Getting back, Radiohead and Durham parkrun…

Since my 5k PB in May I’ve gone a bit quiet!

I was really pleased to finally crack the sub 17 minute 5k. That had been my key goal since 2012/2013. It felt like it might never happen. This year I really focussed, made some subtle changes to routine and mindset and achieved it.

Everyone says the journey is more important than the destination.

I can confirm that is true.

Perhaps its the yearning for wanting something, and to feel like you might not get that keeps you going. And then when you get it, yes there is elation but why not celebration?

With hindsight I didn’t celebrate enough. In fact the very next week I was in Dubai. Another work trip. I tried to keep up the training, even step it up a notch. Even to the point where I was running 50m up and down alongside a motorway in Dubai centre, in 35 degree heat – the locals must have thought I was crazy.

I had Blaydon in my sights and a desire to build on my 2015 performance.

After Dubai it was back to blighty. I was feeling distracted. It feels like the country is going down the pan… I had done well to ignore politics leading up to my 5k but I was getting sucked back in by the election fever. It felt like deja vu from the Brexit debacle a year earlier.

It started to suck my mental energy. But I pushed on to the point where a knee and hip injury suddenly flared up out of nowhere.

I was forced to treadmill walk in the week leading up to Blaydon, still every intention of running.

Waking up on the 9th of June and the deja vu was confirmed. Surely May had to resign!

As the day went on and my mind refused to contemplate Blaydon and my right leg refused to stop being cranky the decision was made to pull out of Blaydon. Very disappointing.

The mind turns now to GNR. This will be the first year since I started running that I will be trying to train with purpose over the summer. I confess to not being a summer runner. I am a winter runner. Couples of reasons – firstly I suffer from Hayfever which doesn’t help what is an already difficult endeavour! Secondly I always have a 2 week holiday where I try to forget everything – including running!

This year is no exception. The difference now is I have 11 or 12 weeks to get on the start line at the GNR in the best shape possible. I have had a few hayfever episodes but my mindset is better than ever before and I will not allow it to bother me. I am also going on holiday for 2 weeks in July. So I will need to navigate through that getting some running in where possible, seeking to maintain fitness so that when I get back I can hit the final 6 weeks preparation and have the confidence to get out and perform.

The last 2 weeks have been a slow build up. The knee and hip injury has subsided and this week is probably the first proper week back training.

Today I got out for a parkrun and the first real leg stretch since a 20 minute threshold run in May, not long after my 5k PB.

It was a reflective day. I had spent Friday evening watching Radiohead at Glastonbury. Very emotional, exciting and amazing – always a band that make my hairs stand up on my arms. So many songs that remind me of different periods of my life.

The Bends and OK Comptuer the real teenage angst of my secondary school years – loner, getting lost in the melancholy.

Kid A and Amnesiac the lost University years… Still angsty, still lonely, still confused but now fuelled by alcohol etc…

Hail to the Thief leaving Uni with a 1st and signing on the dole…

In Rainbows – being in work and hating every minute – nothing but living for the weekend.

So its always emotional to watch them play some important songs that resonate 100% every time.

And so I set off for Riverside, OK Computer the soundtrack to the drive. On arrival at Riverside I noticed that there was another event on. Parkrun was cancelled. So I quickly looked up Durham parkrun which I had never done before and set off with an expected arrival of 8:52.

Luckily the parking facilities were good and I was able to squeeze in a short warm up.

The course is good but challenging. It starts on the Durham Uni running track and then onto grass, over the bridge and more grass, a loop round and back to the bridge and to the finish.

Running a new course is always a bit of an unknown. I didn’t really have a plan other than to not look at pace and just see what happened. Deep down I knew I wasn’t looking for a hard effort. Although it wasn’t too hot there was a slight breeze.

Starting off I didn’t feel like the pace was strong. Mark Snowball of Morpeth Harriers (who I met at the Clive Cookson 10k in 2016 where I was DQ’d for not wearing my race chip) came alongside and we had a small chat. He said he was just jogging which made me push on.

