(This diary covers Monday June 25th – Sunday July 8th, 2018)

The Halifax Harriers Summer Handicap 10K

Perhaps I was looking forward slightly too keenly to my annual race of self-flagellation, but alas, the Halifax Harriers Summer Handicap 10K, which took place on Tuesday June 26th, was a brilliant opportunity to test my pace and get another feel for racing in the heat. Its a race I’ve come to really enjoy, even if my fast pace means I’m at a severe disadvantage before I start, due to the race format.

Runners are set off minute by minute, starting from the slowest working all the way up to the fastest. I started with a 23 minute deficit, even bigger than the gap I had to make up the year before, but that didn’t make it a dead loss. I committed to making this a hard effort. And that I did. My first 5K went for 17:47. I couldn’t keep up that level, however and I wound up finishing in 38:17, still not a bad time, but although I still ran well, I clearly paid for my early pace in those conditions. I won’t run the half marathon like that, but it was a good reminder to myself not to go too crazy at the start!

Race photo from the Halifax Harriers Summer Handicap 10K (taken by Michael King)

The next couple of days would become a struggle – a 10K at slower pace lapping around my local park became a 5K, as I just couldn’t really get going on my race legs. I felt it better then to save myself for the run commute the day after. This was to be an 8 mile run from getting the bus to Farnley, and running down Tong Lane and up to Odsal Top for my bus home. I planned to run the first 4 miles steady (7:30 mile pace) and then faster, if not necessarily threshold, for the remainder. It went well to begin with, but upon reaching the latter part of the run I just couldn’t get up to any sort of level I wanted, and I ended up running closer to 8 minute mile pace. To compound things, I took a wrong turn at one of the subways for the Bradford Ring Road, and this wound up adding a mile to my run. By the time I reached Odsal Top, I was run walking. I was exhausted. I finished the run, but I knew there and then it was time to rest. I actually felt like I’d been beaten up and mugged, except the assailant was the sun and its accomplice,

Recharged, Sunday was to be a 15 mile trail run reaching up into Halifax and beyond, taking in Beacon Hill, a magnificent viewpoint from which you can overlook the town, and parts of rural Boothtown, a suburb of Halifax. First though, was to navigate the woodlands and country roads connecting Brighouse with Southowram. The shades I was wearing didn’t help as I sought to run downhill through some woodland – the sun wasn’t fully up yet, and under the leafy covering it was difficult to see. I struggled a little up the steep hills and then had problems with my GPS, which seemed to be taking me a different way to the route I intended. When I thought I had got on course, I came out onto the main road to be greeted by these bollards wrapped in police colours, and some sort of a grid up ahead. Unsure, I took a half step forward and suddenly, sirens seemed to blare from everywhere. A muffled voice came out from this apparent secure area (not very secure as the gate I bypassed to get onto the road was easily passable), and unsure whether in live conversation or receiving an automated warning, I got out of there, and quite annoyingly, ended up back where I should have been expecting to end up all along. That wasted so much of my time, I wound up cutting a couple of miles off my route so I could get home in time to ensure my wife got a lie in from the kids. I started to get some jip from my right foot again as well, after coming down from Beacon Hill. I did at least learn a few new trails and wound up clocking 12.5 miles in the end.

Panoramic photo taken from Beacon Hill, Halifax, 01/07/2018

The next week had the small matter of England playing a last 16 match in the World Cup against Colombia, roughly about when I’d be training with my club. I suspect I wasn’t the only one who rejigged their plans. I did a 5 mile dash from Leeds, to Armley, and back into Leeds again instead, hastily going back into the city for my bus home. It was all worth it in the end, wasn’t it? And Thursday featured another run commute which went slightly awry when I got off a few stops too early. I ran an extra 1.5 miles that day, the last four attempting threshold pace. I struggled a bit around the hills of Roberttown and Hartshead, but in the end still had a fairly solid run, better than some of my more recent slow/fast run commute attempts. A steady 15 miles on the canal out and back rounded off my second week, nailing consistent pace all the way along the route.

I’ll have one more training diary entry coming up, hopefully before I depart for Munich, where I should be able to present my kit to you all (more about that rigmarole soon), and detail my final preparations. Tschüss!