Winter? I’ve been expecting you!

Well all in all it’s been a temperate year in 2014 in the Manchester part of the world. Whilst we got our share of flooding at the turn of the year and August was the annual washout that we have come to expect, it’s not really been that bad.

Even running at the end of November, shorts were still de rigueur, although a t-shirt was more appropriate than just the running top I have been known to sneak out in.

I think with the arrival of December, mother nature has remembered that it’s supposed to be less nice now and has responded accordingly. Frost on the ground in the morning and sleet and hail being blown around along with the rain. Heck, I’ve even had the heating on a little bit, which for those people who know me well, will claim is akin to getting blood out of a stone. Personally I don’t see the issue in putting a jumper on, but apparently that’s not the way we’re supposed to do things……

Perhaps this is why I’m able to take part in the Stockport 10 – a 10 mile road race in early December. Frequently with poor weather one might consider it ‘character-building’. Yesterday’s icy downpour on the awaiting start-line was true in tradition ensuring everyone started off soaking and cold. Unusually, I’d forgotten to leave my specs in the car – I obviously require them to drive, but can see more than well enough to get around a race – which meant despite having visual aids, I couldn’t see a darned thing for the first couple of miles due to a lack of windscreen wipers on said aids. Which resulted in discovering big puddles the ‘wet way’ and I suspect the trainers are still drying out!

Anyway, after the downpour the weather cleared completely and eventually so did my ‘windscreen’ making progress somewhat less hazardous. Whilst much of the course is on tarmac roads there are sections where it wasn’t deemed necessary and the terrain makes some international mountain ranges look flat. Stockport Potholes are some of the finest examples of ‘risk of disappearance or damage’ in the western world and could possibly be marketed as a tourist attraction. If uneven surfaces are your thing.

The course itself is deemed ‘challenging’ – less to do with the potholes and more that there are a couple of hills in it. To be fair, if you’ve run in North Wales at any time since the last Ice Age, you wouldn’t be particularly over-awed by Stockport’s hills but they do cause a significant number of runners to get to the end of the race uttering tales of woe about New Zealand Road (which, contrary to local belief doesn’t take you anywhere near to New Zealand).

Last year I got around the course comfortably but felt that I’d perhaps taken things a little too cautiously in the early stages. This year I’d say I got my strategy as near to perfection as I could, with me having enough ooompf to get around but with my body saying bad things to me as I pushed along the track to the finishing gantry. Which, I’m pleased to say, didn’t blow away this year.

The goodie bag wasn’t as left-field as it has been traditionally, although in these times of tight purse-strings it’s totally reasonable that things aren’t too frivolous. The meal worm returned to the bag after an absence last year (you should be able to see it in the image at the top) and the hi-vis tech t-shirt was worth the entry fee alone.

So a PB at the course of 1h11m38s which was pleasing. It made me realise that going forward I probably need to start looking at training more rigorously as that was the best I could do with the fitness I have. And at that distance I’d love to go sub-70………

Photo ordered. And Mark would have been impressed. There are not many pictures of me wearing glasses, predominantly because I hate them, but he always liked how I looked in them. So I’m sure if it were possible, he would be smiling at it’s existence. I’ll post it once I have it.

*** seamless edit to get photo in after the original posting ***

Stockport 10 - 8 miles in

Stockport 10 – 8 miles in

*** you didn’t notice. No really you didn’t ***

So that’s all of the races for 2014 done now (I’ve had a look but none of the other things I can find really appeal). And on the whole I can take a lot of positives from 2014 (admittedly one HUGE negative being the sciatica). So it’ll be a short rest over Christmas before I start working on getting myself up to speed for 2015 🙂

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