I was shocked to go through the first mile in 5:22 which is around PB pace (16:44). That didn’t help me as I felt I’d been rash and overcooked it as I was probably looking for something sub 17:50 given I hadn’t done any harder running since May.

The second mile slowed considerably and Mark was back with me. We exchanged some more chat and I’d accepted I wouldn’t be pushing any harder. Actually Mark held pace and I dropped off. The second mile was 5:50ish and the 3rd mile slowed to >6:00 minute miling.

I didn’t feel good at all. I was able to finish off in just over 18 minutes. The Garmin had the course as slightly long and I’d averaged 5:46 miling.

Given that I’m looking for a target of 5:45-5:50 miling for the Great North Run this is a gentle reminder that I need to get back to some proper training and just start getting some confidence building runs in the bag.

On to the next step…

Thanks for reading.

What’s next?

Now that I have completed my sub seventeen running dream I’m excited to give an update on what I am planning next with both my running and blogging.

As I’ve mentioned a few times my immediate goal is a strong showing at the Blaydon Race. I’m looking to build on my 16:44 5k. Ideally I would also have completed a decent 10k race but, with the race being a week on Friday, time is now limited. 

Following the Temple Park 5k I had a work trip to Dubai and a bank holiday weekend in the UK. Training was completed more as and when and overall I’ve ticked over and muddled through a tad. That said I’m confident I can get things in order. After that I’ll be planning for the Great North Run and trying to put in place the best possible training to peak for that.

I’ve decided to keep the sub seventeen dream blog going as a vehicle to write about my experiences training for and racing the Blaydon and the GNR. 

Quest for a Vest!

After that I’ll be looking to start a new blog with a working title of “Quest for a Vest!” This will chronicle my new dream of representing my country as a Veteran athlete. I’ve long been inspired by local athletes such as Kev Jeffress and Terry Scott who have achieved the accolade of representing England on the roads and at XC.

This is a huge goal for me but I feel it is the type of goal that will inspire me to keep working at my running. I realise the standard is high and I will need to improve a good deal. The sub seventeen will need to become a sub 16 at the very least. These next few years will be critical in my development, to ensure I stay fit and healthy and motivated throughout.

But I feel a good half marathon debut and a return to form over the cross country in the 2017/18 season will lay the foundations.

So the plan will be to start the new blog in September 2017.

Your Running Potential

In addition to that I have also set up another running website titled Your Running Potential

This will cover my thoughts on how all runners can strive to improve and reach their goals and dreams. 

This is in the very early stages but my goal is to help as many people as possible who want to improve. 

Ultimately I have been able to improve my 5k time by over 25% up to this point and I feel all runners can achieve similar improvements (if not more) relative to themselves. So this website will be my outlet for that.

I hope to write blogs, post recordings and videos. I may also look to get a podcast going and some other interactive features as I seek to build up readers. I would also finally like to write and publish some e-books. So watch this space and if you’d like to keep up to date please subscribe here.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading and happy running! As always if you’d like to get in touch my email is kevin.richardson3910@hotmail.co.uk

RACE REPORT – Temple Park 5k

RACE REPORT – Temple Park 5k

I’d like to dedicate this Blog post to Jasmine x

—————————————————-

Before writing this post I wanted to re-read my first ever Blog from back in June 2013 (you can read it here – first blog), just to remind myself why I started writing about my running and also how far I’ve come.

My goal was always to run the sub seventeen 5k before my 35th birthday on 10th March 2016. Of course I missed that goal, and it’s been a long journey – over 5 years since I first ran Newcastle parkrun in 2012 in 22:39.

As I’ve explained in previous blogs my key races this year are the Blaydon in June and the Great North Run in September. My goal for Blaydon is a top 40 and the Great North Run around 1hr 17 for my debut over the distance.

It would be wrong to say that the sub 17 5k target was put to one side.

