This blog covers my double header weekend of the Blackpool Stanley Park 10k on the Saturday and the Warrington Winter Track Team Marathon on the Sunday.
Seeing as both runs featured a track the song choice to accompany this blog is Belle & Sebastian’s “The Stars of Track and Field”:
Widnes is famous in music with the Stone Roses Spike Island gig going down in baggy folklore, Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” was wrote on Widnes Railway Station and Widnes actually gets a mention in “The Stars of Track & Field”.
Widnes also gets mentioned in lots of other popular songs like: KLF’s “Its Grim up North”, David Brent’s “Life on the Road”, Elvis Costello’s “Watch Your Step” and of course in Black Grape’s “Reverend Black Grape” and in Marvin Gaye’s “Can I get to Widnes?”.
Saturday – Blackpool Stanley Park 10k
Saturday’s race was a tough day at the office. I had one of those days where my lungs just did not want to work. On the Friday night I went to a gig again this time to see Man and the Echo (who are a wonderful witty indie power pop band from Warrington, they feature in my blog “Distance Runner”). Though I drove there and back and stayed sober (I learned my lesson from “Young Dumb and Full of Cabbage”) it was still a relatively late night getting back – especially after dropping off my pissed brother and his pissed mates outside Tony Meloni’s Sambuca bar. That drive back from Manchester was fun, cheers David & the Todds.
I didn’t have the best night’s sleep on the Friday night (having a piece of pizza at midnight just before bed didn’t help) and I woke up around 4am looking for my inhaler as my chest was pretty bad and I was struggling with my breathing. I then struggled to get any more sleep before my alarm went off at 7.30 and I got up to eat some breakfast and get my stuff together (I didn’t have the time on the previous night as I was out at the gig).
So not the best preparation as I headed out to meet my running buddy Stu and the East Lancs Road for the trip up to Blackpool (I am allowed to say you ran the race now aren’t I Stu?).
We got there with plenty of time before the race which gave time for race number collection, PRP, and a warm up lap.
Race HQ was at Stanley Park Leisure Centre in Blackpool, and the course was a 2 lap route starting with a lap of the athletics track, then heading round the outside of the park, back through the park round some boating lakes and ponds, and back around for a lap of the track. Then repeating all this and with a nice fast finish on the track.
I had planned on a sub 47 minute 10K for this race. There’s absolutely no reason why I should not be doing this at this stage of my training. In fact I got a 46.45 in the same race last year, so I set the pace on my Garmin for between 4.35 and 4.40 min/km. After the first kilometre is became quickly apparent that this was not going to happen for me today. The remnants of storm Doris was still knocking around in Blackpool, and the wind was pretty blustery. Not only that but I was wheezing and panting and struggling to get my breath. I was feeling that bad that for a brief moment I had contemplated stopping for a DNF. Instead I just slowed my pace right down, took on some inhaler and stuck with the race going ad a slow 5 min/km (ish) for the rest of the race.
I did have a bit left for the last kilometre so pushed it as hard as I could in the track for the last bit of the race coming in at 48.30 (for a course my Garmin measured 270m short!). All in all a disappointing time, it was just one of those days I think and I was just glad to of stuck with it and got it over and done with.
Sunday – Warrington Track Marathon
Saturday evening was a bit more chilled out. Kate and I went to Kate’s sisters for a Chinese and to see Kate’s cousin, Ben who was over visiting from New Zealand. Its bit of a shame it was this weekend he was visiting as due to my racing I couldn’t have a few drinks with him. We were back home nice and early on Saturday night, I had a much better sleep and my asthma was much better controlled so I was feeling much better for Sunday’s team track marathon.
The event was held at the Victoria Park track in Warrington. The premise was that in a team (you could participate in a team or individually) you covered 105 and a bit laps of the track between you which is 26.2 miles.
I ran as part of a team with some of the guys from Sweat Fitness. Stu and Helen are regular running buddies, and we roped in Leigh on this one. Both Stu and Leigh are trainers at Sweat, and in the group chat leading up to the event we were talking tactics. Stu had some convoluted plan that I didn’t (and still don’t understand), and we were still undecided till Leigh came up with the ridiculous idea that we take some kettlebells along and do some burpees and some kettlebell squats after each lap (basically we run a lap each then do 10 burpees and 13 goblet squats), which obviously I point blank refused to do.
One the morning of the race we all met up at Sweat for the short journey in to Warrington. Somehow or other Leigh managed to get a 32kg and a 24kg kettlebell in to the back of the car to take to the track with us, and off we went to Warrington.
Once at the event we got ready, had a race briefing on how the event would work, and how the transitions would work, I had a quick PRP, and we headed out to the team transition area to get set up.
I am part of Widnes Running Club, who also had a team in the event. The club had sent the big guns out to get the best possible time, and they and the other teams looked on in some bemusement as Leigh carried the kettlebells from the start to the transition area.
I’m not sure how and when it happened but we agreed to go along with his hair brained scheme. We dropped the burpee’s part of the idea but we stuck with the goblet squats. So basically each team member done a lap, tagged the next person in, then done 13 x goblet squats (Leigh, Stu and I using as 32kg kettlebell, Helen using a 24kg kettlebell).
Anyways, come 1030am it was race time, with Stu leading us off, then tagging in Leigh, followed by me and Helen. It was basically like a maxed out interval session, run 400m as fast as you can, do 13 goblet squats, rest, repeat. 26 times.
I make it sound worse than it was it was actually was. The first five laps or so felt a bit tough, but then once in to my stride and getting used to it, it soon felt ok. About half way through we each done a section doing 2 laps each to allow for toilet breaks, then back to the one lap each.
It started to feel tough about 3/4’s in to the race. It felt like the wind was getting stronger in the home straight with every lapped that passed (whether this was psychological I’m not sure), it was also raining ever so slightly making the kettlebell harder to handle the longer the race went on. It was also hard to keep track of where we were up to. Luckily Helen was around with her whiteboard to keep us on course.
With our lap times dropping off as we were getting through the later laps bit Leigh ran the final bit to get Team Sweat home in 03:01:02. It would have been nice to crack 3 hours, but we’ve still got to be happy with this. We came in 7th overall, and the 4th team on the day. We can safely say that we were the only team that were doing goblet squats after every lap. In total we completed 1310 squats between us, equal to a cumulative weight of 40 tonnes!
On another note the team from Widnes Running Club won the day with a time of 2.40.40, so a great result for the club too.
All in all this was a great event. Really well organised, with good support. The idea of having runners to pick the soundtrack that was played throughout the day was great, and to be able to speak to the same people as the laps ticked by throughout the day was really good. There was a cracking atmosphere at the event and I think we all really enjoyed it, and the medal was great.
We’re already thinking of something bigger and better to up the anti at next year’s event (assuming they hold it again).
Here’s a pic of my medals from the weekend.
Peace and Love.
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