I’ve got the bug & it’s a positive one

I’m back.

What? Wait? You never left. True.

I’ve been quiet. The last month has sucked. Not from a brand perspective, I’ve been fortunate to be sent some brand spanking new kit that I think many of you will be excited to read, see and learn about. When I say the last month has sucked, I mean for me running.

I’ve been on the sideline.

I know when things changed. 28th March, my birthday of all days. I turned 29 at the London Bike Show, prepping a stand with colleagues and it was the start of the 3 most intense days at a consumer show I’ve ever been part of. I don’t say this lightly, as I’ve almost 8 years of working such events in the cycle industry and the first 15 months were spent at an event almost every week.

The pace was manic and it left me exhausted for 10 days. I slept 10 hours a day (I’m normally 5-6), my motivation disappeared, I sat yawning through days of work and weekends. Unknown to me, I would then have to take a day off work with a headache which lasted 18 hours, drained me to the point I needed help to stand up after sitting on a sofa, taking 4 days to regain the strength in my body. I was eating double meals for those 4 days. Ah, the end is insight. A final right hand to my plans of athletic redemption was thrown, toothache, the first I’ve had since being a child. The long and short, 1/4 of a tooth fell out last Friday. Oh and I pulled out of Ultra Trail Snowdonia, my one aim and goal for the year.

What a month…..

Yet. I said I had the bug back and I do. I took some of this down time to ride my bike more. I love mtb and at times, running and weather gets in the way. I’m no fair weather rider, but being local to the trails, I have the option of holding off a day or two, allowing them to dry out or at the least, loose their greasy layer, which turns every root into a pinball machine with no warning.

I attended the Trash Free Trails Spring Trail Clean Tour and had a great two days with Dom, Ben and Ellie at two trail centres, riding, picking up trash and meeting loads of great people.

I imagine at this point, after a picture of me running as the featured image you’re thinking ‘get to the point.’

Ok, I will.

Monday 29th May. I started running again. An easy week from Pyllon to ease my body back in. Not a lot of running, some riding too. I had a good week. The runs went well, I can see the coming weeks are about patience, allowing time for my body to adapt once more to the stress I’m about to put it under.

On Saturday I rode the trails at Cannock Chase and had the best ride I’ve ever had there, enjoying the descents more than ever before and riding faster. It was like riding through a swimming pool, soaking my legs and feet in the process, but I loved it.

Sunday, my first long run in a month. 9 miles, easy pace, no stress, no drama. It’s good to know your body it working.

Monday. Race.

Sorry, race?!

Yes. Milton Keynes was hosting its annual MK Marathon and one of the race options is a marathon relay, which my girlfriend and some ladies from the surrounding villages had signed up for. Unfortunately the team leader was injured two weeks before race day and I was asked in the week if I’d take her place, which I did.

Starting to see where the bug has come back from?

The ladies had trained hard and 10km each (roughly) was the end goal. My section was the second split, some 7.2 miles in duration. I must say, for anyone thinking of doing a relay, if only have one car, it keeps you on your toes, as you drive to each handover location, fighting for a parking spot and trying to make sure you don’t miss your runner. After watching the First Lady Jo start the race, as drove to the second point, where I warmed up a bit (a couple of short jogs – Pyllon would be proud), having necked a Mountain Fuel cola Jelly 30 minutes before waiting nervously in a crowd, dominated by other team members and not the relay runners. Each time a Marshall would yell our ‘relay runner,’ a minute adrenaline hit would surge around the body in anticipation of starting.

Jo came into sight, I started my watch when she was 10 meters away, took the baton. Bang. I was gone.

We were 101/128 teams, mixed in with half and full marathon runners at this point. As you can imagine, the road ahead was congested. Much like when I start a race too far back in the pen and run the first mile or so on verges or off course, I did the same. However, this time it was for the entire duration of my race. I started to fast, saw projected pacing in the 5.45-5.50min/mile pace and told myself ‘too fast, slow down,’ repeatedly in my head. I knew I couldn’t sustain it, though with the adrenaline dump and nerves now gone, it felt achievable.

My focus was on those ahead, picking a line that would cause the least disruption in the race and allow others to enjoy their own experiences. I heard some grumble behind me, as passed them at speed. Verges were my race track, as I moved from left to right, spending more time on the grass verges surrounding the paths and redways (Milton Keynes network of walking/cycle paths) then on the concrete itself.

3 miles in, pretty sure I’ve never ran that fast for a 5km. Crack on. ‘keep going, 3 miles left, you can hold this’ words assessing the situation, my performance, my body continued to project in my mind.

2 miles, 1 miles, 0.7, 0.5, you can PB. I could see a PB on the horizon just as the paths began to narrow and overtaking would become a greater challenge. ‘Passing right’ I shouted out for the first time running ever. Runners ahead apologised and moved out the way, I turn I shouted back ‘thank you, please don’t be sorry.’

10km PB in the bag, epic, now where is this handover point….. I’d been told 10km/6.21 Miles was the distance and that wasn’t the case. For the next mile, every corner I would assume I’d see a crowd and handover point. Nothing. It turned out I had another mile to run, but, I held back to be able to do what was required and made the distance. Handing the baton over to Lisa, finally stopping lead to a lot of dry coughing and relief.

What just happened shouldn’t have happened. 5 and 10km PBs on the first week back in training, the day after a long run…?!

It wasn’t till we all met up later after we had finished the event, the stats showed what had happened.

4th fastest 2nd leg of the day

101st to 5th position

39:36 10km PB

19:38 5km PB

Overall position at the end – 49th/128

When I took the baton we were 101st, when I passed it on, 5th. I’d run the 4th fastest second leg of the marathon relay. And now for the least humble thing I think I can possibly say, I passed everyone I saw on course (now, for perspective, this is due to being near the back of the race, so rightly, these were slower runners).

I’ve got the racing bug back and I have those 4 ladies, Hazel, Lisa, Trina and Jo to thank. I shouldn’t have been racing, I shouldn’t have been running fast, but they gave me an opportunity to run without any goals or pressure, to do what I want and in the process, got my running bug and mojo back. It hadn’t gone from a simple pleasure it provides, but from performance. I was lost in what to do next, what I would do this year and how to motivate myself to push myself. I am happy to say a last minute substitution gave me what I needed.

Now to see what’s in store for the rest of the year…..