Event #3 – North Tyneside 10k

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6.3 Miles, 1 Hour, 6 Minutes, 46 Seconds

I know I was reasonably positive after my last event, the Cragside 10k, but over the last couple of weeks, I’ve not really been looking at it particularly fondly. It felt like a little bit of a failure how much I struggled with the hilly terrain, and although I’m glad I did it, it’s not one I’m in a rush to revisit.

The North Tyneside 10k is something I’ve been viewing differently in the run-up, though. As a Wallsend boy, it’s a part of the world I’m extremely familiar with, and not only that, it’s a setting I absolutely adore – perhaps one of my favourite stretches of scenery anywhere that I’ve ever been actually.

Course-wise, I knew it wasn’t going to be as challenging (okay, horrible) as Cragside, because it’s relatively flat so I was just looking forward to being able to toddle along the sea front enjoying the scenery.

Oh man, it was fun. I genuinely can’t remember having enjoyed a run that much in a long time. I’ve banged on before about how much I love being by the water, so the fact that all bar about half a mile was along the quay/sea front means that clearly this is a course pretty much tailor-made for me.

The conditions were excellent too – not too cold, and not too much of a wind on the sea front, so I was able to just trot through the run at a bit of a cruise. I probably had three or four walking breaks, but I don’t think any of them exceeded two minutes, and the rest of the time I was just on auto-pilot.

I took over four minutes off my Cragside time, and actually I think if I’d pushed myself even more I could probably have done it a bit quicker. The course was a bit congested at times, which didn’t help, mind. It’s a bit surprising that North Tyneside Council don’t close more stretches of road along the coast for a little while during the run (or maybe they do and I was just too slow to benefit from it!).

That’s not such a major issue for a not-that-serious runner like me, though, and the occasional bout of congestion was more than counteracted by the friendliness of the atmosphere on the course. I found the number of supporters out on the route quite surprising and it draws obvious parallels between this event and the closing stages of the Great North Run, with the coastal home straight lined by people cheering and clapping. I think that triggered memories which helped me keep my walking breaks down to a minimum in the latter stages.

All in all, a massively positive experience, and one I’m keen to repeat next year.

Don’t forget, there’s a very good reason I’m doing this stuff, so any sponsorship is hugely appreciated.

Music: Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out & One Beat

 

3 Miles, 29.48 Minutes

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A busy week has meant that tonight was always likely to be pretty much my only opportunity to get a run in before Event #3, The North Tyneside 10k on Sunday.

Given the general flimsiness of my legs these days, I deliberately didn’t exceed three miles so as not to mess myself up for the weekend, but I kinda accidentally ran a really fast pace (for me). 3 miles in under half an hour is pretty good going by my standards, so I was pleasantly surprised.

I initially only started fast simply because I had to leg it when crossing the road outside work at the beginning to avoid getting mowed down, but I guess I inadvertently kept that going for the duration of my trek up Scotswood Road. (A route chosen partly to get some hills in my legs before Sunday, and partly as a bit of early prep for the Blaydon Race in June which will be Event #4).

Sunday is one I’m particularly looking forward to. North Tyneside is my neck of the woods, so it’s not a trip into the unknown like Cragside was. I’ve hinted at it before, but as the son of a Shipyard worker, I love being by the sea or riverside, so this should be a pretty memorable one.

I guess if I wanna do a decent time, I just need to try and get myself nearly run over just as we’re setting off…

Music: Wild Flag – Wild Flag

4.87 Miles, 55.16 Minutes

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Having really bigged up the benefits of running with a group a couple of weeks back, it’s perhaps inevitable that my next ‘Clammy Club’ session would be more of a struggle.

For whatever reason, my legs didn’t really fancy it tonight. Maybe I’m not fully recovered from Cragside on Saturday, maybe the excessive amounts of beer and takeaway I’ve allowed myself since then have taken their toll, but tonight wasn’t my night.

It’s no biggie though. I’ve learned that I’ll have off nights, but the important thing is to just keep pushing myself. It’s tempting to get back out there at the weekend, but knowing my legs (and particularly my knees), I’d probably benefit from waiting ’til I’ve recovered a bit more.

Ideally I’d like to do two more runs before my next event, which is the North Tyneside 10k on Easter Sunday. That’s one I’m looking forward to a lot, because that’s my neck of the woods, and who isn’t fond of the seaside?

Event #2 – Cragside 10k

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6.36 Miles, 1 Hour, 11 Minutes

The biggest challenge of my year (so far) is in the bag, and as I write this the morning after, my legs and indeed the rest of my body are reminding me just how tough it was.

As far as 10k runs go, Cragside is considered one of the more beautiful, but also one of the hardest going on account of the uphill portions. It truly is a spectacular setting – An amazing country house set back from a picturesque lake and within gorgeous wooded grounds. A small part of the reason I’m doing these runs is to enjoy some of these places on our doorstep, and I’m glad to have now experienced this place in addition to the equally wonderful Gibside in February.

I’d read up on the course beforehand, and I knew pretty much what to expect. It’s a deceptively easy-going first 3 or 4 k downhill but in my mind I had this foreboding of when the climbing would start. When it did, I coped ok at first – I powered through for a bit, but it quickly became clear that I was going to have to intersperse short slow runs with a number of walking breaks. I just tried to keep the walks as brisk as possible.

It really did feel like the uphill parts were never going to stop – I’ve already buried the memory a little bit, but I think it was just before the 8k mark where it levelled out a little and the course switched to downhill for the home stretch. I made a point of finishing as strongly as possible, and as it happens, my last mile was the quickest of the whole run, so I’m pleased about that.

Given the walking portions involved, I was expecting the worst when it came to timings, but it wasn’t actually that bad for where I’m at now. I averaged 11.10 mins per mile, which is about 30-40 seconds slower than I’d like, but I’m happy enough with that given how my knees have been and how challenging the course was.

Next event is the North Tyneside 10k on April 16th – I’m really looking forward to that one.

If you fancy adding your name to those who have already been very generous in my quest to raise money for Bloodwise this year, the relevant link is here.

Music: Manic Street Preachers – National Treasures