Indeed, to achieve either of my goals I knew I needed the sub 17. One of the things about running is that there is a correlation between what you can do over short and longer distances. To run a 1.17 half I knew I needed something like a 16:48 5k.

So I planned to get a 5k done in May and have a real crack at getting the monkey off my back. Unfortunately, missing my original goal of March 2016 had made this goal (and at times this Blog) feel like a monkey on my back!

That said, deep down, I knew I could do the sub 17 as far back as 2014. It was just a matter of when. I’d gotten close…

At the Blaydon Race in June 2015 I had gone though the 1st 5k in 16:3- (though downhill) and I’d ran a few 17.10s at parkrun and a parkrun pb of 17:05 at Newcastle. I just needed a race as I hadn’t done a 5k properly since September 2014 where I ran 17:53.

So the Temple Park Friday night 5k on 19th May seemed ideal. It seemed fitting also to me that the race was organised by Luke Adams. I have a lot of respect for Luke. Having ran 1hr 10 some years ago at the Great North Run firstly Luke is a class runner. Secondly he played a part in my running journey having coached me at the back end of 2013. It was unfortunate that I wasn’t to know that I was actually on my way to becoming anaemic at that time due to an unrelated illness. So, as a result I wasn’t coached for very long by Luke but I have kept a close interest in his running and his RUN EAT SLEEP coaching and events management business.

I knew the course was fast and a Friday night gives me a good chance to fit the race into my work schedule. One of the reasons I have been so lightly raced over the years is my work travel schedule which makes it difficult to commit in advance to races.

Anyway I decided to enter this race and in my mind I felt confident I could finally break my target at the race.

Training was going well.

As mentioned in previous Blogs I have adopted a much more positive mindset in my life. Still not perfect but improvement is improvement. Although I wasn’t running as many miles as my peak in 2015 I was feeling good. A few key points I would highlight –

  1. I adopted the “plan your training” at least a week before discipline – both the what and when – this helps simply getting it done;
  2. I was completing a light early morning daily exercise regime – just simple, star jumps, Burpees, push ups etc. Over time this daily routine compounds;
  3. I joined SMART FITNESS for a weekly strength and conditioning class. Again, I think this seems subtle but before joining I could barely do 1 pull up. I can now do pull ups with extra weight!;
  4. I train using the 80/20 rule. I’m a big believer in Pareto as its a universal law. It means I do 80% of my training easy and 20% hard. It helps keep me healthy and it works! My harder sessions were giving me confidence that I was in sub 17 shape.

At this point I want to give a special thanks to my other previous coach Dave Tune down in Doncaster. I first met Dave at the height of my health issues with anaemia. In fact I had to cancel my first meeting with Dave as I literally got the phone call from the hospital a couple of days before I was due to drive down. Without wanting to be over dramatic, I might not be writing this blog if it wasn’t for Dave as I can’t be certain I would have kept the running going if I hadn’t had his friendly and calm advice. I felt ashamed to be cancelling the meeting due to anaemia but Dave was very understanding and gave excellent advice. He helped me feel normal after all.

Dave was the first to tell me that I wasn’t dreaming, that I definitely had a sub 17 (and more) in me. That was dynamite and gave me so much confidence. He also taught me the type of hard work that was required and the importance of lactate threshold training, good nutrition, hydration and sleep. One of my slight regrets is not seeing through my coaching with Dave but I decided to go it alone in Oct/Nov 2015. I was struggling mentally with work travel and fitting in training. I felt like I was pushing myself too hard. I know now it was me who wasn’t dealing with the planning and dedication that was required.

Anyway, back to the race!

Coming up to race week I was getting nervous. I told myself that was a good sign. I planned two key sessions – a 20 minute threshold run on the Monday and a speed play session on the Wednesday.

In terms of numbers both sessions were excellent.

