Actually, that should be thank you Jolyon Attwooll, my Telegraph running buddy. I can definitely say if it wasn’t for him I would not have achieved my two goals. To run a 10k without involving any walking for the first time after nine previous unsuccessful attempts and to do it in under an hour, we did 56 minutes and 44 seconds to be precise. I have completed a couple of 10ks quicker than that but they still involved some walking.
I arrived in Sheffield on Saturday evening without any major dramas, everything went according to plan. My hotel room was very pleasant and the restaurant staff very attentive. They seemed to think they’d kept me waiting for my nibbles and so offered me a complimentary Bellini – really, the night before a race, don’t think so!! I know it would have contained one of my five a day but I still had to turn it down. I didn’t even think they’d kept me waiting but anyway…
Most runners I know seem to suffer from a bad night’s sleep before a race, those nerves getting in the way, and I was no different. Although not just battling against pre race nerves and sleeping in a strange place, I also had to contend with my proximity to the lift shaft with lifts going up and down all night and being woken at 1.00 am by a stag party playing a drum in the ironically named Peace Gardens outside my window!!! This did not auger well for a refreshed runner getting to the start line.
I have to say it made a change getting ready for a race in my hotel room and then having a short walk to the start line. I didn’t even have to look after my valuables and my jacket, the logistics woman at the race on behalf of the Telegraph looked after my “stuff” during the race – I could get used to that!
While we were waiting in the hotel, Jolyon offered to run with me and get me around the course. I initially declined as I didn’t want to die – his projected finish time was 36 minutes and as all runners know, you’re always after a PB. But Jolyon hadn’t run for over three weeks and offered to sacrifice his race to help me with mine so I gratefully but hesitantly accepted.
The course description is as follows “The course begins with a city centre start heading out down the fast and flat Penistone Road, underneath the South stand of Hillsborough Stadium – home to Sheffield Wednesday FC – and back down the other side of Penistone Road returning to a cracking city centre finish”. Hmmm, the clue is there is one little word “down”. I have no problems with the flat Penistone Road part, that was true, the middle 7k were flat and the first 1500m were great, all down hill and we did the first kilometre in 5’ 15”, I usually manage that in around 6’. But as everyone realises, especially with an out and back course, where there’s a “down” there’s always an “up” – in this case three of them. We were obviously aware of this from the outset and knew we’d have to keep something in reserve, well I would, Jolyon could probably have done it in his sleep!
I was okay until we got passed the 6k marker and then asked if we could slow the pace down a little, in fact I did that at 7k and 8k but apparently Jolyon says I didn’t slow down. This doesn’t surprise me in the least, I seem to have problems slowing down. Its either full steam ahead or walk – maybe that’s my problem. We get just passed 8k and we can see people ahead turning right and starting up the first hill and so we follow and that hill’s tough. Then the course turns and flattens out but we still haven’t passed the 9k marker. By the time we get to that point we’re on Snig Hill (should probably be rechristened “Smug Hill”) and after that, it’s just hell. I felt sick on a couple of occasions and it really was only Jolyon’s encouragement and not wanting him to have wasted his sacrifice that got me over that finish line without walking. So, my hero!
Throughout the run, he asked me how I was feeling, pointed out the people we were passing who had started in the wave in front of us, he even ran in front of me on a couple of occasions to give me a break from the wind. A true gent!
After I’d got my breath back, we did a short piece to video camera for the Telegraph and then made haste to get the train back to London. So all in all, I was only in Sheffield for 18 hours but they were 18 productive and “enjoyable” hours.
So what’s next, well next weekend is the Givaudan Ashford 10k when I’ll be desperately trying to replicate my recent performance. I shall have to imagine Jolyon is on my shoulder and I do at least have the benefit of knowing this course, where the inclines are in the middle of the run and the last 1500m or so is flat!
And as I was so successful in the Telegraph’s prize draw, I’ve entered another two today. The first was through completing a post race survey for BUPA to run the Great Yorkshire again next year. The second was a Parkrun/Adidas prize draw to win a place in next year’s Virgin London Marathon – ooops!!
And below is a little snippet from the pre and post race interview!