Sunday, 24 June 2012

Making a point at the PLATT FIELDS 10K

 Over the last few years I've come to realise that leg strains occur not  so much due to  the training being done on the day that the pain comes so much as a result of the hard  training accomplished in the 3 or 4 days before.
 Things have generally been going pretty well since the SALE 5, the second of 5 races the Manchester Parks Grand Prix Series.  Perhaps too well. I hadn't race in the last 4 weeks and consequently I managed 3 weeks of sustained training with just the odd easy day per week.
 I was looking forward to better run at today's PLATT FIELDS 10K than last year particularly as the temperature would be far cooler.
 I finished last week with a pretty tough 2 lap trail circuit of the Strid Woods on the Saturday.   An undulating "up on the forefoot"  session which worked the calves well.  Sunday, trying to stay in touch with medium length runs I ran 12 on the canal.   Not overly swift but as usual a brisk second half.
"Coach" would have said, "you've had a tough weekend and you have a race next Sunday so do Monday and Tuesday at very easy pace,  a few 300s on Wednesday then ease down.
 I did  have an easy Monday running wise but was stood up all day at the shop; but  I attacked the 2 resrun too hard on the Tuesday , probably 4 minutes too hardt and as a result warming up for the 300s on the Wednesday the left calf (again) said...."If you put me through this, the moderate pain you are experiencing now will become acute and you will really suffer!!"  Session aborted. Very frustrating!  So....
 Thursday...........jog 2 .....not too clever.
 Friday............nothing......missed first day this year!
 Saturday...........jog 3.......not 100%...............but could probably manage the 10K distance.

Given the rain hitting the North West over the last few days I figured large parts of the PLATT FIELDS 10K  course would be under water and given the  vulnerable leg I went to bed on Saturday having decided to give it at a miss.  
 But with the weather forecast reasonable and given that I would probably cover 5 or 6 in training anyway I changed my mind and decided  to journey over the Pennines after all.
 Having committed to the 5 races in the Grand Prix I knew I would be disappointed not to complete them all;  I would not race 100% but if I could finish I would at least gain a point in towards my grand prix total.
 I warmed up with friend Brian Bradshaw from Sale and our fears that the trail section of the course would be under water were quickly realised.  Unfortunately so were several sections of the tarmaced park paths as well.   I  started to think that all things considered a time about 50 minutes would be satisfactory compared to 44.17 last year.  

 We hit the first stretch of water after just 2 minutes.  I was running alongside Brian but whilst I splashed through trying not to lift the knees and aggravate the hamstrings he pranced  through with high knee lift and immediately opened up a gap of 20 metres.  I felt the odd tweak in the lower calf but I was coping and at least managing sub 8 minute mileing  but Brian was maintaining the gap in front. (see pic above)
 On the garmin the miles reflected the "interval" nature of our efforts; working reasonably well on the dry parts, slowing down through the water.  7.27....7.55.....7.54.....7.49....7.26.
 I overtook a few on the 3rd of the 4 laps but at the five mile point decided to throw caution to the wind as they say ,  quite quickly closing  Brian down and  made a young Manchester Frontrunner the next target.
  As we splashed along the trail for the last time I was  singing the 3 Dog Night song, MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME! as I passed the marshal and slipped past my young rival who to his credit responded immediately by repassing me.  But he couldn't maintain his  charge around the lake as I prevailed, covering the 6th mile in 7.09 for a final time on my watch of 47.59.  At least I'd done one mile near to race pace.
 So to conclude  on the plus side, a good solid effort , a point gained towards my Grand Prix total and still a chance of completing all 5 races.
                        On the negative side..............tell you after tomorrow's test jog!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


  A lovely lady came into the shop yesterday representing a new club situated between Settle and  Lancaster.  VALERIE HARROLD of BENTHAM BEAGLES Running Club had entry forms for the club's  10K which will be held for the first time on Sunday 22 July.
  She expressed concern that they had only received 6 entries at the moment and the race would incur a heavy loss but we tried to assure her that no doubt there will be a significant flow of entries between now and the July date and of course many will enter on the day.
  Her concerns reminded me of  the risks involved in putting on a race today with increasing expenditure but still it was good to hear of  a young club being keen to put back into the sport by hosting an event themselves.  Check out more details at
  Hopefully the race will not upset local motorists as Ilkley Round Table's 10K did. In hindsight perhaps going metric and changing the course was a bad idea.  The two lap 8 miler  we started off with was clearly a safer course which  was less likely to hold up Sunday morning drivers.
  It was  the challenge  several hundred local runners faced this date  25 years ago.....

  There are no doubt several people reading this blog right now who are as fitter and faster than 99% of the population but are reluctant to return to racing because of the weight and pressure of expectation.  
 Previous success leads others to expect that high achievement will continue. But after injury or a period off racing through other aspects of life,  the fear of not reaching former levels is sadly enough to put many off racing altogether.
 I was always extremely  nervous for this race in my home town,    much the same as I was when competing in the school sports from the age of 14.   Having represented Lancashire etc.  I was expected to win 2 or 3 events at the school sports but particularly trying to win over 880 yards (800 mts) was never a certainty when 400 runners of similar county standard moved up. But  as house captain I had to turn out for the points.
 Having won a couple of marathons, half marathons etc the weight of expectations was similarly great for this local race.  But 2 laps of 4 miles with a steep ascent and descent was another challenge altogether!  I recall the day also being extremely stressful as I had had a hand in the organisation with the Round Table and then there would be the task of holding off Ilkley Harriers
new "star" runner, a 23 year old JAMES PARKER who was rapidly making a name for himself.
 But as usual once the adrenalin kicks in and the focus is on the race itself things go pretty well.
At 38 I was alongside  many fast young guns on the start line but  managed 8th place by the end of the tough event.  It was excellent day for VALLEY STRIDERS with 4 of us in the first 11.
The race was won by CHRIS PROCTOR of then KEIGHLEY ROADRUNNERS in 41:13
followed by  MARTIN HOPSON  (VALLEY STRIDERS)  42:07  and a young MARTIN ROSCOE (Leeds University) who is now one of the country's best vets in his age group. 
My old friend HILARY McEWAN was 4th.
  JAMES PARKER  edged me out by 12 seconds for first local in 6th place  to my 8th. 43:08 to 43:20.  He went to enjoy much success on the fells particularly before turning to biking and rowing.
 First lady in the race was fellow Valley Strider JO FRICKER who now works in the FASTRAX part of my business ensuring there is a steady flow of vests, t-shirts, hoodies etc to our clubs in G.B. and the Republic Of Ireland.
 This was the first of 3 consecutive weeks of local races.  Could she manage a hat trick of wins?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


