Saturday, 10 May 2014

Salford Harriers Raising Their Game

I like a bit of history, it was my favourite subject at school and I’m enjoying watching the programmes looking back on the First World War, in this the 100th year since the start. During my 25 years as a runner I’ve belonged to clubs with great histories and I feel like I’ve made an actual contribution, albeit a small one in comparison to others, to that history. It was one of the reasons I joined Salford Harriers, nearly two years ago. They go back to 1884 and have won a number of major titles since then.

Unfortunately, for me, I’ve spent most of my time with Salford suffering with one injury or another, my current problem, pulled hamstring, is reminiscent of the injury I had when I first joined. Fortunately for Salford my incapacitation has not stopped them from winning as the club is filled with talented runners, in fact so many that our B teams feature prominently in competitions as well as our A teams.

Since I joined, and it’s purely coincidental, the Senior team has been building in strength. Sure Andi Jones leaving was a big loss but fresh blood has come into the team and our Senior squad can boast a team full of International runners with improving pbs. The Masters, always a threat and always supportive of Masters competitions (usually bringing more than one team in each age group, who else could boast that claim) have won or been challenging for the win in just about every competition. Since I joined, when we were already a class Masters squad, we’ve been bolstered by the addition of more quality runners. Unfortunately, for us, this last year the rules have changed to reduce the number of athletes to run in Masters teams in the relay competitions, whilst this should make competition fiercer, allowing more teams a bite at the cherry, it will mean a number of our athletes will miss out on their own little nibble. Perhaps it’s time to allow B teams to feature in the medals, I’m sure we could sneak a few that way and I’ve never seen why strong teams should be penalised, look at Aldershot’s ladies team, they regularly finish 1st and 2nd in major competitions but the fact that some always miss out on medals may encourage them to leave a team they don’t want to.

Next weekend is the Masters Road Relays at Sutton Park. It promises to be a fantastic day out. It always has been and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved for a number of years. I’ve yet to make my debut for Salford in this event, last year I was almost ready to start running again after messing up my Achilles in the winter, this year it still looks like I may have to miss out again. For Salford it’s not just a chance to fight for medals against the best clubs in the country, it’s a day out. Having seen our A team line ups I’m quite excited to see how they do.

It’s been a bit of a break since I wrote my last blog, work has kept me busy, so busy I’ve been working seven days a week for a while, thankfully I enjoy my work and there is reward in doing it. My last blog saw me express my thoughts on giving in to the injuries, whilst at the same time I was making a determined bid to try to make our four man team for next week’s championship. Writing down my thoughts made me more determined, the following weekend I was up in Scotland for a family do, so I decided to run the Edinburgh Parkrun. For the first time in many a race I actually lined up at the start thinking I could have a good race, I’d even put on my racing flats, something I’ve never done before for a parkrun. It was a windy day but as I set off the wind was behind me, I went through the first k faster than any I’ve done in a long time and an even quicker 2nd k, but turning the corner half way round I was suddenly hit by this incredibly strong wind, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. It stopped me dead, I pushed through, by 3k I was hitting lactic but still fighting through this stiff wind. It was incredibly painful and I just wanted it to stop but it wasn’t going to so I just had to keep fighting it all the way to the finish. I’d been on for a sub 17:30 finish early on but the wind saw me falter to 18:02 a chance wasted.

The confidence gained, despite the slow time, meant I lined up, four days later, for a 5 mile race with a real feeling that I could do well. And I was doing well, through 3 miles in a time that would have seen me run about 17:20 for 5k, I was coming strong in that 4th mile, passing people and setting my sights on a group ahead. With 1 mile to go I felt a slight twinge in my hamstring, I eased back a touch but thought I’d be ok to maintain pace. I decided not to push any harder and let the group ahead go, but I was still on for a reasonable finish, then 300m to go to the finish I felt a big pull. This time I had to slow right down and jog/limp into the finish. I lost a lot of time in that 300m but only 1 position. More importantly that was it for me, I could hardly walk and it’s only now that I’m able to make a start running again. Such is the life of a runner.

All my plans for this year have been thrown into disarray, the races I was targeting are all bunched around May and June and there is no way I’ll be fit enough to compete at the level I wanted to by then. I’ll have to build up slowly and focus on next year, when I hit the new age group. So clearly I’m not giving into it just yet.

Incidentally, I’ve just realised that I’ve written this blog from the perspective of the mens team, but actually the ladies are also showing form and will be aiming to feature next week too.

Come on Salford.

Written by Roger Alsop

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