Last week I took part in my first track race in almost fifteen years.
It was exciting stuff. Twelve and a half laps (5,000m) of the Dorothy Hyman Stadium in Barnsley, as part of Barnsley Athletic Club’s winter track series.
I’ve always thought track was for the kids and the professionals. But at the age of 36, I decided what the hell, I’ll have a bash anyway. Deep down I had the hope that I might, just might, break 20 minutes for 5km. It was flat. Surely, I could smash my PB.
After a break for the festivities it’s about time that we got back into our normal training routine. I didn’t think it would be such a shock to the system!
For the past four weeks, we’ve been enjoying social running. We’ve done a few long runs with friends, but apart from parkrun on New Year’s Day, we’ve not done anything requiring any sort of pace. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been so nice to run in daylight, off-road and at an easy pace.
For us, the Christmas festivities started in mid-December, then we had our engagement celebrations, so we’ve had about four weeks of eating too much and not training properly.
The first session back is always a killer, which is why we opted for a tempo run to ease back into things. I didn’t think I’d struggle as much as I did. In the four weeks since my last session, I seem to have forgotten how to train. I didn’t eat properly before the session. I didn’t drink enough before, or during (didn’t even remember to take a drink!). My legs struggled to work. I felt ill. I had stomach cramps. I couldn’t get going. My times were even worse. I was practically jogging, but it felt such hard work.
By the end of the session I felt truly dreadful. We had our post-run recovery drinks and a couple of Jaffa Cakes, which made me feel slightly better. On a positive, at least I completed the full session.
There is a lot of work to be done. I’ve got so many running ambitions for this year, but it’s going to take a lot of training and effort. It wasn’t particularly pleasant, but I’ve made a start. The hardest thing was getting back out there.
What better way to start the new year than a double parkrun. We were on the start line to run at Pontefract at 9am, followed by Nostell Priory at 10.30.
My plan was to blast Pontefract in an attempt to get a personal best. Then I could ease off and enjoy Nostell. After the excess food and drink that we’ve consumed over Christmas, I was certainly well fuelled, although quite possibly, a few pounds heavier.
I set off like a rocket, blasting down the racecourse at 6.14 pace. Fiona and Chris had agreed to pace me, but it took them a good half mile to catch up. When they did, I was already blowing.
The pace slowed. The 6.14 became 6.30.
If only I could have kept up that pace, I’d be well on my way to achieving my ambition of breaking 40 minutes for 10k. Unfortunately, with chips and Prosecco as my main energy source, it was never going to happen.
Due to the icy conditions it wasn’t possible to run the usual route. Instead we ran out and back on the racecourse. It was muddy in places, with a few puddles and small hills. For a road runner like me, it was far too much like a cross country race.
I tucked in behind Fiona, and went for it. Although my pace slowed, I knew I was still on for a Personal Best. We ran in a line: Chris, Fiona and me, huffing and puffing at the back.
As we approached the finish, Fiona started shouting at me to catch Chris. The elbows came out, and although we have just got engaged, I pushed him out the way and ran for it. I was pleased with my time – 20:36, a PB by 16 seconds.
After a quick warm down, we headed to Nostell for parkrun number two. I was shivering when we arrived. I always get ridiculously cold after a race, and even though I had a jumper, fleece, jacket and hat, I was still cold. My legs had also ceased up. I felt better after a mile warm-up. Then it was back on the start line and off.
I eased into it, and soon started to enjoy it. The slower pace (6.50) made such a difference. I finished in 21.36, exactly a minute slower than Pontefract. If you added my times together, I completed 10k in 42:12. Given that it was the-morning-after-the-night-before, I was really pleased.
It was a great morning and a fantastic start to 2016. The atmosphere at Nostell is always amazing. It was good to see so many friends from Kingstone (my club), Barnsley Harriers and Barnsley AC.
We didn’t have time for a brew and cake as is the custom at Nostell. Thankfully, Fiona had packed mini rolls and a flask. We headed home talking of resuming training, possibly next week. We’ve been having far too much fun celebrating our engagement with friends and family. After completing the double we visited my parents for lunch and another celebratory bottle of champagne. A wonderful start to the new year.