Category Archives: Michael Littlewood

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017 – Michael Littlewood, Sunday, April 23, 2017

Michael Littlewood

Strategy

2:45 was the magic number, 6.17 min/mile average pace. This meant Championship time.  I had missed this target by 2 minutes last year and it was not going to happen again. To achieve this, while I needed to heed Allan’s advice (don’t go off too fast x 3) I wanted to feel settled at 6.13/min mile pace until halfway to then relax for the remainder of the run. I had my nutrition strategy sorted – my normal gels at 1 hour, 1.5 hours and 2 hours + five sips of water. Oh and I had remembered my Strider vest and the ubiquitous yellow hat!!

 

Start

We had managed to stay at the same hotel as last year which was close to Stephen meaning we could travel to our separate start lines together. This calmed my nerves greatly. At the actual start line, my body wasn’t playing the game – cramp in both calves and spasms in piriformis and hamstring. Trying to complete flexor stretches next to the Elites on a full start line was fun!! Even more fun was the toilet etiquette when I was not allowed to leave the start line to visit the facilities and was forced to use a bottle instead!! Time to then put my music on, have a little dance (a little bit of Cypruss Hill) and get my head in the game.

 

0 – 6.2mile

The first 10k was a dream, I felt photo fresh and cramp free. My pace was bang on time and I had a massive smile on my face. I even managed to work the crowd a bit and enjoy some of the sights.

 

6.2 – 13.1

Still smiling and running well. I was concerned about taking the gel, although I had practised with this, I only had a 50/50 success rate meaning that on occasion it upsets my stomach. Not this time!

The absolute highlight was spotting Oscar, Lewis and Wendy as I ran off Tower Bridge. The first time in 3 years that I have noticed them in the crowd. It really gave me a massive boost and I actually had to slow myself down a bit in order not to excitedly increase my pace!

 

13.1-17 miles

Now this was the first tricky bit. The route is a little dull coupled with the run getting harder. I needed to increase my effort to maintain my pace. I can’t say that I was struggling but my legs were definitely feeling more tired and just not as fresh – a bit of an anti-climax after the exhilaration of getting to the half way point.

 

18 – 23 miles

Mile 18 was my slowest mile at 6.30/min but I did not feel like I had slowed down. This worried me. I responded with a 5.53 at 19 miles which was maybe a mistake because miles 20 and 21 were really hard. I was not going to let it slip now though. I spotted a runner in front of me with ‘Training Oscar’ on his back – he was my focus. My pace stayed at 6.12 and 6.18 – still on track. This bit me on the backside at mile 22 and 23, pace was now 6.27 and 6.28. Could this really be slipping away??

 

The Decider – 24

Mile 24 was the biggest mile of my running life. I came out of the tunnel, up the hill and onto the Embankment, I had real negative thoughts. I wanted to give up, 2:45 seemed certainly out of range, I knew Striders were expecting me to succeed and I felt a failure, I had let them down. I had to kick my own arse and I looked at my hand which reminded me of Wendy and the boys who love me and really spur me on.

The attack began. The pain was incredible, the tops of my hamstrings were on fire, calves were screaming and my eyesight was beginning to blur but I was passing people left and right. I spotted a Crook runner about 50 metres ahead and I was catching him which gave me strength. Mile 24 was the quickest of the race – 5.47min/mile.

 

Mile 25

I had caught the Crook runner Rob Teasdale. This was North East team mentality in a nutshell! He said ‘Let’s do this!! Let’s get that Championship time!!’ This encouragement and teamwork was just what I needed, I was gone by then and really struggling, the impact of mile 24 meant I was even tasting a metallic taste in my mouth, the blood vessels at the back of my throat were bursting.

 

Mile 26 – finish line.

I came around the last corner with Rob and noted that I only had 40 seconds left, I was not sure I was going to make it. I told myself to light this one up!! I visualised myself in the morning looking back on the race and knowing that I had accomplished it. I don’t really remember much about that last 200 metres but I crossed the finish line with 9 seconds to spare!!

I could not believe what I had done, I stood still and was then quickly ushered forward although I did need some assistance with the first few steps.

