Midland 6 Stage Relays at Sutton Park

The Midland 6 Stage Relays at Sutton Park is a great event which is always a pleasure to take part in and after a surprise selection for the Notts A team I was keen to have a good run out.  I'd been given the duty of racing the third relay leg and with the race starting at 1:30pm I made sure to leave plenty of time to get over to Sutton Coldfield from Leicester so I could see the lead legs go and to also run a decent warm up before taking my place at the change over point.  Unfortunately I hadn't allowed for the unexpected delay in getting into the car park itself.  After crawling in traffic over the final half a mile in roughly the same amount of time it had taken me to travel over from home meant I missed the start of the race and gradually had to get changed in my car whilst in stationary traffic.  This scuppered my plan of a decent warm up and eventually got to the start line far more stressed out than I would have liked to have been!

The distance of each leg is 5.88km with a long gradual climb just after a fairly fast downhill section at the start before leveling off at the top of the park to run down and back up from a turnaround point.  This is psychologically tough as you can see the guys in front already coming back up towards you before you even reached the cone! This then leads into a fairly long downhill stretch which I was hoping to pick up a decent pace but my legs were screaming at me at this point and no matter how much I was trying to push on my legs just didn't respond!  An undulating final 500m or so is what greets you at the bottom of the hill before an uphill finish to hand over to your team mate.

I had mixed feelings after reflecting back on how I'd ran on the day as after taking over in 10th place I'd managed to claw back three places to get the team into 7th position but ran 19:00 for my leg.  With the rest of the guys in the team running well it meant that if I had ran a few seconds quicker it could have made the difference for the remaining three runners to chase down the teams in front.  As it happened the team eventually finished a frustrating 4th place and just outside the medals.
 
With the National 6 Stage Relays fast approaching on October 6th and the return of the big guns for the A team I'll be running in the B team but at least I have a target to beat now and I'm hoping to post a time in the 18's on the day!  The photo above is of the final bend before entering the uphill finish.
 

Robin Hood Half Marathon - incorporating the England Half Marathon Championship

The Robin Hood Half Marathon is an event that holds special memories for me as four years ago it was my target race for "Operation Sub 75" when I achieved the qualifying time for my first Championship entry for the London marathon.  For the 2018 race I was fortunate enough to be given an "elite entry" due to my sub 70 minute result from The Big Half in March earlier this year.  What I hadn't realised until a few weeks before was that this years race also incorporated the England Athletics Half Marathon Championships. 

With Peterborough being my A race for the Autumn, the Robin Hood half was planned as a comfortably hard long training run but after learning of the EA Half Marathon Championships it left me with a running conundrum!  Right up until the second the start gun was fired I still hadn't fully committed to a race plan of either the original plan of hard long run or go with the race and see what happens.  As it turned out a 5:12 first mile meant the decision had been made to go with the race.  By this point though the front two of Chris Rainsford and Alistair Watson had already pulled away with ease (that's not to be unexpected though!) and I found myself running on my own. 

It wasn't until after the cutback point between miles 8-9 that I realised there was a significant gap between myself and Kristian Watson in 4th.  However, I managed to keep the effort levels fairly constant to cross the line in in 3rd with a time 1:11:22 and claim an England Athletics bronze medal. 

Harder than I'd planned to run, with the vast majority being solo running, but a big confidence boost going to Peterborough.  There's a stronger field racing at Peterborough so I'll be hoping for some company and work with a pack of runners of the similar pace to run a fast time over a fast course.  With the added incentive of being part of the Midlands team I'm looking forward to going there with all guns blazing!