2011 – The emergence of The Cat

After a successful 2010 it was time to see what 2011 could bring running wise. Things were good at home, The Joshua had just turned two and was really starting to come into his own as a little dude. The Christmas period wasn’t the best as it mainly consisted of frozen pipes and no water for upwards of three weeks. There was a lot of illness going around The Claringbold household during this period which carried on well into the new year and meant that my plan to carry on my running and fitness training during the winter died a death between November and February.

Once the worst of the succession of illnesses was behind me come late February it was time to really start thinking about what runs to enter that year. After a chance conversation with an old school friend, who was getting into running around this time to up his fitness, we both decided that The Bupa Manchester Great Run in May was the way forward, so after both signing up it was then time to put the miles in again. But first I had to go and see the wrestling with my friend Mike (mainly mentioned just to get this random photo in that still makes me laugh).

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Having done a couple of 10k’s up to this point I was fairly confident of a decent time and during training runs I was coming in between 57 and 58 minutes on a regular basis. What I hadn’t factored in was the sheer number of people that take part in this race and the amount of bodies that you have to manoeuvre around during the journey from beginning to end. The first 4 kilometres for me were a bit of a nightmare as I just couldn’t get past anyone, I would go so far as to say it was my slowest start to a race up to that point. I knew that my time wasn’t going to be the best but it was all about finishing strong towards the end. Upon clocking the 8k I knew I was going to be well over the hour, I’d worked out that at my current pace I would be lucky to finish at 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was time to get a bit nasty and selfish and run my own race instead of worrying about people around me. The last 2k was all about pushing my way through the throng of people and finishing the best I could. When I saw the 400 metre to the finish mark I knew I had enough left in the tank to sprint to the end which was appreciated by the crowd that had gathered at the finish line as some started to shout my name (which was printed on the front of the bib). Strangers shouting “Go on Steve” really did make my day and made the race feel that little bit special. An hour after the race the results were posted and although I hadn’t come in under the hour (which I’d expected) I knew I had a target to beat for next year and a few ideas on how to get around crowding issue:

Steven Claringbold  Bib No. 13198  Position No. 18630  Time. 01:03:04

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Overall I was happy with the race and Grahamo (The Cat) was happy with his time as well. The decision was made to kick on and step up to a half marathon, The Blackpool half marathon was taking place in September and the race was on (pardon the pun) to get the training miles in for it. Being used to running 10k’s I was a little concerned about stepping up to double that but I thought that if I was careful about it and bumped it up by a mile a week then it shouldn’t be an issue. Come July the weather in the area was fantastic, the sun was bearing down most days and I was trying to get in about 25 mile a week while listening to the recent podcast acquisition of http://thedoctorwhopodcast.com/ which was great for zoning out while the sweat poured down. I felt the best I had felt for a number of years, I was fit and the weight loss had been maintained there was no reason why I couldn’t do a half marathon.

Upon the day of The Blackpool Half Marathon (http://www.fyldecoastrunning.org/) I was confident of posting a time of around 2 and ½ hours. I’d taken into account that it takes me around an hour to finish a 10k so it would take me double that to finish a half marathon and then added in an extra ½ for tiredness, it gave me a target to go for at the very least.

As a timing marker I’d decided to listen to The Art of Wrestling Podcast (http://tsmradio.com/coltcabana/) all episodes came in at around an hour so I was working on the basis that I would listen to 2 episodes and then work out where I was at mileage wise at the end of the second one. I felt comfortable throughout the race and there was never a danger that I would stop and walk which was an initial worry. I was confident that I had enough in me to get in under 2 hours 30 and upon finishing I was told that I’d finished around 2:30 dead on. It was evident upon finishing that my top was covered in blood, for the first time since I’d started running my nipples had split open, this was an issue that I needed to make sure didn’t happen again as during the run I didn’t notice it but as soon as I finished they were stinging like mad. The next day the results were posted and I’d come in at just under 2 minutes ahead of my target time:

Claringbold Steven  Position Number 377 Bib Number 390 Race Time 02:28:08

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For my first half marathon it was all about finishing and using that as a benchmark for future half marathons, now I had a time to beat.

Next up was The West Cumbrian Run, The Carlisle 10k and The Cumbrian Run and I was looking forward to, and confident for, the races. Unfortunately fate conspired against me for them all, The West Cumbrian run was cancelled, The Carlisle 10k never materialised (and appears to be dead in the water) and I ended up having to work a night shift the day before The Cumbrian Run making it impossible to run it on the lack of sleep I would’ve had to endure. My running season was over and I’d only managed to get two races in this year, it was disappointing as I had planned to do about 5 but 2012 was upon me and I felt fit and happy. My training was continuing into December and the plan was to race the Winter version of The Blackpool Half Marathon in February 2012.

Little did I know that 2012 was about to become my most difficult year yet as a runner. Presenting challenges that I may never recover from and hurdles that had to be overcome if I was to carry on.

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