Storming The Castle 10k

Another day, another medal! Today’s bling was provided by the lovely people at the Storming The Castle 10k in Carrickfergus and, as the name suggests, finished at the castle which has made the town famous.

It was also my fourth race in the Novosco Grand Prix series, following on from the Spar Craic, Titanic Quarter and Lisburn events. I’ve got potentially another couple to go – Laganside and Seeley.

Anyway …. today. It was a fantastic. I travelled up with Judith and Aidy, and hung around with another dozen or so from the club before and after the race. It’s always great to get to know everyone that little bit better.

Upon arrivial Judith, Aidy and I went to collect our numbers. Judith was 300, Aidy was 500 ….. and I was 806! Ah well, I’ve always said I’m different!

Moving outside, it was time for the obligatory team picture. I think there was around 15 or so from the club there but despite a couple of pics being taken at different places there was always someone who was missing or had strayed off. Typical, we’re like big kids, it was quite funny really.

The race got underway and I ran with Judith and Aidy … Aidy was doing a great job pacing us both with well chosen words of advice. We started near the back and over the course of the first mile or so picked off a fair few that had been ahead of us.

Things were going great and we were keeping a steady pace. We caught up from Cara, also from the club, and she stayed with us for a while before dropping off.

Unfortunately, around the 4km mark, the fluid in my legs began to burn so I knew I needed a little breather. I was a bit frustrated because the pace was quite comfortable but I had to relieve the pain otherwise it would only have got unbearable.

Cara was just a little bit behind so I fell back to wait for her, and we ran together for the most of the rest of the race. It was good to have the company and the encouragement, which I hope I returned although, as is often the case, too much chatting means I sometimes forget to run!!!

The route follows a large chunk of the coastline which is lovely to run along but, unfortunately, is an out and back up a deceptively steady climb.

As we were running along it seemed the turning point was never going to appear although when it eventually did it was worth the wait because it was marked by a poor bloke dressed up as a traffic cone! How he stuck it in that heat I’ll never know.

Ah yes, the heat. Quite energy sapping despite not really being particularly sunny for the most part, although there were the odd moments when it was. My shirt was soaking wet by the time I’d finished.

The turn for home was most welcome. As always it doesn’t seem quite as long as it did on the way out and it was good, from a selfish point of view, to see a few men behind me still out on the course. I wouldn’t be last man for a change!

One highlight I must mention is the park we ran through with about a kilometre to go (maybe less). We passed through it on the way out and received some very welcome boisterous support from those gathered there. I didn’t really expect them to be still there at the end but they were. It always gives you a little lift. I was most grateful for it so, on the off chance any of you ever read this, thanks and well done!

The finish line was right beside the castle although, to my shame, I didn’t pay attention to it. I was knackered. The heat of the day really took it’s toll but I was content with having given everything I could even if I wasn’t totally pleased with my time.

I’d done well sticking with Judith and Aidy for the first 4km and was somewhat frustrated at the finish, discovering their time and realising it was well within my ability – if only it wasn’t for those damn legs of mine. Maybe I should consider returning to run with compression sleeves again.

The event ‘village’ after the race was superb, probably the best at any local race I’ve been to. It was great to meet up with the rest of the club again, and to help myself to an ample selection of buns, cakes, hot dogs and burgers. I may have over indulged a little!

A great day out all round, and another race I’ll be marking down on my calendar for next year.

Relive my run


parkrun 26.08.17

As they say around these parts sometimes it’s fer ye and sometimes it’s agin ye. Unfortunately today’s parkrun was agin me.

I decided when I woke, quite out of the blue, to pay my local parkrun a visit. It’s only my ninth time running it in over two years as a ‘runner’ but, I think, that because I’ve done nothing since Monday and I have a 10k race tomorrow I needed to get out for a run this morning.

Part of me wonders now if I should have bothered my arse.

The cold hard facts are that it was my fourth slowest, I was last man (excluding the tail runner and walker) and third last overall. I know that shouldn’t matter and it doesn’t really. It’s an annoyance more than anything else.

What does bother me is my performance. I’ve more and more come to the realisation that as long as I’m happy with my run my time will look after itself. Unfortunately my run was a big puddle of pish today.

I suppose the signs were there. Running ever so slightly late I walked the two miles to the ecos Centre far too quickly and I could feel my calves burning up. I did have about ten minutes to spare before the actual run started but that wasn’t enough for my calves to properly settle.

I started off quite well but, on reflection, far too fast. It’s always difficult at parkrun not to be swept along with everyone else. The fear is that I would immediately get spat out the back of the pack so I always find that I try to keep pace for as long as I can – and that’s a recipe for disaster because I know I’ll never keep up.

But, today, for some reason I lost touch very, very quickly. My legs initially felt good but barely a couple of minutes in I seemed to lose all power in them so I knew I was in trouble.

I tried to keep going as much as I could but I was fighting a losing battle so, spotting a couple of ladies about a minute behind me, I decided that as long as I could keep them there then it should give me the motivation to keep pushing on.

I really struggled around the 3-4km mark. I had nothing left, totally devoid of all energy. However, moving into the final kilometre I began to get some strength back, started to dig in and actually recorded my second fastest km split of the run.

That’s a positive sign. I’m hoping it shows that it just took my legs about 20-30 minutes to settle in given my inactivity since Monday night.

I know I always struggle on my first run after a good few days off. I hope that means it’s out of my system now and tomorrow’s 10k will show a marked improvement.

Relive my run


Monday night is club night. I wasn’t there last week, and I won’t be there next week, so I wanted to make sure I got the most out of it tonight.

I ended up with the 30s, although this was more by accident than design. I wasn’t really paying attention as the different groups were leaving and by the time I realised what was happening I was left with the last ten or so in the room.

No big deal. I was always going to do five miles tonight regardless, so I just made up the different after the club run.

As it turned out the 30s route was a bit challenging in places with a few short, sharp inclines to test the legs – and I’m happy to report they came through with flying colours. The fluid issues didn’t really affect me tonight, maybe a little towards the end but that was all.

After the club session had finished (approx. 4km) I ran an elongated route home to bring me up to my desired five miles, mostly downhill but that’s unavoidable seeing as I live ‘downhill’ from the town centre!

It wasn’t a terribly fast run throughout but it served a purpose, and that’s all I could really ask for.

In other news, my next race, which I just entered today, is the Storming The Castle 10k in Carrickfergus on Sunday.

It’ll be the first of four consecutive Sunday’s I could be racing, culminating in the Belfast Half Marathon on September 17th, so hopefully it’ll keep me mentally focused. I just need to alter my schedule slightly to fit in my longer runs in midweek because the weekends will be taken up earning some more bling!

Relive my run