The threshold was done averaging 5.45 miling (I’d need to run 5.27-28 for the sub 17) and my heart rate average was relatively low. That said it had felt like I’d had to push. Maybe too hard. The speed play was great all round. 5 times 1 minute hard (by feel) with 2 minutes rest. Most of them were completed 5 minute miling. And I had a Eureka moment on the last rep as I’d been tightening in the shoulders reps 2, 3 and 4. On rep 5 I decided to just relax the arms. I almost imagined I was legendary Aussie marathon runner Rob de Castella! Felt great. Confidence was there and I was ready.

Come Friday I was keen to get work done without too much stress. Didn’t work out that way but I’d managed to get my nutrition spot on and felt good as I got in the car to drive down to South Shields. I was keen to get in the zone so I turned to my old friend Iggy Pop and the title track from the seminal album Fun House. I literally played it on repeat pretty loud all the way down. Its such a great tune and the guitar and drums and horns are just amazing. Iggy’s vocals are so cool. A real motivational tune for me.

My good mate and all round running pal Michael Hedley had kindly offered to meet me at Temple Park to give me a course recce before (he had ran the race a couple of months prior) and also cheer me round. I was very appreciative. I felt good on the jog round. I had a couple of little doubts about the course – the grass start as it had been raining all day and there were maybe 3 or 4 fairly sharp corners that would need to be navigated effectively. But other than that the conditions were perfect.

I managed to get a few strides in about 10 minutes before the off and got a decent starting position on the line. My key focus was to get a decent position on the path and off the grass quickly. As we got underway that happened ok but then I felt a little boxed in until we navigated the first sharp left hander. I was then able to open up a little bit and settle.

An absolutely vital decision I had made earlier in the week was to not wear my Garmin GPS watch. I strongly believe the Garmin is a training device and not a racing device. Perhaps for Half Marathon and Marathons they become again valuable but not for 5ks. I had decided I would race and, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, use my internal GPS.

I had also primed myself with some mental self talk. Simple two or three word statements I could repeat when I needed.

It was great having Michael there at various points with the type of positivity I needed from the sidelines. I had started well and I was aware I was in good company. I was also aware that I was running amongst sub 17 runners. But I was unaware of what pace I was sitting on, and knew I couldn’t allow any let up.

I would say the first 2-3 kms took what felt like an age. I felt very strong, and I felt like I was travelling well but it wasn’t flying over. Just before the end of the first big lap there were a few little inclines which, although not difficult, just required a bit of something. And coming round the first sharp left hander again I was conscious there was still 2kms to go, what I would call the business end.

I focussed on keeping the shoulders relaxed as I had done in training. Only difference this time was the arms were starting to ache and get heavy. Around 3.5k the legs started to feel the effort. I think a couple of runners did pass me between here and 4.5k. My main focus was not letting a Jarrow & Hebburn runner get away as we negotiated the last 600m. Although I was desperate for the race to end at this point the course was actually enjoyable with a slightly favourable downhill section. I wasn’t losing ground on the J&H lad but I wasn’t making it up either. Coming to the last bend I received the final shouts of encouragement from Michael – asking for a sprint finish. I managed to pick up slightly but nothing like the sprint finish I am capable of.

Crossing the line I felt the job was done but I couldn’t be 100% sure. I overheard a runner who was just behind mention 16:46 which gave me real hope I had ran something under 16:45.

On the warm down jog with Michael the world felt like a better place. I was knackered but in a good way. And driving home it was great to get some celebratory fish and chips to enjoy with Jasmine.

The provisional results were out and the sub 17 was confirmed – I finished in 12th place with a finishing time of 16:44… Absolutely delighted!

The final results are posted here – results

My next (and final) blog post on sub seventeen dream will detail my plans for the future with my running and blogging! This is the end of the sub 17 chapter but certainly not the end of my running and blogging journey!

Thanks to anybody that has read this blog over the years and it would be great to hear from you. My email is kevin.richardson3910@hotmail.co.uk

Fight a Good Fight and Keep Faith

This morning I went out for a 9 mile run.

The plan was to run 1 mile very easy (a low aerobic state) and then get into the next 7 in a Moderate Aerobic state. I would end with another mile very easy.

