Folksworth 15 - 22 January 2017
With London 3 months away I wanted to find a race to help me build strength and to test taking gels earlier than usual. The Folksworth 15 fitted the bill perfectly; it’s a two lap course with 3 big hills on each lap. Just south of Peterborough the race has a great reputation, put on by Yaxley Runners. It has a very similar feel to the excellent Leighton 10 and having done it I highly recommend it!
I managed to get a lift with Gary Blaber from MKAC and we arrived around an hour before the start; it was freezing! We were able to pick up numbers without any trouble and headed out on a warm up, after about 15 minutes I was still nowhere near warm! Did we really want to race in vest and shorts? We decided to go for it and jogged to the start that was just under a mile away. It was a great sight; clear blue skies and hundreds of runners all together in the countryside ready to go. For the majority of us this was just a strength builder and not really a race, people seemed a lot more relaxed than if this had been a half marathon.
At the start it was good to meet up with a ‘parkrun friend’ David Hudson who’s been dominating local Half Marathons and have a chat with him and a couple of other lads. Aaron Scott (2.19 @ London last year) was there, which put any thoughts of a possible win out of my head. The plan was to go out around 2.30 marathon pace (5.44ish) and finish with gas left in the tank; I also wanted to take on two gels to see what effect they would have taken earlier on in a race. We set off bang on 11am and Aaron Scott had pretty much disappeared before we got to the first mile! I was in a group of 4 (including my mate David) and we were happily chatting, the first mile passed by in 5.25; too fast! I thought about holding back, but didn’t want to lose the help of running in a group so I stayed, the first hill came in the 3rd mile with a steady rise of about 30m, this early into the run, it didn’t feel hard; the only difficulty was the frosty road surface made grip difficult.
At the top of the hill we suddenly dropped down very steeply flying down to a sharp left hand turn. After about a KM we started another long gradual hill which saw a rise of about 40m, the group of 4 had already dropped to 2. At the top of the hill we were greeted with a magical site of a countryside winter wonderland with visibility for miles around. It stayed flat for a while with a long downhill stretch (the 6th mile was 5.12); here I took on my first gel as we began to climb for the 3rd time, by the top I’d finished the gel, but David (in 2nd) had gained about 10m on me and I was never able to catch up with him; he hadn’t read the script of it being an easyish run!
I definitely slowed a bit in the 2nd half, but was able to keep running consistently (my slowest mile was 6.00 on the last hill) and successfully took a 2nd gel at 11 miles. My legs felt strong, but my eyesight (which was a problem at Abingdon) again caused me problems. I wore sunglasses because it was so bright, but by the end my eyes were stinging, I could still feel the issue hours later. I wonder if it is something to do with sweat and mist being caught between the lenses and my eyes? Does anyone happen to know more on the subject?I finished 3rd in 1.23 (5.35 avg) and crossed the half marathon in 1.13 feeling good. There was a great T-Shirt at the end and lots of very friendly volunteers, huge thanks to everyone at Yaxley Runners and the people of Folksworth for putting on such a great event; I even won a delightful set of 4 wine glasses.
I just wanted to add a word about David Hudson who came 2nd (in a superb 1.21). He lives in Aylesbury and chances are you’ve seen him at the parkrun. He only started running in his mid 30s in 2014 and completed the Ayesbury parkrun in almost 22 minutes. He’s gradually built up his fitness and within a year had broken 20 minutes. He’s now regularly running 80+ mile weeks and has a parkrun PB of sub 16.30. I think he’s built for distance though and will surely run a great marathon soon. He has a half PB 72 (he also won the Bedford Half at the end of last year, ahead of my clubmate Rob Elmore) and now he’s run a 1.21 15 miler! He just shows that hard work and dedication really works, keep it up mate. His support crew at Folksworth were also really great, they cheered him loudly on both laps, but gave me just as much encouragement even though I had never met them before; what a great bunch!
May 17 update - David went on to have a superb marathon debut of 2.32 to come 5th at the Brighton Marathon. He ignored my advice and ended up running a big positive split (he went through halfway in 1.12) on a very hot day, but 2.32 is still fantastic. He followed it up with a much more consistent 2.35 at London. I'm delighted to say he's been selected as a V35 athlete to run for England at the Chester Marathon later in 2017. There is much more to come from him, I look forward to following his journey.