Monday 18 October 2010

Richmond Castle 10K

The day dawned clear and frosty with brilliant sunshine. A distinct nip in the air prompted many runners to don leg warming tights, rather than shorts. I'd driven into the market square early in order to secure a sunny parking spot adjacent to all that was going on, and where I could stay warm until the very last minute. For more freedom I'd opted to wear shorts.
Shortly before 11am the flow of traffic ceased, the square blocked by hoardes of runners and their supporters.A hooter sounded and the chattering heaving mass surged forward, gathering momentum down the ridiculously steep cobbled hill towards the river.We turned sharp right, off-road through a grassy section called 'The Batts' where we'd hopefully get our second wind before crossing the river and beginning the long uphill section towards Catterick Garrison.We rustled through fallen leaves with sunlight shafting through the trees onto a kaleidoscope of multi-coloured vests and gaudy T-shirts. "See on the polished stones it danced, like childhood laughing as it went" (Shelley) was an apt description of the River Swale flashing blue and white with diamond glints between its grassy banks.
As we began to climb, the early race banter faded away, turning instead to heavy breathing and rasping grunts. Some who'd sprinted off too fast were already reduced to a walk as the field began to spread out. We reached the high point around 4km where we could briefly enjoy the luxury of some level running to stabilize our breathing before the next inevitable undulations.
"I thought there must be some bloomin' downhill somewhere" I remarked to fellow runners on a short descent after the welcome water station, but there was another nasty little climb to the 8km marker where, again, many were reduced to walking. Those I spoke to were unanimously agreed that this course has a lot more uphill than downhill, or so it would seem, with an absolutely soul destroying 'coup de grace' over the last ¼ mile up steep cobbles to finish in the Castle grounds. A lady said "I'm a fell runner but in all my races I've never known a finish as hard as that".  I had to agree but, the more challenging the course, the greater our satisfaction in its completion, a fact borne out by hoardes of jubilant runners expressing their joy to all and sundry in the Finish area.  It was a truly wonderful atmosphere.
Based on recent performances I'd calculated that 52 minutes would be an achievable target to aim for, an average of 8.22 per mile. But how do you strike an average on a course with more ups and downs than a fiddler's elbow? A pace bracelet suggested by Westie in a Runner's Forum with my predicted mile times of 8.22, 16.44, 25.06 - and so on - would be fairly useless on any course other than flat (and even more useless at Richmond where I discovered the course was marked in kilometres!). So, what to do? The only solution for me was to plant the figure 52 into the recesses of my racing brain and run to the limits of my current ability. It seemed to work for I crossed the line with 17 seconds to spare in 51.43 - placing 232nd of 452 finishers. 
On a course with over 700ft of ascent I was happy with that - until I saw the results! It transpired that two inconsiderate and over zealous 70 year olds had sneaked home ahead of me and robbed me of a prize! Being officially recorded in the Results as 1st MV75 was little consolation given that I was the only MV75 which realistically meant I hadn't actually beaten anybody! But seriously, the MV70 winner, George Buckley, an unattached runner from Nottingham, is quite phenomenal though his time of 47.04 is some way behind that of the amazing Harold Dobson who finished 69th overall in 2007 to set an MV70 course record of 43.52. The 2nd placed MV70, Ian Barnes of Darlington Harriers had previously beaten me by 2mins 47secs at Kilburn, but I'd reduced that lead to 1min 20 secs in this race. I'm working on him!
So what now? Well, back to the bloomin' drawing board, of course, but not before I've given my old legs a jolly good talking to!
Full results here:

Wednesday 6 October 2010

September's running

To summarise, September was a good month running-wise although, largely due to a two week vacation in Switzerland, my actual mileage was only half that of the previous month, a mere 64 miles over nine days. But amongst it was some quality stuff, long altitude runs, fast miles, fartlek sessions, even faster 120m repeats and a hard half marathon at Great Langdale in the Lake District.
The weather was kind too, mainly dry with sunny days and not too cold. Only once, running at 6,000ft round the Daubensee in Switzerland, did I have to wear winter tights to protect my old legs. With lots of strenuous high level walking too in Switzerland I managed to shave off a bit of belly fat too and get back to my best racing weight of 9st 12 lbs.  My pulse, which generally hovers around 44bpm, was down to 38 at the last count which is a sign of reasonable fitness.
People sometimes ask "Do you take  any supplements?" and I have to reluctantly confess that I do, mainly for joint health and more specifically for my knees. One, which I've taken for many years and swear by, is a combined capsule containing 500mg Cod Liver oil and 500mg of Evening Primrose oil.  High strength Glucosamine is something else I've taken for a number of years although not convinced it does any good! Lastly, to control my cholesterol levels, my doctor insists I take statins which, I'm told, inhibit the production of Co-enzyme Q10, so I take a daily capsule of Co-enzyme Q10 to restore the status quo (though I'm not sure whether the latter is actually a supplement, or medication). So that's it. I reckon all other required vitamins, minerals and nutrients are there a-plenty in my varied fresh food diet. Well, that and the occasional glass of Shiraz for the stomach's sake!