This was never meant to be a hard run. But some days are just hard. Today was one such day.

The legs felt heavy. The mind focussed on what was wrong rather than what was right. The wind was gusting and almost always against. The hills seemed steeper than normal. Cars got in the way, why do people let their dogs run amok?

Normally I would let this affect me post run.

Thoughts that would typically run through my mind –

  • Somethings wrong;
  • I’m getting a cold;
  • I’ll never make it;
  • Maybe I’m not cut out for this…

The list could go on, and on, and on…

I’ll put it out there – so far 2017 has been one of my most positive, outward looking and optimistic years of my life. It could be said that it wouldn’t be difficult given that my previous years have, all in all, been pretty negative – 2016 perhaps the worst. That despite a privileged upbringing, access to all I needed and an abundance of opportunity.

I’ve stopped trying to analyse why I’ve spent a life of negativity. I’ve spent too much time “time travelling” as James Altucher would say. Why can’t I stay in this moment now and enjoy it?

No more time travelling, no more dwelling on the past. From now on I will focus on the now and the future.

Some reasons 2017 has been the most positive, outward looking and optimistic year of my life so far –

  1. I have focussed on my personal development – I put aside my disdain for the positive and opened my mind and discovered in particular Jim Rohn (more on that in a bit);
  2. I reduced my intake of news and social media – this is so important. The news is 100% negative and social media can drain your life down the toilet if you let it;
  3. I have (almost) stopped getting emotional about politics;
  4. I have introduced a powerful morning routine which involves getting up 1hr earlier, reading, focussing on my goals (I now have some key clear goals for my life and running), exercising (non running), and planning my day – this has been a game changer;
  5. I have improved my diet;
  6. I am thinking about ideas and writing my thoughts in a Journal more than ever before;
  7. I have stopped worrying about getting 8hrs sleep and just ensure to be sensible about my rest.

There are probably more but these are the ones that resonate the most.

And so with this stronger base in my life I am now able to realise that one seemingly poor bad run is not something to get irrationally upset about like I would before.

Perhaps the most positive influence on my life this year has been Jim Rohn. I would recommend anybody wishing to improve their lives to listen to Jim Rohn. I appreciate he may not be everyones cup of tea as he was a Capitalist (a Network Marketer – shock horror!) and used stories from the Bible often. By the way Capitalism is not evil in my opinion. Many people have misunderstood Capitalism to mean Corporatism. Corporatism gave Capitalism a bad name. Also, I am not religious (I was Christened but haven’t practiced) but I do see the moralistic value and wisdom coming from key stories and teachings in the Bible.

But I will put it this way – I am stronger mentally and physically in only 4-5 months of first discovering Jim Rohn. I have my path clear in front of me now in terms of what I want to do in life. It may take me 5-10 years to get where I want to be but I am on my way and that feels good.

So, critically, the reason why I will not let this mornings disappointing run affect me is that I know that I am fighting a good fight. And most importantly I am fighting a good fight and keeping faith. 

These are the words Jim Rohn paraphrases from the Bible and uses so powerfully in the video below. I have lost count of the number of times I have listened to this video in its entirety over the last couple of months. For me it encapsulates some key principles to keep in mind. In particular never giving up until…

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do. The message has passion and the message is that you have the power to do whatever you want to do.

Thanks for reading (and watching).

P.S. if you liked this blog and it helped you in anyway I’d like to hear from you! Email – kevin.richardson3910@hotmail.co.uk. If you have any questions about running I’d also love to hear from you. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

Possibility

Today I read a pertinent Blog post by Seth Godin, totally unrelated to running but pertinent nonetheless.

Here is the Blog post in full (it’s short) –

“Possibility”

This is not the same as reality. But without belief in the possibility, your reality is going to be severely curtailed.

We must avoid the temptation to begin with an analysis of what’s easy, or what’s probable, or even likely.