 

The Championship Finishers – Stephen Jackson and Michael Littlewood

 

Final thoughts. (Warning – the soppy bit!!)

I would like to say a massive thank you to the purple army who I know had my back. I simply could not do this without your support. Allan Seheult as my coach and friend, thank you for all the time and care you give. My training partners Gareth, Tamsin, Matty and Stephen. It really is a privilege to run with you and most importantly, great fun! Stephen, Vics and Allan also get special mention for putting up with my drunken ramblings on that long train ride back home!!

To Wendy, Oscar and Lewis. I love you, thank you for all you do. Can’t wait to cheer you across the London Marathon finish line in 2018 Wendy!!

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Another Year gone by…

Fiona Brannan and Michael Littlewood

So here are a few words from me and Michael – reports from the other captains are also on the website.

They are not long and provide a short round of of the year; people took the time to write them so I encourage you all to have a read.
https://www.elvet-striders.uk/about/documents/

And now, from us:
Firstly, we’d like to thank you all for supporting us this past year while we find our feet and try to explain our mad ideas to you! Even just this past year we have seen the club grow further, new talent emerge and witnessed the improvement of so many people, there has barely been a week we haven’t seen a new PB or record broken. It is such a thrill to hear of all of the Striders incredible achievements. I wonder how many of our members have ran faster or further than they would have dared to dream this year?

Some highlights of the year for us would include the five athletes who qualify for championship entry to the London Marathon (Mark Kearney, Michael Littlewood, Emma Thompson, Stephen Jackson and Michael Mason), Elaine and her continuing success in the ultra-running world with the completion of the Lakeland 100.  We also saw the first race of its kind; Stuart Scott ran until he could run no further at the Last Man Standing, and Gareth continued to excel by retaining his winning title at Endure 24 Leeds, breaking his previous course record at the same time. The tradition of summer seeing successful Bob Graham Rounds continued with Tricia, who battled the elements along with a small army of Striders to become the latest to complete the challenge. However, the triumphs are not all endurance challenges! Proving that we have success across the board, we have four people above 80% age grading (national level!) at parkrun (Roz Layton, Fiona Shenton, Jean Bradley and Stephen Jackson), we had representation this year in North East Counties Fell Running and Cross Country teams – out of the six women in the fell running team, two were Striders (Fiona and Elaine) – and the first two home for the North East! Stephen continues to dominate in every discipline, and has even picked up an England Masters Cross Country vest, seems we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

For an unbelievable example of true grit and a never give up attitude look no further than our very own David Toth who conquered the UTMB this year on his 4th attempt. Closer to home, Mark Kearney seems to have cemented his very own happy place, running the ridiculously tough Hardmoors events. At the time of writing, he is leading the marathon series.

Striders also seem to set themselves apart when not running. Many of our members are part of the core team at our local parkruns, we thank you. This is in addition to helping out at other local races, we are a supportive bunch and we all know that without the volunteers, these events would not happen. Speaking of parkrun…. apparently running 1 in one day is simply not enough of a challenge, why not do 8 in one day (and a junior parkrun)!  parkrunathon raising money for If U Care Share Foundation was such a special day, terrific work by Catherine and the team for making such a memorable and important day happen.

For us, one of the best parts of having these roles is seeing the enthusiasm of members; when we lose the track in the winter months and everybody rallies to the alternatives, the monster turnouts at relays events (50 at Durham, >90 at Sedgefield!) – exciting as it is when we make it onto the podium, the turnout and energy of everybody who comes to run is what really makes these events. The club is only as good as its members, so we have a pretty good start there! With representation in every discipline from road, track, fell and cross country, and a truly diverse membership of old and new alike we truly are a force to be reckoned with in the North East.

Thank you all
Fiona and Michael (Captains)


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Captains Report 2020

Hello folks,

Last time we said it would be a while, and so it has been.

Reading over last year’s report truly brings home what a different world we are living in now. Anyone remember parkrun? Or that we did in fact have a cross country season? Even in these… ‘times’ (insert appropriate adjective), we are so very proud of our club and its heart, our club members. We have continued running, just in different ways and with adjusted objectives. Running Strong.

