Well, I didn’t expect to be writing this race report before the end of the “year from hell”. I think everyone can honestly say they will be glad to see the back of 2020. I more than most after both the cancer and heart issues. While you may think I put on a brave front, trust me, this year hasn’t been easy! If it wasn’t for my amazing supportive girls I would have crumbled. I know neither issue is fixed but both have endgames, it’s a case of staying fit till then.
Since I started running back in October, Jo (my coach) and I have approached speed work with caution. Slowly increasing pace/intensity and it wasn’t till late November that I did any proper stuff. Since then I’ve always held back and not pushed it. Last thing I wanted was to spend Christmas in hospital. However, one thing I had looked at doing was the local and popular Sheffield Santa races. For a few years the team behind it have put on some really good events but for one reason or another I’ve never managed to attend one. However, Darren one of the organisers was having as much luck as me with his own serious health battles. But how he has faced it over 2020 has been so helpful in my own battle and I can’t say enough talking with him via Facebook and seeing his updates has personally been so inspiring. Now Darren if you are reading this, then want to say thank you for being one of the few lights in a very dark year in my life!
This meant doing their race was my number 1 target. I just wanted to finish it. I opted for the 5K as it was just enough for me in terms of distance. I know me and despite all the will in the world if the gun goes I will always give 110% even if it kills me. This year they put on 6 races over 3 times, 11:00am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm. I opted for the 2:00pm one, firstly wanted to avoid any traffic for Meadowhall, plus it was my wife’s first day off in months, having worked all but 5 days in 2020 she needed a lay-in. Going into it based on what I had been doing in training, my own personal target was a sub 20 time.
After arriving mega early (1pm) I finally got to meet Darren in person. Now with Covid the most we could do was chat at a distance but when it’s back to normal I want to sit down and share a drink with him. I also got to speak to Terry Forrest (funny story we both get mistaken for each other as we sometimes have very similar haircuts, however he is a class runner) was great to finally have a decent chat with him. He had already won the earlier 10K and had also then gone back out and run the 5K, he then volunteered for the next race and was the turn around marker at 2.5K.
I kept going back to check on the girls who opted to stay in the warmth of the car, I then did a warm up with Tom who was another runner who has had his own issues. He had also raced the 10K earlier and was doing the 10K again at 2pm. We did a good warm up and we had a really good chat about our own personal health issues. Was good to chat to someone who you could relate to. As people began to line up everyone kept social distance and I was on the start line with Leo who I had done some track racing with. He listened to my advice from back in February when I said if you want to improve as a runner stick with Pete Brown and Mike Theobald. He has and has gone from a 22 minute 5K runner and his aim was sub 19 or quicker. I said it was his race to win. I had already decided he was the one to beat so I let him set the pace and stick with him early on.
After Mel had gone through the pre-race briefing, it was go time. As I expected Leo was out quick and I opted to stick to his right shoulder. Letting him set the early pace. I could hear Tom behind me said, ooh too fast. I felt OK, my heart rate was comfortable, so just let me legs control the pace. I could feel that Leo was working hard and as we hit the 1st K I passed him and slotted in front and then pulled away and could hear those behind me getting further back. The first K was covered in 3:31. As I was now on my own the pace slowed a little but I was running purely on effort and knew it was quick so just focused on staying in the lead till half way point.
The next two K were in early 3:40’s, I hit the dead turn and could see I had a decent lead. I also knew it was faster on the way back so I used the turning point to catch my breath and focused on pushing hard. I was in the zone where you are scared to death you are going to get caught but also at the same time buzzing as you know the race is yours to lose. I passed runners coming the opposite way and smiled, acknowledge them as best I could passing walkers etc. I was flying and running faster than at podium 5K with my pace getting quicker the closer I got to the finish. As soon as I could see the Travelodge, I kicked and waited till I crossed the line to celebrate. And boy did I, I shouted YES! hands up. Those there could see how much that meant. I looked for wife would looked worried. It turned out the car battery had gone flat!. Last time that happened was when I had my heart attack.
Bloody typical. Anyway I was presented with my trophy and medal. But turned down the bucks fizz. I was buzzing as I got a photo with Daz. Again it made my day to get a win at his event. Yes I know it was only a local race but for me it’s up there along with my other major wins due to what’s happened this year.
After a few photos and chat to Leo who came in around 30s after me. I managed to find someone with some jump leads and got the car going again. After saying my thanks and goodbyes we headed home, only to get a flat on the M1. Another stop and another fix we got home and even the car issues couldn’t wipe the smile of my face. Everyone who was there helped make this a Christmas Eve to remember. I can now look forward to 2021 and hopefully achieving some personal goals.
To finish off I texted Jo who was over the moon with the result and my time, shows making the decision to team up in May was a very smart choice!