At the start of March I felt more than sorry for myself. After suffering cracked ribs and contracting pneumonia I knew that I had to give my body some time to heal otherwise I was going to cause myself some serious injury. I visited my Osteopath (http://www.wsqo.co.uk/) who checked over my ribs and confirmed that they were healing and that there was no reason why, after two to three weeks off, I couldn’t start training again as long as I took it easy.
I had a look at races close by at the beginning of April and the most feasible was the Lancaster Three Bridges on 1st April. I told my wife who probably thought I was mental but agreed to drive me to the event so I booked it before I managed to talk myself out of it. There was much trepidation in the lead up to the event but I knew that at some point I would have to attempt to get out and train again. A quick scales weigh in confirmed the worst in that I had gained half a stone, I thought to myself that if I can gain half a stone after only stopping training for three weeks then I really needed to get back into it before I gained anymore. However, I did think back on it as I was writing this post and remembered that I was eating a lot of comfort food as I was feeling sorry for myself so it was probably all my own fault really.
My first training run back was on 18th March and I’d worked out a course to take me just over 6 mile that worked in a few hills. I wasn’t aiming for a specific time more just to see if I could go the distance but I was pleasantly surprised all in all.
The first two miles were a bit gruelling and part of me considered jacking it in and heading back home but I managed to zone myself out and push on. This was also the first run I’d taken where I listened to music instead of podcasts, it was an inspired change I feel as it seemed to push me on and certain songs such as Andrew WK’s Party Hard (http://andrewwk.com/) certainly seemed to get the legs pumping. I was more than happy to come in under the hour and it definitely gave me an idea of where I was at fitness wise.
The second training run was on the 28th March and went even better:
I felt fit and felt like I had more in the tank so I was more than ready for The Lancaster Three Bridges on Sunday 1st April.
On the drive to Lancaster I suddenly felt nervous, my mind went back to the last race I had completed in Blackpool and how much pain I was in and how much I suffered afterwards. Luckily by the time we arrived at Salt Ayre sports centre the nerves seemed to disappear. I had a plan of attack, something I’d never really done before in a race, I was going to let the majority of runners past me then I was going to find someone who was running at my normal pace and stick to them like glue. The race itself started well and my plan appeared to be working, I’d taken it fairly easy for the first mile and then I ended up run side by side with a woman who was doing a pretty similar pace to me and showed no sign of speeding up or slowing down. At around the 3 mile mark there were 32 steps that needed to be climbed before the race could continue on flat terrain again. As I had never contended with steps before I wasn’t sure how to take them, some were walking up them step by step, some were taking it 2 to 3 steps at a time and some were part running and part walking. I decided that the best course of action for me was to take them 2 to 3 steps at a time, I’m not sure this was the ideal thing to do as I reached the top with a bit of a dull pain in my stomach but it’s certainly something I will look at training for if I do a race like this again. Come the 4 mile mark I felt strong and had no doubt that I would last the course I was still stuck like glue to my chosen running partner and a quick check of the watch said that I was doing around 9 minute miles. When we got to the 5th mile the woman I was running next to started to slow down and I made the choice then to pull ahead and hit the last mile strong. Coming up to the finish line and I could feel someone breathing on my neck and I could hear their feet as I hit the floor, I knew they were close but I was getting a bit stubborn at this point and thought to myself that there was no way that someone would be passing me with 200 yards to go. I had enough in the tank to power on and leave my pursuant behind and I surprised myself by how much I did have left as I crossed the line I was given my medal and my time:
Position-185 Time-56:04 Steven Claringbold
After crossing the line I turned around to find out that the person chasing me was the woman who I had ran side by side with for most of the race. We shook hands but I could tell that she was more than a little upset and my wife said afterwards that she was going for it and then some as she tried to beat me to the finish line. The photos that my wife took as I was coming to the finish line confirmed two things:
1. She really, really wanted to beat me and
2. I was fat.
I was happy to post a time of 56 minutes, this had been the quickest time I’d done a 10k so far. I was back in the game, I’d posted a personal best and all after the health problems I’d started the year with. I was relatively fit but I was about to get even fitter as a phone call on my return from the race was about to yield a surprise that would take my running to the next level.