Qualifying for the National Road Relays

WE did it! We only went and qualified for the National Road Relay Championships.

Barnsley AC ladies finished twelfth at the six stage Northern Road Relays in Blackpool, which means we get to do it all again today at the nationals. This is very exciting. But before we start thinking about competing against some of the best clubs in the country, I want to remember Blackpool, because it was a fantastic day, full of laughs, with great camaraderie.

I joined AC because I wanted to take part in the road relays, something Kingstone didn’t do, so I was delighted to make the ‘A’ team. Chris was in the men’s twelve stage race, so we decided to make a weekend of it. On Friday evening, once the dogs and horses were sorted in their foster care, we headed to Blackpool.

We’d booked a hotel on the edge of Stanley Park, but when we arrived it was in darkness. We turned into a long drive, with very low lighting, wondering where on earth we were. As I climbed out of the car, there was a noise, something rustling in the hedge next to us. I had a strange feeling that I was being watched.

I went to investigate Continue reading

Northern Road Relays 2017

UP until Wednesday I was all set to race 5km at today’s Northern Road Relays. Then, late on Wednesday afternoon, I got a text message.

‘Hi Liz, would you mind doing a long leg on Saturday pretty please.’

I was at university at the time, enjoying a cuppa and a flapjack with my friends. I glanced at the message. Something had obviously gone amiss with our team.

Immediately I replied, ‘No probs,’ and carried on chatting with my friends. In fact, I carried on chatting for a good few minutes before something dawned on me.

‘How long’s a long leg?’

‘What you on about?’ My Uni-writing friends stared at me, puzzled looks on their faces.

‘Running,’ I said. ‘I’ve just signed up to a long leg and I don’t know how long a long leg actually is!’

I tried to think. Continue reading

Running and racing so far in 2017

THIS week I start my next block of training. My target race is the Salford 10k on Good Friday where I am aiming to break 41 minutes and get near to my 40:31 personal best. But before I focus on my next goal I wanted to look back at what I achieved during my last block of training.

It started in December with the Percy Pud 10k. It was my first 10k in six months and I was a bit race rusty. I found the race tough. I ran 41:43, just squeezing into the medals with third vet 35. I was pleased with the time, considering I’d not raced for a while, and happy to be back racing. The other great thing about the Pud was that we were joined by Olympians Eilish McColgan and Michael Rimmer.

This is Eilish McColgan gliding into the finish.

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And this is me stomping towards the finish.

Later in December I managed to run sub 21 at Pontefract parkrun, something I’d not done for a while. I clocked 20:58. Unfortunately on Christmas day I could only manage 21:23. Rather than let this ruin my Christmas I decided my slowness could have been down to a slight hamstring niggle and a bit of a cold. A few festive drinks later and I’d forgotten all about it.

My first race of 2017 was the 5,000m track race at Dorothy Hyman stadium, where it was rather windy. I finished in 21:21.

A couple of weeks later, back at Pontefract I ran Continue reading

Wombwell five miles – race report

Wombwell five miles – race report

TWO hours before the Wombwell five-mile road race on Sunday and I was writing an essay that should have been handed in last Thursday. I was so focused on talking about Virginia Woolf and feminism that I forgot to get nervous for the race. I simply turned up and ran.

Until I was actually standing on the start line, my thoughts had been totally consumed by university deadlines and panic about how I’m falling behind with everything. But when one of the officials shouted ‘Go!’ my academic stresses vanished and the physical pain began.

I was determined to get off to a faster start than I usually do. The first lap of the go-karting track was great. I felt strong and confident, running alongside my new teammates from Barnsley Athletic Club. Once we were out on the roads, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay with them, so settled into my own pace.

Snake Lane hill was looming. Over the past few years, I’ve been really strong on the hills of Wombwell, but with a lack of hill training, I wondered if I’d even be able to get to the top. Thanks to a friend from Sheffield Running Club cheering me on, I managed to not only get to the top, but work quite hard and pass a few people too.

That said, I’m so pleased no one was at the top of the hills taking photographs, because it was not a pretty sight. It really hurt. I wondered what I was doing. Not only was it painful, but there was also the internal voice telling me that I should be at home writing four-thousand words on Virginia Woolf.

