The last few weeks, it seems to have rained incessantly and the high winds have been a constant feature in the majority of my runs. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise to have Thursday’s club run in almost perfect conditions. There was a big turnout of 30 runners for the session; it was good to see.
Tonight’s run was up Kingstown with laps of the industrial estate up there. The long drag up Scotland Road was as arduous as ever – the climb up Stanwix Bank is energy sapping. I felt pretty good and managed to keep to a decent-for-me pace. As we reached Kingstown, I managed two full laps of the estate. This involves running past McDonald’s twice. Unusually, there was no heckling and no cries of ‘Run, Forrest’ from those inside. It’s usually a dead certainty that you’ll get some clever comment ‘Knees up’ from someone.
As we headed back down Scotland Road, my legs were beginning to feel heavy, especially as we ran back up Stanwix. However, I kept plugging away. It’s so much easier to dig in and keep going when you’re surrounded by other runners. It almost seems like you can draw on their strength, find something deep inside yourself that enables you to keep going. If I was on my own it would be all too easy to stop when it starts hurting!
I managed 7.3 miles in 59:56, which gives an average pace of 8’15 min/mile. I’m very happy with that effort as I’m getting closer to the 8’00 min/mile pace that I’d love to achieve over these distances.
On Sunday, 12th January, I headed out to Carlisle to meet with Ali and get our longest run of the year so far in. It was cold, very cold and so we wrapped up well. We headed up London Road, always a long drag up there, and turned off on to Cumwhinton Road. More hills were waiting as we made the climb up into Cumwhinton. This is part of the Cumbrian Run route and these hills never get easier! As we hit the smaller country roads, the ice became a real problem. I think there were several occasions where we found ourselves stranded in the middle of a sheet of ice and had to take tentative steps off. On some occasions, we failed to stop ourselves and had to make daring leaps into the verge in order to remain up right. Miles 8 and 9 were the most problematic and our pace dropped off. Packing our ice skates would have been a good idea!
As we headed back into town and hit the paths, the ice was less of an issue and so we were able to pick up the pace again. We kept to a comfortable, steady pace as this is part of Ali’s training for the Virgin London Marathon in April.
We neared Ali’s house and stopped our Garmin’s at 14.2 miles. The furthest run so far this year and we both felt comfortable afterwards. We did it in 2 hours 17 minutes, giving an average pace of 9’42 min/mile. It’s a good confidence booster to be able to do a distance like that so early in the year. Indeed, I haven’t run more than half marathon distance since my marathon last July!
As thoughts turn to my running plans for the year, I’m still undecided as to which direction to go in. Do I do another marathon or make this the year where I attempt to get a new 10k PB? I also want to do more fell / trail running. Hmmm, decisions, decision. Do I focus on going long, or short and sweet?
What are your running plans for the year ahead?