When is a race not a race? Well until Sunday I’ve never not raced a race if that makes sense? What I mean is if I enter a race then I give it 110% and finish knowing that I had given it everything. Well that all changed Sunday. As I entered at the last minute (aka 7pm the night before) the Yorkshire Chocathon. I knew a friend was coming up for the weekend to do both events organised by the Saxon, Vikings and Normans team. (They specialise in marathons, and timed events, usually based down south, they ventured up here for first time in 2018 and this year are up for 3 weekends putting on 6 events) and wanted to go support him, I originally planned on running up and joining him. Then I got hit with a cold so didn’t run rest of last week, then on Saturday found out two others I knew from Twitter were also doing it. In end I signed up.
However I spoke to the wife who knows me better than I know myself and we agreed I wasn’t to race it. Now that’s like asking the pope not to pray and had I not been ill all week or not had 6 months off I might have stupidly raced it. Instead I said I would run it at my normal easy pace. With aim to do at least 2 laps. Sarah was worried I would end up doing the marathon distance and I would be telling a lie if I didn’t say the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but she is my rock as as I said knows me best and always has my best interests at heart, i’d be lost without her. The next morning I was picked up by Rach aka MuddyVee who despite only living 2 mins from me I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but a car journey soon broke the ice and as we arrived we found the 4th member of the part Ant aka AntRuns then the person I had originally planned to meet Darren aka RunnersKnees who was in the middle of the weekend from hell (read his story here) who was sick and now not running. We did all have a good catch up and this was something I don’t do at races as I’m not a very social person at races as focused on goals etc but this was different and it meant my mindset was different and I had never felt more chilled before a race.
So Ant and Rach planned to do a marathon, Darren would see us off then set off home. So I decided to aim for 3 laps and see how things went. The race director chatted to me and I explained it was my usual long run route so he introduced me to a few of the last lads who were doing a marathon. I asked them their target pace. So agreed to show them the route as my pace was going to be the same. So we set off and it felt strange to set off running down the trail to Oxspring with a race number on but not blowing out my ass. I was running along having a good chat to those who came with me. (The route was a 6.55 mile loop, down to Oxspring, turn around at the gate, then up past start/finish to the next gate the other side of Penistone and back down again). it was downhill to Oxspring and I had to slow down as was running 6:30 pace way faster then planned and so I took my foot of the gas and the first mile soon passed in 6:52. By now I only had one person with me and they seemed happy with pace so we carried on running down the trail together as we ran past dog walkers and those doing their Sunday long run. I was laughing at myself thinking I was racing on my home patch, it felt strange having my number on.
I was glad to not be hammering it as could feel body working slightly harder then usual due to the effects of the cold but good news is it was first time I’ve managed to get a cold and not get a chest infection since I took up running so finally learnt to stop running for a few days and let nature take its cause and a break sometimes is a blessing in disguise. So mile two passed in 6:55 and still felt easy then as we came to the turn around point, bang the wind hit you. It’s always the case on the TPT you get wind heading up hill. I ran to feel as we headed back. This was fun as I was passing runners coming other way so loads of well done comments etc which was nice. It allowed me to plan the rest of the first lap. I would keep it easy going all way back up to the next turn around point as the wind meant I would have to work a little bit harder going up the trail. Everyone always says it does not feel up hill till you turn around and this was the case as I hit the top turn around point. The miles going up had been 6:58 (including final bit of the downhill section) 7:12 and 7:07. Then it was back down again to the start/finish point. I was soon running sub 7:00 again with less effort. After each lap you had to have a tag punched to keep track of your laps, so it was up the steps to the centre. I then had to visit the toilet and was in for 5 minutes (stomach issues).
Once sorted I quickly asked how many people had gone back out. He told me two women and two men. So for lap two it gave me something to chase. I flew down the trail chasing those in front, it was damn fun as I caught sight of them within a few minutes. I caught up with two East Hull runners by the turn around point and decided to stay with them for a bit, I chatted to them and then wished them well and set off again. The wind had picked up so again going back up I simply kept my training pace. I saw Rach and Ant on way back up all shared a high 5. Then as I hit the 12th mile I saw my next target and picked up pace and caught up with the first lady who was flying after the next turn around point. I then picked up pace again going back down the trail. I came in for my card to be punched, I decided to call it a day after two laps and not risk making myself ill again So I was declared winner of the half marathon distance. This was a massive shock especially as I never raced it and while yes I chased down a few people all those i’d catch went on to do the marathon plus my average pace was a steady training pace. I got the biggest medal EVER and a massive bar of galaxy and a bag of chocolate. The only downside is as I had not treated it as a race, the family had gone shopping so felt weird not having anyone there at the end.
After saying my goodbyes I was picked up by family and headed home. I ended up loving the event and now decided I will do more of their races in future but again treat them as training runs. The next one is in May and is the punk run, which is right up my street. It’s week before Chester HM so plan will be a lap easy and a lap at HM pace I think that’s 8 weeks away so plenty of time to come up with a plan. It was a great weekend to meet friends in person and something I will aim to do more of in the future and also made me think about combining these types of events with long runs. Firstly means I can be more social, I collect awesome bling, helps me get a long run that’s a little different.
So after writing off the week, I ended up with a medal and my first “win” of 2019 both very unexpected 🙂
- Position: 1st
- Time: 1:38:55
- Strava Record: click here
- Kit Used: Xempo Vest, Adidas Base Layer, Arsuxeo 2in1 shorts, Sockimine Black Griplock Lightweight socks and ND:R Sunglasses