At the moment, studying and training are competing for my time. I want to do well at everything, but don’t really have the time. By trying to do everything, I’m not really excelling in running, studying or writing. In my running, I’m ticking along nicely, not getting any faster or slower, but holding a kind of middle ground. In my English Literature degree I already have my degree classification, but still need to finish the course. That means there have been a lot of last-minute panic deadlines. And in my MA in writing I need to have 40,000 words written for the third of May.

All these thoughts were whizzing around my head at the top of the Wombwell hills. I took a deep breath and tried to forget about all my worries. As I did this I moved to the right, heading for the other side of the road. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed the chap running behind me. Our legs got tangled and I tripped forward ‘Aaaaahhh!’ I didn’t fall, but I knew I had to focus.

Continue reading

Barnsley AC Winter Track 10,000m

Barnsley AC Winter Track 10,000m

Wednesday night was the final race in the Barnsley AC winter track series. So far, we’ve run 5,000m and 3,000m, but Wednesday was the big one, the 10,000m. I wasn’t looking forward to running 25 laps in the dark and cold, but I absolutely loved it.

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With the runners and officials

It was a fantastic race. On a few laps I was even smiling, not so much from running round in circles, but from the camaraderie. It was such a lovely atmosphere.

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On the start line

For the first few laps I led a group in the middle of the pack. When my pace slowed, someone else stepped in. We worked together. I was trying to keep focused, counting the number of laps we’d completed. I lost count at number six, or was it seven?

‘How many laps have we done?’ I asked the group.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ Mark said. ‘Just count the number of times we get lapped by the leader, and then deduct that from the board.’

This seemed a sensible approach, but when the leader whizzed past every couple of minutes, I soon lost count of that too.

Round and round we went, not really sure how many laps we’d done or how many were left. Round and round, until it was just me and my friend Jo. Jo got in front at around the half way point and, as always, she pushed the pace on. I tucked in behind, hoping that I’d manage to stay with her through the wilderness laps. I kept my eyes on Jo’s back, which is when I noticed two letters printed on the back of her shorts.

‘GB’ it said. And there was a little flag printed next to it. A red, white and blue flag.

‘Bloody hell! Have you run for GB?’

‘Yes,’ Jo shouted over her shoulder. ‘In duathlon. I do a lot of cycling.’

I was very impressed. ‘That’s fantastic!’

Imagine getting a GB vest, running for your country. How good would that be. And then I began to realise that I was competing against a professional, a GB professional, and that made me panic.

My internal thoughts started working in overdrive. You’re not good enough. You’re Continue reading

The Dewsbury 10k 2017 – the one that went on and on and on…

The Dewsbury 10k 2017 – the one that went on and on and on…

THIS morning I took part in what should have been the Dewsbury 10k. Given its name I really expected to run a 10k, but it was more like 10.2k.

Someone, somewhere had messed up the course measurements. Instead of the 10k we’d been looking forward to and training hard for, all 1200 runners had to run at least 200m extra. This may not sound a lot but when you are pacing for a 10k and every second counts, it’s really unfair to be made to run over distance. We weren’t happy.

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I suspected something was amiss when the turnaround cone was not in its usual place. I was forced to carry on running up the hill seeing parts of Dewsbury I’d never seen before.

My pace was 6.36 so I should have got a time of 40:55. I didn’t. With the extra distance, I crossed the line in 41:48. Boo to that!

My friend Sarah ran 6.24 pace so should have been under 40 minutes. She wasn’t.

My friend Fiona should have been sub 37. She wasn’t.

Do you get the idea? It was an absolute shambles.

It was so much Continue reading

A plan for the 3,000m Winter Track Race

AFTER getting a PB at last week’s parkrun I was hoping I might be able to get a 3,000m PB at the Barnsley AC Winter Track Race.

It was the second race in the series and conditions were much better than the very blustery weather we had for the 5,000m two weeks ago.

There was no traffic jam this time, but I still managed to get to the track with only half an hour to spare. Then there was the faffing. With two numbers to attach to my vest, things were rather fiddly and then I got chatting, which meant I only had about ten minutes to warm up.

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I was half way through the very brief warm up when Kerry, a friend and AC coach, jogged across to join me. ‘Do you have a plan?’ she asked.

‘A plan?’ I shook my head. ‘No. Do I need a plan?’

‘You need a plan.’

Kerry asked for my current PB and trotted off to consult her book of plans. She came back. ‘Your plan is to run 1.34 a lap.’

That sounded easy enough! And I felt Continue reading