction. See you. I felt the svelte, highly tuned v12 racing machine turn into Mr Whippy's ice cream van. Even the cheery jingle began to sound like a broken down record player. It coughed, spluttered and then that was it.

I went from 9th to 13th over a mile or so and even then I was failing to do a good job of impersonating a runner. I kept on thinking about what witticism I might come up with or what I would blog about in this race rather than focusing on the soles of Pudsey Pacer as he came past. I hung on grimly up some cobbles, along the edge of a field and down a wide cobbled boulevard of trees and back onto the pitch at the end, desperate that Pudsey wasn't going to wrestle my 13th place off me. He didn't need to as it happens as he was 12th but I didn't know that. Getting back this afternoon, I find the results up already and I've been re-instated (or more likely my counting was as poor as my running). It wasn't pretty.

In retrospect I only lost 35 seconds over the last 2 miles, but that time could be better spent giving interviews, stopping for autographs and posing for photographs after the race.
Well done to the organisers and fantastic speed of publishing the results.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Back in black

I was well beaten today. Well beaten by the weather. With the rain coming down steadily from lunchtime it was around three this afternoon that I thought it might ease up so I grabbed the dog from her sleepy corner and saddled up for 6 miles through the woods. I couldn't find my Walshes so I borrowed the young 'uns black Salomons. Very snug and hardly used...but it began to bucket down as me and mutley made our way through the puddles which had formed along the track into the woods and after 5 minutes we were both soaked and sodden.

We passed a couple of women out with their dogs. They were stood, head down, pulling their black cagoules close around their faces. As I passed one looked up and shouted nervously 'we're mad..!'. As I passed I nodded and thought 'mad, yes; and alive'. This sort of extreme weather changes the usual routine, changes the ground and the landscape and it's quite exhilarating to run in.

As I ran along the ridge among the dense green woodland and ferns, much of the foliage was sagging against the onslaught from above and I had to duck in some places to avoid the thin wilting branches and dripping leaves. I tucked my cold, wet hands into my tracksuit sleeves as I ran. The dog looked up at me and gave me a 'you must be mental' look just as there was a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder almost immediately afterwards. Now, I like a challenge but I draw the line at dodging lightning strikes in the woods and it was sharpish back to the car with a princely total of a mile and a half in the running bank and a pile of wet laundry.
Strangely it was so wet the shoes remained clean as a whistle, but the dog says she's not my best friend any more. Its still raining.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Morpeth 10k Race 2011

A warm, humid night. Good turn out especially from the new kids on the block, the Tyne Bridge Harriers. Terrific runs by both the men's and the ladies winners (Hagos & Dix pictured). Tricky lighting for this late summer event and photos a bit of a mixed bag. Results at

Photos now on the Flickr Site. See what you think.