Running can be a solitary sport, and I’ve certainly found myself pounding out the miles on wet and windy Sunday mornings with just the “pleasure” of my own company for what seems like hours on end. Thankfully, it can also be a team sport, and for me there is no better team than the one I am proud to be a part of – Trentham Running Club. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a brilliant run and smashed a PB, or a dreadful run where you just want to bury your head in the sand, the team spirit and support you get from club mates is second to none – and that goes for both the ladies and the gents!
Saturday was one of those days where team spirits were on a high as the Trentham ladies team had their best ever placing in the national 6 stage road relays at Sutton Park. The team has been going from strength to strength recently, with numerous individual and team wins in cross country and on the roads, and dare I say even on the track, but a top 10 finish in the English National 6 Stage Relays was something that we had never really considered.
Having travelled down to Birmingham together, the nerves were kicking in by the time we arrived, but it was great having team coach and manager Richard there who gave us all loads of encouragement. He also had the belief that we could finish in the top 10, and not wanting to let him down, the team ran brilliantly to actually finish 8th – yes 8th!!! – which is absolutely fantastic when you think that a couple of years ago nobody outside of Stoke-on-Trent had probably heard of Trentham Running Club.
From my own point of view, a 3 mile fast run was pretty tough. I was on the anchor leg and the rest of team had done a brilliant job at keeping us in touch with the leading teams in the top 10, so the pressure was on to keep the position. Thankfully I managed to gain a place and was relieved that although my time was slow compared to previous years, I didn’t let the team down.
Trentham Ladies 6 Stage Relay Team
Still buzzing from such a fantastic result, I felt the urge to spend more time with local running chums on Sunday morning, this time at the Newcastle 7. In all fairness, I didn’t really want a race, especially with the London Marathon next weekend, but having looked at the entries, I figured that I could run a steady “race” and possibly come away with a veteran prize.
I’d got a 12 mile run scheduled in so ran over to Newcastle prior to racing to make sure I did the miles. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and it was great to see so many green vests from Trentham, including Sharleen and Mandy who had also done the relays the day before.
The Newcastle 7 is a lovely little race – quite low key, very friendly and very well organised. The course is quite tough at the start, with a 2 mile hill that just seems to go on and on and on. I had no intentions of working too hard up the hill and was averaging about 7.20 pace, but once you hit the top, it’s pretty much all downhill with a flat couple of miles to the finish.
The legs actually felt far better than they had at the relays and I felt pretty strong considering, but over the last couple of miles, the faster pace did knock the stuffing out of me and the old legs started to tighten towards the end. The good news is that I finished in just over 47 minutes – certainly not a PB but not a bad run at all, and for once I’d stuck to the plan of running steady, finishing in 4th place and winning the 1st L35 prize. Yet again, Trentham ladies dominated, with Sharleen and Mandy finishing 1st and 2nd respectively, and with me in 4th, the team prize was pretty much guaranteed.
All in all, a great weekend of running once again, made all the better by some glorious sunny if somewhat warm weather, and exceptional company!
So now, with just a week to go until the London Marathon, I need to decide how to tackle things next weekend. The legs seem to have recovered from my adventures in Perth a couple of weeks ago, and with some good decent kip, I’m pretty sure that I will be ok. This is about the 10th London Marathon that I’ve done, and it’s weird heading down there without really having a goal in mind. In the past, I’ve been chasing a time but this year I have a feeling that I’m just going to take it steady and enjoy the occasion.
Good luck to everybody else doing the marathon on Sunday – I hope that you all achieve your goals and that all the hard work pays off. Oh, and whilst I’m not a football fan in any way, shape or form, good luck to Stoke City in the FA Cup Semi Finals at Wembley – for you avid fans out there, I hope that Stoke get the goals they want too!