Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Trafford 10k

21 February 2010 – I had a terrible night. I don’t know why, it was just one of those nights where you can’t get off to sleep. The next morning I was due to run the Trafford 10k, having been 1st M45 at the Alsager 5 two weeks previous, running faster than I had 5 years earlier when I was 1st M40, I was keen to see what I could do in a 10k. But, when my alarm went off, I felt rough as anything. I got out of bed all the same and went to the window, before me the road was covered in a thick layer of snow. We were renting in the countryside at the time, Hassall Green, there was no way the road would be clear by the time I needed to leave. I supposed the main roads would be clear but I knew the race was around country lanes too. Frankly I felt terrible and really didn’t feel like it, so I did something I rarely do, I decided to skip the race and go back to bed.

Later I heard the race had been rescheduled, due to the weather. The rescheduled event took place on 7 March. I’d had a good winter of training and a long period without injury so I was looking forward to my second bite at this particular cherry. Still new to Cheshire, having only been down since November 2009, I didn’t know many people and, being quite shy, I spent my time, before the race, relaxing with a book. It was a cool but sunny day, perfect for a race, and Chris Thompson, of European 10000m silver fame (though that was to come later in the year), took full advantage, setting a blistering pace from the start. His winning time of 28:02 was phenomenal and over 1 minute 30 seconds ahead of 2nd place, pretty impressive in this strength of field. In 6th place Andy Ward was also impressive, 1st M40 in 30:22. Gary Priestley, prior to him joining Salford Harriers, was in 16th, 31:46, just ahead of 1st Salford Harrier, Simon Bruton, 18th in 31:49 and two places further back was 1st M45, Roger Alsop, still a Herne Hill Harrier, in 32:19. I’d had a great run, I was flying and best of all it felt so easy. But I couldn’t hang around to bask in any glory or try to make friends with the locals, I was due back in Sandbach to have lunch with the Foster’s, an old school friend and his family.

Move on four years and the Trafford 10k is now firmly established in March. I haven’t been able to run it since 2010, enforced holidays and injuries seemed to get in the way, but I’ve been wanting to for a while. This year the enforced holiday was early and I was keen to have a road race to focus on so I entered, and, in retaliation for all the enforced holidays, I entered Carole as well. I was really looking forward to the race, sure I knew I wasn’t anywhere near the shape I was in in 2010 but I felt I was just about getting over my injuries and starting to train reasonably well. However, then the injury and illness struck again.

Unable to train with any real quality, over the last three weeks, I set myself a realistic goal of trying to run sub 36 minutes. Seems an easy target to beat but considering most of my recent training has been carried out no quicker than 7 minute mile pace, maybe not so easy. That was my realistic goal, but I actually fancied trying to break 35 minutes. To cap it all, just as my hamstring was improving, I pulled it again on Friday night. Just a slight pull but enough to feel a twinge every time I sneezed, yep still sneezing….

Sunday was a glorious day, Carole and I were basking in the sunshine at the start of the 10k. What a change not to wear anything under my singlet, no hat or gloves either, I even got my sunglasses out. We were told to listen for a whistle and 3-2-1, but in reality they might as well have used a dog whistle it was so ineffective. I barely heard it and I was only about five rows back, Carole much further back didn’t hear it at all and thought there had been a false start. Anyway we were off.

Standing around tightly packed is never a great way to start a race, but even worse with tight hamstrings and I felt a slight pull as we started off, I knew it would be ok once I got going but my slow start meant I was swamped in the first k. Frankly I wasn’t too bothered though, I knew I’d pull through as the race progressed.

There were some great results; Nick McCormick was a runaway winner, showing his intent from the start, creating a gap early on, his time of 28:56 was 27 seconds faster than 2nd place Ross Millington with Richard Weir just 10 seconds further back in 3rd. Very impressively proving that age doesn’t have to mean decline, Andy Ward was again 1st M40, two places higher than in 2010, 4th, with a time 44 seconds quicker than in 2010, 29:38. Salford Harriers were well supported in the race with 21 runners and the usual group of supporters. Our number one on the day was Joe Bailey in 5th place overall, with a time of 29:47. In 13th place was Carl Hardman, just a day after finishing 32nd in the Inter-Counties cross country champs, with a time of 30:41, with Josh Tighe 3rd man in 36th place, with a time of 31:57. Dave Lockett ran another great race, a week before the BMAF cross country champs, to take 1st M45, finishing 48th in a very impressive 32:48, just ahead of 3rd M40 Glyn Billington, who set another pb of 32:51. My mate, Rob Tudor, who refused to give me a lift to the race because I have been critical of his musical tastes, was also impressive to take 2nd M45 in 75th with a time of 33:35. We also had 2nd M55 with Phil Quibell and 1st M65 with Stan Curran.

Myself, I was far from impressive with a race position of 133rd and a time of 35:41 but I can’t get disappointed with that result, knowing what I know about how my body currently is, though I am disappointed that I’m unable to run properly without pain. Perhaps it’s time to take an enforced break to give my body time to fully repair, or, temptingly, try something else. I did feel disappointment during the race, not for myself, but when I caught and passed Ben Riddell during the last 2k. Ben’s a much younger and faster runner than me but he was jogging when I passed him, clearly something had gone wrong, I hope whatever it is will be fixed soon. As for Carole, in her first 10k for a number of years, she ran well, her chip time was under 57 minutes, which is not bad considering she only trains once or twice a week and the most she’s run in one go, over the last two years, is 5 miles. She was happy with that and I was happy the sun was shining, so off home we went to eat our mars bars and await the official results.

I knew I'd be slow so I picked this crafty disguise so nobody would recognise me - photo from Sid Sacks

Written by Roger Alsop

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