Monday, 1 July 2013

I’ve Not Lost That Winning Feeling

No blog last week, it’s been a busy time and when I wasn’t working or training I was painting and cleaning. A week of virtually no leisure time which left me drained by the end of the week. I wasn’t even intending doing a parkrun on Saturday but Carole persuaded me as she enjoys getting up early on a Saturday morning and getting physical.

But before we get into the parkrun, some good news. Following my last blog, where I voiced my opinion on the team medal situation at the BMAF 5k, it appears they have now retrospectively added club team medals. This means Salford Harriers have once again won medals in all male categories; gold in the M35-44, M45-54 and M55-64 and bronze in the M65-74. Most importantly, for me, it means I have become a National Champion again, and also means I’ve been part of a National Championship winning team with all my clubs; Salford, Herne Hill and Edinburgh AC, with the exception of Belgrave, where I only picked up National silver. This one’s particularly pleasing as I’d only been back running for a few weeks, after my injury, and I was still having concerns about my achilles when I ran the race. But I’ve come through ok and it’s time to move forward. Mind you it could be a while before I receive my medal.

This Saturday, I could be found lingering around the start area for the Delamere parkrun, this time with my insect repellent covering my legs. I felt buoyant and reasonably confident that I’d get under 18 minutes on the course, despite the tiredness. As we waited for the start I chatted with a couple of Vale Royal athletes, Graham Miles and Steve Caldwell and I could tell that Steve was one to watch out for, he was also intending to break 18 minutes. When we set off I managed to make a faster than normal start but was still unable to give it everything and once again got left in the dust of those able to start faster. That initial 400m is up, down and uneven and always proves painful on my dodgy ankle. Luckily I’ve learnt to cope with the pain but it does slow me down a little. As I watched the lead runners pull away from me I was thinking that I might stay away from Delamere for a while until I build up my ankle. I reached the relative flat of the Mere path in 3rd place but Steve had already made a determined effort at the front and was pulling away from second place. I settled into my pace and went past second and after Steve. There was nothing between us pace wise and the gap was proving difficult to close. As we got further into the race my strength started to come to the fore and I gradually reeled him in, then went past him to open up a small gap. But the race wasn’t over yet, Steve showed some reserve, he wasn’t going to just roll over and let an old man take his victory, he came back strong to catch me up again. Now it was a battle of minds! Since my comeback I’ve been running to get fit, this was the first time I’d actually been in a situation where I was competing for a win and it felt a bit alien. It would have been so easy to just give in and let Steve take the win, but that’s not what I preach, or practice. The easiest option is always to give in, but take the harder option and it’s a lot more satisfying. With that thought in my mind I focused on getting my first Delamere win. Raising my tempo a little was enough to create another gap but I sensed Steve wasn’t going to give in so I had to keep that tempo going all the way home. It was tough being back at the front and trying to set a pace that would see me stay there to the end, particularly as we went uphill, but I did it, another parkrun win at another venue. But the best thing about that run was that I now feel competitive again. Sure I’m still a little slow and I’d struggle to beat the best in my age group but I’m gradually getting fitter and I’ve got that desire to win again. I realise it’s too late to do much about getting my speed up for the summer so I’ve switched into strength training mode, ready for the cross country, oh dear that means Boggart Hole Clough!

It wasn’t just me in action this weekend, Ray and Sharon were also running, Ray pacing his son round, and Carole ran another consistent time around the course. Onto cycling, nothing to do with the Tour de France, one of my clients was taking part in a time-trial over 52 miles on Sunday. He’d been looking at 2 hours 30 minutes but ended up with 2 hours and 6 minutes. He’s been coming on well for some time but that shows we’ve been focusing on the right things in our sessions.

These past few weeks I’ve been working with a group of lads and lasses from the Round Table. They contacted me to do them a one off session and ideas for activities to help them prepare for their three peaks challenge. The session was successful and they booked me in for a regular once a week session, which recently became twice a week. They’re a great bunch, we have a good laugh and, naturally, I make them work hard. This week they’re off to do their challenge so I wish them luck. Over the weeks I’ve seen them all improve in fitness and strength but it’ll still be a tough challenge for them.

I’ve mentioned previously that I was contacted by a journalist with regards to older people running. The feature he’s written is in this month’s Runners World (UK edition - not sure if it’ll go global). I haven’t seen it yet but friends have told me it’s quite good. The one drawback being that somebody mixed up the pictures and I have the picture of a man in his 60’s attributed to me, whilst he gets to look quite good for his age, having my picture attributed to him. I’m sure it’s no big problem, people may be surprised when they meet me for the first time but mistakes happen and nobody died as a consequence. The magazine have apologised and are even sending me some new trainers to make up for it, so I’m looking forward to them arriving as my step up in mileage is wearing into my current crop of trainers.

Written by Roger Alsop

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