East Hull Harriers Winter League Race 2: 3 Mile handicap, Saturday 18/11/2017
Considering how simple the sport of running is, it ain’t ‘arf complicated sometimes. This was my first race since June, but probably the first time I’d felt ‘up’ for a race since February. Having had a decent crack at training through January, I’d set myself a personal target of breaking the sub-39 barrier at the Dewsbury 10km – nothing that would trouble any world records, but a milestone for someone who’d never gone under 41 minutes before the last Dewsbury 10km in 2016.
It went well, to a point. I hit my splits, and saved plenty for the fast 2nd half of the race – and I went through 10km well under my target in 38:32, but thanks to some cavalier shifting of the course turning point, I still had another 200metres to go before crossing the line, in a rather frustrating 39:07.
I spent the remainder of the day in what I’d describe as a ‘reflective’ mood. It included arguments with the wife, unnecessarily shouty conversations with the children over important things like the volume at which they were breathing in and out, blaming Pedigree Chum for the pungent nature of our dog’s breath etc, but mostly it was spent scrutinising 1400 other runner’s Strava distances and angrily emailing the race director, West Yorkshire Police, the army, Iron Man (who definitely exists), anyone that would listen really.
This set the tone for the year. The following Tuesday, still staring my arse squarely in the face (eye?), I went out on a 10mile training run with our quick lads, and came back with a trapped nerve that put me out of running for a couple of months. I jogged around the Beverley 10km, did a couple of Summer League races, succumbed to the corporate allure of a free place in the JT Hull 10km, attempted the Withernsea 5mile, but my arse-staring remained resolute, resulting in lack-lustre performances in all of those events.
Needless to say, I took the rather insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things 200metre discrepancy rather well.
So, it was with gladdened heart that I turned up to club on Saturday with a spring in my step. The weather was bang on a for a cross country sprint, I’d had a decent few miles under my belt in the run up, and I was actually looking forward to a race for the first time in months.
It was brill to see faces old and new gathering on the drainbank, all of us armed with the usual ‘yeah-not-bad-I’ll-see-how-I-get-on-I’m-just-going-to-enjoy-it’ routine that comes with every ask of ‘how are you feeling?’; everyone catching up with those that they hadn’t seen in a while; warily checking each other’s start times and doing some hard sums in their head to try and work out whether they/you were catchable, and playing down your chances of winning if you had a decent handicap – and it was at this point that the mighty East Hull Harriers did what months of physio and plodding had failed to do – put an end to my stare down contest with my exit hole (which I totally won, by the way).
As my (generous – cheers Mike 😉 ) start time approached, I was feeling not bad and was just looking to see how I’d get on, and was just going to enjoy it really. I was paired with tattooed pocket rocket Kris Hopkins, who made sure we set off at a decent lick, and we found ourselves passing a fair few within the first half mile or so.
Having successfully negotiated the first fence with the style and grace of a young Colin Jackson, my misplaced confidence/fox-like cunningness saw me try to take on the second in an attempt to garner valuable hundredths of a second over everyone.
This did not end well.
By-passers may have been forgiven for believing a helicopter had been shot down, such was the extent of my flailing limbs and subsequent multiple instances of contact with said metal gate. For a brief moment I found myself seeing my arse yet again, although this time in a rather more literal sense.
To the relief of our nearby President (it sounded like a laugh, but I think he said ‘Oh my god, I hope you’re OK Tony, is there anything I can do to help?’), I was OK to continue unimpeded.
Thankfully, the rest of the race wasn’t quite as eventful. I managed even splits all the way around, and although I didn’t trouble the winners, I felt like I’d worked hard for it – something I’d not felt since February (did I mention, that was at the Dewsbury 10km where I’d been done out of an official sub 39minute time thanks to people who can’t count?)
Mike Murray took the spoils on the day, dipping in under 31 minutes at 30:59, ahead of a closely run second and third placed Matt Pinder and David Bell, separated by a mere four seconds. Laura Palframan, Tina Wigglesworth and Janet Kay made up the first three ladies places, with Mike Hargreaves having another shocker, finishing in a pedestrian 16:51 and taking the fastest time on the day, with Anneliese Tomlinson being the fastest lady in 22:07.
Many thanks to all of the marshalls, timekeepers and handicappers that make these races possible – and to Pete for making sure this race was square on 3miles 😉
A special mention must also go to our young Harriers, Ash Jacketts, and Oli and George Burnett – all posting some great times in recent races, with lots of the senior runners now looking over their shoulders for you!
The day was topped off for me when I was fortunate enough to draw one of our club spots in the London Marathon next year. It’s the runners equivalent of winning the lottery, except with more pain and less cash to buy Iron Man models with. It’ll be my first proper crack at the distance since I thought I’d taken 28 minutes off my previous best in Manchester in 2015 – you know, the one that didn’t count because the course measurers can’t measure. Luckliy, I don’t tend to dwell on such trivial things, and will be going all out this winter to put things right next April.