A real Sunday feeling to this Tuesday's trek along the normally quiet back lanes of the town towards Bolton Abbey. It seemed so many people chose to celebrate their jubilee holiday by digging out their old bikes and
giving it their all alongside the usual "professionals". Not the most relaxing of runs!
 So another morning with hundreds of bikers and just 2 runners. Well, 3 including me.  A contrast to yesterday when 219 turned out to run the 5th Annual ILKLEY TRAIL RACE.
 The race is one of many events which have evolved from road races.  Originally muted by the local Round Table as a fun run,  it became a "legal"  8 mile, 2 lap road race......went metric as a 10K road but as the Round Table bowed out under the weight of complaints from motorists was adopted by ILKLEY HARRIERS.   After early course problems the route devised in conjunction with race director Lawrence Basham seems to work and is challenging but runnable unlike races on the other side of the valley which are more geared to the dedicated fell runner.
 For once we were blessed with pretty good weather but I must confess I abandoned filming at the uppermost point where it was becoming distinctly chilly!
 They say if it isn't broke don't mend it.......well I changed a filming routine which lead to editing into 2 parts.................

Sunday, 3 June 2012

ILKLEY MOOR RUN 1987... a gruelling run?

It was shades of the Manchester marathon conditions today with a low temperature of just 6 degrees, steady rain and  a blustery cooling easterly wind .  Tempting to settle for a short run in such conditions but having driven over the hill to battle up and back on the canal,  I stuck to plan,  persevering to bring week 20 to a close with a moderately paced 11 miler.  Compensation being that the dreadful weather put off the bikers who normally wizz past on the towpath with undue care and much abandon.  Just 4 seen all morning!
 No track session this week but a good solid week's training  after last Sunday's 5 mile race.  Particularly pleasing being one of the fastest circuits of the res in a long time; probably because I had company for the first 3 miles which meant I started faster than normal!  44 miles on the week.  912 on the year and the average over 41. No days missed this year; so have to be pleased with the consistency which I hope will lead to some good race performances  over the next few months.

                                TIM      JOHN       HILARY   BEN      TERRY           CHRIS
                             AGAR CONVERY McEWAN  GRANT LONERGAN LEGGATT

 Tomorrow's it's time for the annual ILKLEY TRAIL RACE which covers a route on the north side of town.  This weekend 25 years ago the ILKLEY MOOR RUN took place.  It was the 5th event in the Leeds Grand Prix of that year,1987.  A series in which I continued to place second fiddle to my young rival, JOHN CONVERY , who had maintained his position on top of the leader board with a string of wins, whilst I had tried to stay in touch at least with a second and a couple of 4th places.
 This day would be a slightly different challenge.  Not a shortish road race as the previous events had been.
The local paper the WHARFE VALLEY TIMES described it as a "gruelling 13.5 mile run over the top of Ilkley Moor.  In truth I would suggest there was not a lot of climbing in the run compared to the 700 feet which runners will face tomorrow; but a good challenge nevertheless.
 304 completed the race which started and finished in Guiseley.  JOHN CONVERY would maintain his position as Grand Prix leader but had to content with second in the race.  He was beaten by Harrogate's BEN GRANT.  Ben  Grant is nearly 64 now but is still racing and still capable of a 5K just under 20 minutes!  He has enjoyed an excellent career with success on and off road as he showed this day 25 years ago beating John by over 5 minutes.
  In 6th place was CHRIS LEGGATT, a Sale Harrier teammate in the '60s who  was then a Valley Striders teammate.  Pictured here crossing Ilkley Moor with me two places back.
I  ran an isolated 7th  (2ND Grand Prix entrant) with  KEVIN O'HARA 9TH  and my now departed friend HILARY McEWAN  10TH.
  LINDA LORD (Clayton)  was first lady followed by local Skyrac ladies, CATH RILEY and ALICE GULL.

                 1.  BEN GRANT                  HARROGATE              83.35
                 2.  JOHN CONVERY          VALLEY STRIDERS   88.39
                 3.  M. HOLLIDAY               LEEDS CITY                90.05
                 4.  M. FALGATE                  PUDSEY                      91.17
                 6.  CHRIS LEGGATT           VALLEY STRIDERS   92.22
                 7.  TERRY LONERGAN       VALLEY STRIDERS  93.28
                 9.  KEVIN O'HARA              UNATTACHED          94.38
                10. HILARY MC EWAN        VALLEY STRIDERS  95.04

A  fortnight later many of us gathered  again for the event which preceded tomorrow's trail race, the Ilkley 8 mile road race.  Another race in which the white and black of Valley Striders would feature to the fore.