This Sunday was my annual pilgrimage to woodbank park to take part in the Stockport 10 mile road race.
For those that know me I never hide my love for this race, it was my first ever event and this year will be my fourth visit, Its a real end of season test and usually is a good indication on what i can achieve in the coming spring.
Each previous effort has been faster than the year before and last year’s 63 minutes dead was going to take some beating especially as I hadn’t ran 10 miles in either racing or training since October!
For those of you who have never heard of the Stockport 10 ( if you live in the north of England you are missing a treat!) This year’s race t shirt sums it up pretty well
It is however one of the best organised races I do each year ,the organisation from Stockport harriers is in my opinion spot on . The Facebook and email posts on the way up to the event are always entertaining and the race doesn’t take it self too seriously .
Twenty of my clubmates also did the event and unlike a normal race day meeting I disappeared to warm-up alone ,headphones in to get myself psyched up,I felt a little bit of a git but sometimes you need every advantage you can get . I was still riding a little bit of a high from last weeks 10k in Wilmslow and was chomping at the bit to get going !
Standing on the start line i was more than ready to go,and before i knew it the gun went and off we shot! the first few miles are fairly flat with a lap of the track and surrounding park before hitting the mean streets of Stockport.
My goal was to keep around a 6.10 min/mile average for as long as possible,first mile however beeped on my watch as 5.52! i knew i had got caught in the adrenaline of everyone around me but i was in a pack now and committed.
The course itself isn’t particularly scenic,a lot is housing estates and at around 2.5 miles there is a little out and back ,this is where i spotted my teammate Neal right up with the leading pack and running like a Gazelle!! (He went on to finish twelfth!!)
Like i said the course isn’t flat but today it sure felt fast! the first hill comes around mile 4 and the first year i did this my mate Rob ran me round but had to wait while i took a walk break up here,this year however i glided up barely even noticing the bump that was in my way of my PB.
The next hill however was a different story and my least favourite part every single year,its a mile in length and just as you think you hit the top you take a sharp left and have another couple of hundred metres before it flattens out again. I knew at the top of that climb i had thrown too much in to it and my legs were screaming,but if i hung on i had a nice descent and farmers trail to recover on very shortly.
This year however the lovely farmers track had been turned into an impromptu XC course! now i love XC as much as the next guy but not when i’m 7.5 miles into a road 10 miler! my shoes just couldn’t grip and myself plus my group slipped and skated our way across losing time and more importantly energy! (Just to add this isn’t the organisers fault but more due to the vast amounts of rain we have had the last few weeks).
The final sting comes at mile 9 and looking at my watch i knew time was slipping away from me and i just had nothing left (mention New Zealand road to Stockport runners and watch them shudder!).
I threw everything at that hill,everything, I saw stars ,Jesus, Zippy from rainbow,The cast from red dwarf, and Santa ,i barely had enough energy to stay upright never mind run!
Entering the park i was greeted by my ever suffering Wife and her camera (her work can be seen here).
I didnt even have the energy to wave ,i only had one goal in mind,the finish line and sub 63 minutes.
Finishing on the track i could see the finish but the final 300 metres may of been 30 miles the way i was feeling and by now i was sure i was going to break my streak.
100 metres to go i threw everything i had left at the finish ,i could feel my lungs and legs screaming and the undeniable feeling of just about to exit the building.
I dipped over the finish and promptly emptied my stomach all over the side of the track much to the disgust of the spectators !
Race crew ran over to make sure i was ok but all i was interested in was my finish time as during my classy finish i forgot to stop the Garmin!!!
Usually the results are pretty quick but today it felt like forever,i was constantly checking emails and websites and then finally…………
It was close but i had done it ! i’m not sure how long this streak will last but ill be lining back up next year and every year after that for as long as i can run !