The best bit.

It was the Chevin Chase two years ago which was the subject of my first MarathonMann blog so it wouldn’t be right for me to miss it this year.

Both my wife Helen and I entered this year and we again had an amazing time. For the uninitialised, the Otley Chevin is a beautiful and high ridge north of Leeds, near the town of Otley and offers amazing views of the surrounding countryside. The race itself starts in the town of Guiseley and goes up and up on road, then out and back along the Chevin ridge before climbing to the summit and then descending back into town.

What you need to understand about the race is that it’s hard, No, really hard. First you have the almost endless uphill on road. Then you have rocky woodland paths, slippery rocks and mud followed by the impossibly steep climb to the top. Then, if you think the uphills are bad, watch your step on the downhill slippery muddy rocky bits where one false move may be your last.

And to be honest, that’s what makes it so attractive. But today, I didn’t really fancy putting myself through lots of pain and going all-out to do an amazing time so I ran within my comfort zone and ended up really enjoying it.

In the end though, I finished three seconds faster than my best ever last year and that feels good. Helen thought she hadn’t done at all well but did a massive three minutes of her best time.

So what’s the best bit? Well that’s adding a shot of brandy to the latte we make when we get home. Now that hits the spot!

“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”

‭‭Matt.‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬


The Chase is on!

The Leeds Abbey Dash is a fast 10K road race.  It’s not 100% flat but I guess a combination of the time of year and the fact that it’s a pretty straight out-and-back route means that it would be what is described as a “PB Course”.

This year since I am not what I would describe as “fully fit”, I didn’t have high hopes of beating any personal records this year.  However, I take 50 minutes as a kind of 10K benchmark and if I can get under that, I  think I am not doing too badly.   Therefore this was my goal for today.

In the starting pen I noticed the 50 minute pacer nearby.  He was wearing one of those big flags on his back so you can easily see the big number 50; how anyone can run at that sort of pace with that thing on their back escapes me but I have respect for all of the pacers in these big events.  I made sure I started at the same time as the pacer and my watch had also been programmed with the 8 minute-per-mile pace so I should know at all times how I was doing.

Before I wrote the blog today, I looked back at what I posted this time last year.  I commented that I found it difficult to get the pace on the way out but stormed through on the way back to get a good time.  It’s interesting because that pattern repeated itself today.  I managed to just keep up with the pacer for about 2 1/2 miles but then he started to pull away.  I noticed on my watch also that I wasn’t going fast enough.

When we turned the corner I noticed that that pacer was ahead but not completely out of reach.  I started to think that since I am quite good at the sprint finish I might be able to take him at the end and this kept me motivated.   Over time I found that I was gaining on him and it started to go through my mind that I actually might be able to catch him.  This motivated me more and with about 1/2 a mile to go I was able to overtake the 50 minute man!  It was then just a matter of trying to keep going for those last few hundred metres and since I had been working quite hard in the last half of the race, it wasn’t easy.  I managed to cross the line with just 20 seconds to spare.

So, now I am back to some kind of fitness I hope that I can get a chance to build on it.  After doing so well this time last year I set some ambitious goals for this year but for many reasons things didn’t go to plan.  I have therefore decided to carry on setting goals but try and be philosophical if things don’t go to plan and thankful for what I am able to do.

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.

Psalm 18:37 NIV (UK)

Here there be dragons!

A marathon might well be thought of as an advesary or beast which must be tamed or slain.  I had three attempts before I got my coveted sub 4 PB and before I acheived this I considered that I had “unfinished business” with the distance.  The Lord alone knows why I decided I wanted to tackle the beast again because It is wiley and has all sorts of cunning tricks up it’s sleeve.  Above all it is a foe which needs to be taken seriously; it doesn’t take prisoners!

When I entered the Yorkshire Marathon, I did so because I was confident that I had plenty of time to train up to get a PB time.  I think the reason that I entered in the first place was because my London Marathon time last year didn’t live up to expectations.  Of course, yet again all sorts of challenges disrupted my training program and I was, through optimistic lenses, almost just prepared.

So the carefully worked out plan involved a walking stint every 5 miles or so, with an aim to average 10 minute miles.  How hard could it be?  I had peaked my training in this vein up to 17 miles AND this was three weeks ago followed by a sensible taper.

The first half of the race was lovely, the pace felt quite easy and I felt I could run all day like that. I even forced myself to do the walk breaks to save something up for the rest of the race.  The problem were my legs; they had other ideas and decided that to “work to rule”.

It’s an interesting and yet frustrating quandary when your fitness wants to drive on hard but your limbs don’t want to carry on and are in pain.  I won’t give a blow by blow account but from about 16 miles onward I got slower and slower until the last two miles were not much faster than a brisk walk.

I’m not going to beat myself up though because 4:38 isn’t a bad Marathon time especially without a full training program.  As far as slaying the Marathon dragon, I think I’ll leave it to terrorise some other poor soul.   The prospect of settling down to do “ordinary” running again appeals, parkrun, 10Ks, trail races with an occasional half marathon.  I remember asking a friend after the race today “why did we just do that?”, to which there isn’t an obvious answer.

“The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