Running the race is normally the easy part – getting to the start line injury free and in good shape is the real challenge. After the race our weekly club roundup email started like this: “Still injured; out of shape; a few weeks off the pace; aiming for sub-70 [are] all phrases issued by Gareth Pritchard in recent weeks!”.
So I guess I should put this into context and hopefully add some colour to what was another great day on the beautiful tarmac for the Striders. Almost 2 months ago I injured my achilles quite badly and have struggled ever since then. The run/walk half at Haltwhistle finally shot it to bits in September where I came 2nd from last and had to walk over the line.
Even after this it took me another 3 weeks of failed self-taught rehab before I finally admitted defeat and went to see a physio like I should have done from the start – some big lessons learned.
Race day was almost perfect for running: fresh, dry and guaranteed to be mud free for my fellow PB hunters. Striders always put on a bus for this race which I highly recommend to everyone thinking about this next year. It’s a great chance to catch up with fellow striders and a well earned pit-stop for Sunday lunch on the way home (they do a great chocolate cake).
After only managing 2 training runs and having to tape up my achilles for the race, I was trying to be realistic with my goals. So a slow start, then build to 5 miles and if my achilles is OK, push hard to hopefully be home in around 65 mins. That was the plan but as I always expected, it went out of the window as soon as the race began.
I started near to my fellow speedy striders, Grahame, Matt and Stephen then my natural racing instinct got the better of me. After clocking a suicidal first mile at a 5K PB pace I finally caught up with the marathon king, Stephen (the start is downhill so you have to take advantage, but we both suffered from this super speedy start).
I reigned myself back in and started to clock 6 minute mile pace. Still faster than I planned and I knew I was not in shape to hold it but no way was I pulling back from a race. Half-way came in about 29:30 and my achilles still felt good but my lack of fitness was really showing on the undulating course as my pace started slowing towards the end.
As I slowed and people passed I kept expecting to see a purple strider top and was mentally getting ready to dig in and race hard. Thankfully the last mile is all downhill but I had no real idea of my race time until I heard Alister’s booming voice saying that sub-60 was still on as I neared the finish. A last mad sprint and and I was home – in 59:58! First strider home and still able to walk! I was very happy to say the least and only 45 seconds slower than last year – a total shock!
Stephen was 2nd strider home in 60:36 and looking a dead cert to break sub-60 next time after another massively impressive run. PB’s were had by multiple striders so a big well done to all. Congratulations to Fiona Jones as first female strider home with an impressive sub 1:15. A special mention also for Sophie Dennis who had a horrible fall in the first mile but continued for another nine to finish. Two bloody knees but she was still smiling as she crossed the finish line showing true strider grit and a credit to the club.
There was no t-shirt or memento but there were two pairs of running socks in the goody bag, so I can’t complain. As always, it was a well organised event, not all the roads were closed off but that really didn’t make a difference. Another great day and one I will definitely be looking forward to again next year.
|1||Tadele Geremew||Elswick Harriers||1||49:48|
|56||Alex Sneddon||Jarrow & Hebburn AC||L||1||59:42|
|637||Anita Dunseith||L 2||205||1:48:52|
|638||Sophie Dennis||L 2||206||1:49:43|