We can only do our work justice by examining what’s possible, and then deciding if we care enough to pursue it.

My thought is that one way of thinking about what’s possible is obviously looking at what’s been done before by others. 

I’ve been watching a lot of Commonwealth games marathons. 

If those guys (many not full time “professional” athletes) could run 26.2 miles averaging 5 minutes per mile then it must be possible for me to believe I can run 3.1 miles close to that pace. So my current PB must be improved!

It’s just a case of believing what’s possible, putting in the work, being patient and never giving up until…

Also of paramount importance is why! Why do you want it?

I have my why but more on that when I break the 17 minute barrier.

Thanks for reading.

Newcastle parkrun, 6th May

As I get closer to the Blaydon Race on 9th June my key target is to dip under the 17 minute mark for 5k and also get a decent 10k workout, ideally both within May.

In truth I don’t feel like parkrun is really the place to get it (the sub 17 5k) done but I do think its beneficial to get out on a Saturday morning and put in a decent effort and it’s useful running hard with others to get the competitive juices flowing somewhat.

So I got myself down to Newcastle parkrun with that in mind.

I’m starting to feel good and my confidence is growing as I get gently back up towards more normal training levels. It’ll be another 3-4 weeks all going well before I’m back up to maybe ~5hrs running a week. I feel very confident that in doing so I’ll have the fitness to finally get through this so far elusive 17 minute barrier.

As it happens I’ve entered the Temple Park 5k in South Shields on 19th May and I fully expect to put in a good showing there.

I did my usual 10 minute jog warm up and added in 3 or 4 strides around the lake near the start.

On getting to the start it was nice to see fellow Elswick members Tadele and Lee Bennett.

I think everyone was raring to go as it was a little chilly and breezy but the organisers had an issue with the finish missing tokens which were yet to arrive. So we were 10mins delayed which led to an extra jog warm up.

Taking my own advice from the NEMAA relays on Wednesday I had opted to not wear my HRM and also not track my pace. I wanted to continue to use my “internal GPS” and just get used to learning how to push myself without any outside influences.

Once we got underway it was noticeable that the breeze would be against the first 3 quarters of a mile so I slotted in behind a group of maybe 4 or 5 other runners.

I felt we were traveling the type of pace I wanted (at a guess 5.30/mile) but I was probably deceived by my shielded position out of the wind in the group.

That was confirmed when Lee passed the group quickly on our left and I decided to try to go in pursuit. Lee had gone straight into 3rd whilst Tadele was well away in 1st already and a female athlete was 2nd with a decent gap as well.

I know Lee is a seasoned sub 17 5k runner and I felt like it would be a decent tactic to go with him. But after 1 mile (passed in a too slow 5.37) he changed pace dramatically and I couldn’t go with him (later I would see he posted a 5.12 2nd mile so no wonder he went away quite rapidly).

That left me in 4th with what sounded like 1 other runner on my heels in 5th.

The second mile was fairly quick except a short section into the wind. I was working hard but despite the effort I was losing ground all the time to Lee who had also gone passed the female athlete and into 2nd some way around 3k.

I started to think about the 3rd mile and how I would cope, knowing that it would be into the teeth of the wind. Mile 2 was completed in 5.28.

I then got stuck into the first quarter of the 3rd mile. It can be best described as tough. On Strava the segment is called “Time to dig in” and dig in you must. Undoubtedly everyone slows. Breathing increases and heart rate rises. It could be soul destroying as you feel seconds leak away.

The key thing is to ensure you pick up as soon as you make the 90 degree left hander back onto the path. The wind suddenly became favourable.

I had actually been dumped into 5th just 10-20 metres before the path. But I had the inside line on the corner and quickly got my nose in front again and picked it up quite nicely and drove on.

Passing the 4k marker is a key point in any 5k. 

What have you got left?

Unlike the last time I had done Newcastle parkrun I didn’t put a really hard burst in this time. Maybe a pace check at that point would have been beneficial for fresh impetus? But I did feel like I was progressing strongly. You are always conscious that there is time to make up. Perhaps the benefit of running on feel is that you have a “if in doubt keep pushing mentality”.