As always, it is so difficult to pull out individual highlights for fear of omitting other worthy feats however we feel a couple of people need mentioning who have completed particularly outstanding or perhaps just plainly ridiculous adventures. Beginning the year, Elaine Bisson pushed further than ever before to win the Montane Spine 100 mile Challenger (what next??). Segway to Stuart Scott: a Backyard Ultra on his treadmill – 108 miles in 26 hours in April followed by The Accumulator in May with Aaron Gourley (the number of miles ran each day to correspond with the date of the month, a total of 500 miles for the month) and in June a 24 hour run in aid of RT Projects.
Across the world (virtually, of course), Wendy and Ashley were amongst others in the club who ran the length of Tennessee… and back again to complete 1270 miles over the early summer. Maybe they fancied the holiday experience? No words to describe the endurance and strength of character each one of these challenges will have taken.
Alex Brown’s achievements are also worthy of note. Hitting his distance pb with the Hardmoors 55 (and looking exceedingly chirpy with it) was not enough, he then completed the Virtual Wooler Marathon (28.5 miles) just a few weeks later. Perhaps the PE department will stake a claim to poach him from the History department soon!
Continuing in the long-distance range, it was amazing to see Mark Kearney representing Striders proudly by winning the Punk Panther Ultra in lockdown conditions. He has certainly not let up on his impressive mileage and looks set to crack 4000+ miles this year. Only a very select group of Striders will achieve that in 2020.

Finally, no Captain’s report in recent years would be complete without mentioning ‘the legend that is’: Stephen Jackson. In running terms, Stephen has once again shown his talent by achieving the club’s 10k record with a time of 31:30 beating his own previously held record. Not content with this, he also beat the club record for HM with a time of 68:50 again beating his own previously held record. We are all aware that Stephen recently moved to run first claim for Sunderland Harriers. Elvet Striders will forever have your back Stephen and we wish you all the best as one of the most brilliant and gracious runners in the North East. Dave Shipman however, is delighted to retain the club’s mile record time!

2020 has been a year like no other. So many cancelled events, no team buses, club runs or parkruns. Camaraderie is such an important part of the club and this has not ceased due to lockdown (not the first, or the second). Seems like every week we have heard of our members completing virtual challenges either solo or with running buddies – we will still pretty much run any distance for a bit of bling (I hear Corrine has a lovely framed pictue of the A167 on her wall now)! Well done to all of those who have further and faster (or slower, or shorter!) in these circumstances, you are all built of stern stuff.

It is an old saying but still true. This club cannot function without its volunteers and we would like to say a huge thank you to our run leaders who have proved their flexibility this year by continuing to find imaginative ways to keep us going throughout, leading small groups and quality training sessions. Hear this: you are appreciated, and so much (it’s a gang that is always open to new members by the way!). Who could have thought a car park would become our main training ground, and special thanks to Michael (from Fiona, and the rest of us) for devising and running the sessions that soon became known as the ever popular ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Next year, look forward to the franchising and expansion to multiple locations, new coaches, new car parks, new dreams… (thank you Tamsin!)

Prior to this meeting Jonathan Hamill announced his intention to step down as Chairman of Elvet Striders, a position he has held since 2017. Jonathan has done an outstanding job leading this club for several years, from one turbulent situation to another. Being Chairman is a time consuming, difficult, and unpaid position, made only tougher through juggling full time work and the added pressures having a young family brings. We appreciate the not inconsequential effort and sacrifices you have made in devoting your time to the running of the club: they have not gone unnoticed. Thank you, Jonathan.

A personal note from Michael here, at the end of last year Elvet Striders lost an irreplaceable member, coach and friend. Allan Seheult first gave me any confidence in my running ability, I would run through walls for him. He epitomised Striders for me. The friendship, the generosity, the encyclopaedic running knowledge. So many of us benefitted from his kinship and support. We will never forget him. As 2021 beckons and the hopes of a vaccine develop, I am sure we are all wishing for the day that we can return to some form of group running and perhaps even cross country and elbows out (fingers crossed!!) When this happens, lets not get too excited and let’s remember Allan’s three points of sage advice: … Don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast and don’t go off too fast!

Thank you all, and here’s to the next year!

Fiona and Michael

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