Another sharp left hander has to be navigated before the final 400m push. There was a decent cross wind left to right which was more distracting rather than hurting.

I was pushing without making any ground on 3rd but certainly not losing any to 5th.

Getting over the line I stopped my watch to see 17.20. More progress and undoubtedly a stronger run than at the Riverside a week earlier.

Onwards and upwards.

Thanks for reading.

 

NEMAA Relays

Having turned 35 in 2016 I became eligible to run in the Masters division.

One of the challenges of running is to fight the advancing years, to get better as you get older. To be honest its not something I’ve worried about (yet). I’m still young in my head!

Having started running in 2012 just before my 30th birthday I’ve improved year on year and the truth of the matter is I have never really trained consistently during that period. So I feel now, having learned what I’ve learned, I have the knowledge, patience and willpower (and motivation) to really achieve what I want to achieve. More on this in future posts!

Last May I made my Masters debut at the NEMAA relays and I’d really enjoyed it. Not only was it fun running in a mixed Masters race but I also love relays as they are short and sharp and can get exciting. They are a great chance to stretch the legs and at just under 2 miles the Bedewell course in Jarrow fits the bill.

Last year I’d ran first leg which is a bit more like competing in a normal race. This year I was given 3rd and final leg which I was quite pleased with. I was running in the 35-44 age category for my club Elswick with team mates Paul Turner (1st leg) and David Armstrong (2nd leg).

A short drive from work to the course and I felt quite good both in warm up and just hanging around waiting to race. I didn’t feel nervous and I was quite looking forward to running. I think this was down to the fact that I had decided to ditch the heart rate monitor (absolutely no point for a short relay) and also promised myself I wouldn’t look at my Garmin watch. I was determined to just race.

It had crossed my mind that running 3rd leg might not be that conducive to racing as the field might be strung out but wasn’t worth worrying about. If it ended up a time trial it would be fine also. I knew the course so no worries there, the only issue with the course are the couple of sharp corners to navigate which do slow you down.

The race got underway later than planned and Paul Turner ran a great first leg clocking a very fast 10:08 time. David Armstrong took over and also put in a great effort. I had been stood on the start line with Elswick club mate and super vet Lee Bennett who was running in the 45 category. Lee got away before me and as David finished and I got going I didn’t really know exactly where we were in the rankings. It certainly felt top 6 or 8.

My key concern was picking off as many runners as possible. Its hard to keep track of exactly what goes on in such a short race but I felt like I got into a good rhythm quickly and felt strong.

 

NEMAA Relays 3.5.17.jpg

Getting going at the NEMAA Relays (Credit – George Routledge)

 

I remember passing the legend that is Stuey Bell of Blackhill Bounders and I navigated the first lap quite well. I felt the 1 mile vibrate on my Garmin but was disciplined enough to not look. If I had I probably would have been disappointed to look down at a 5:26 as I recall running much faster than that last year.

The really pleasing aspect of not looking down and just focussing on my running and taking runners was that I ran a much more solid 2nd lap. Last year, following the fast first lap I bombed out to a mediocre last lap. This year  I ran even paced. This proves that the mind and body has its own natural GPS and you just have to trust it!

With about a quarter mile to go my main aim was catching the only real possible target ahead who turned out to be Alasdair Blain of Tyne Bridge Harriers. Strange as I’d ran Riverside the week before where Alisdair was close behind in 3rd.

I felt sure I could catch him and I felt like I was making up ground quickly.

Coming round the last bend I mustered a sprint finish and felt sure I would pick him off approaching the line. However it wasn’t to be.

The results aren’t out so I don’t know exactly how the team did but overall I was pleased with a 10:22 according to my Garmin.

I feel like I have the speed in the legs to build on this and finally smash through the 17 minute barrier for 5k.

Watch this space.

Thanks for reading.